Influencer50’s Global B2B Influencer Survey, 2013

Influencer50, Influencer Marketing, Nick Hayes, The Buyer-side Journey

Our company Influencer50 has just issued its latest Global B2B Influencer Survey 2013 – showing the real importance of offline to online to social influencers in B2B buying decisions. What it shows is that somewhat over 50% of B2B influence on real buyers is being conducted offline, a little over a third primarily online (i.e through Google-type searches) and 5-10% primarily through social channels. There are small differences in these numbers from continent to continent but the narrative is the same.

What’s particularly interesting is that even amongst the ‘social influencer’ channel – this influence is through LinkedIn and interest-specific communities way more than Twitter.

And the third take-away – approx. 60% of top influencers have a Twitter account, yet only one-third of those have posted to it in the past two months. So hard to call them exactly active tweeters.

Here’s the released Survey’s details:

Global B2B Influencer Survey shows Social Media, despite the hype, is still NOT a major primary influencer for B2B purchases

Offline and Online influencers are the clear two most significant channels for influence, with ‘social influencers’ a very distant third.

For B2B products & services costing >$1000 – average 68% of key influencers are primarily offline, 26% online, 5% social

For B2B products & services costing >$100 but less than $1000 – average 48% of key influencers primarily offline, 40% online, 12% social

Influencer50, the award-winning Influencer Identification, Engagement & Measurement firm announces the results of its Global B2B Influencer Survey 2013, conducted over one year across four continents. Over 36,000 B2B-oriented individuals were evaluated – the company’s largest aggregated survey to date. The survey seeks to identify the relative importance of offline, online and so-called ‘social influencers’ in B2B purchasing and adoption decisions.

Influencer50 amalgamated the results of 58 B2B research projects from Oct’12-Sept’13, across forty-one countries. Small but significant differences were found in the make-up of those top influencers from one continent to another.

This table shows through which channel the top B2B influencers (for all values of product & services) primarily influence (they can obviously influence across more than one channel, but only one channel was considered primary).

B2B sector Offline Online Social
US (aggregate) 60.7 31.3 7.7
US products & services >$1000 68 26 5
US products & services >$100 <$1000 48 40 12
Europe 62.9 29.8 7.3
AsiaPacific 56.8 33.7 9.5
Average 60.8% 31.2% 7.9%

(The Average totals in the table are weighted to take into account the scale of data from each region).
Offline Influence is defined as influence conducted through in-person meetings or conversations, either face-to-face or to a group, phone conversations, etc.
Online Influence is defined as influence conducted through online search results and/or browsing.
Social Influence is defined as influence conducted through, but not limited to, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc.

The survey results show that while influence conducted primarily through social media channels is significant, averaging almost 8% of the influence on B2B purchasers, it takes only a very distant third place to online and offline channels. And the numbers are not trending dramatically towards social media. Yet there remains overwhelmingly more industry ‘buzz’ about social channel influence than about offline influence.

“We just don’t understand why so much noise is being created by those talking about ‘social influence’ when it’s clear that B2B buyers aren’t actually listening. Just look at who’s contributing to those conversations – it’s all marketing agencies and contractors. All the sellers are on Twitter but that’s not where the B2B buyers are. Everyone seems to be conveniently ignoring that. The real influencers are much harder to find than simply trawling Twitter for who tweets most often. It’s apparently too much trouble for most people to track down the real influencers.” – Nick Hayes, Principal of Influencer50 Inc.

Influencer50, Influencer Marketing, Nick Hayes

As part of its research, Influencer50 also analysed the use of Twitter amongst its identified top influencers. While the majority of top influencers across each region did have their own Twitter account, less than one-half had posted any updates in the past two months, so making their account effectively inactive.

Percentage of top B2B influencers active on Twitter:

Own a Twitter account Posted in past two months
US 68% 36%
Europe 61% 29%
AsiaPacific 66% 27%

“There’s been so much talk over the past eighteen months about so-called ‘social influencers’. All these digital agencies have hijacked the term influencer marketing to relate to those on social platforms – mainly Twitter. That’s never jibed with our own experience of B2B purchase decision-making so we spent a year collating data on the subject.

“Social media may be having a very different effect in consumer sectors than it is in B2B. And it’s certainly reshaping our personal culture. But in the commercial sector the agenda for influencer marketing is being pushed by people with a vested interest – largely by digital marketing agencies who want to sell their clients on various social listening programs.”

“What’s also interesting is that it’s through LinkedIn, rather than Twitter, where most of that social media influence is conducted. That’s a story that often gets lost when agencies discuss social influence – because LinkedIn is much more difficult for them to trawl than Twitter.”

“The wider picture is that it’s part of this generational shift towards marketing automation. There’s a drive towards ensuring everything can be measured and scaled. These social influence platforms tick both those boxes. No-one seems to care that what they’re measuring might effectively be junk in terms of increasing a company’s sales. It’s a race based around ‘the emperor’s new clothes’. The industry needs to get back to addressing real-world buyer behavior – and many of the ‘influence marketing’ providers seem to be ignoring that.”

Influencer50’s clients include Microsoft, IBM, Wal-Mart and Michelin amongst many others.

This research comprised research across four continents and forty-one countries analyzing a combined 36,218 B2B-oriented individuals. The continents were North America, Europe, Asia and, to a lesser extent, Africa.

– ends

Ty Holden
Influencer50 Inc.

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