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The pendulum has been swinging rapidly during the past two years with respect to understanding buyer behavior and interactions in the social age. What we know for sure is that the dynamics and interactions between businesses and buyers are undergoing their most significant transformation in many years and decades. How groups of buyers as well as individual buyers are interacting with each other and with sellers continue to metamorphosis anew monthly redefining our knowledge of how buyers make decisions today.
We are also witnessing the phenomenon of buyers in B2B marketplaces becoming more social in their interactions. This phenomenon is fueled by the advent of social networking technologies that enable buyers to interact with selling businesses and peer buyers. The degree of interactions amongst buyers, both at a group and individual level, is most likely at the highest levels in the history of B2B selling and buying. This phenomenon is causing turmoil in the rank and file infrastructure of B2B Marketing and B2B Sales. We are seeing the births of new technologies and processes, such as content marketing, inbound marketing, marketing automation, and social media technologies attempting to address the voids created as B2B businesses shift their own buying processes and cycles. The results of these new approaches and technologies are mixed as best to date. Why do some work and others do not remain a puzzle.
Reflecting on the significant changes still evolving has led me to a belief that a new discipline is warranted in the B2B business world. This discipline is called Social Buyerology which is centered on understanding buyers in the social age. It seeks to understand the social influences on buyers as well as understand social networking relationships between individual buyers, social buyer groups, and sellers. B2B buyers today are becoming more social and not just in technology usage but in terms of what the influence of the technology has done to make buyers behave more socially. As if there were a social reservoir that has been untapped for many decades and social technology serving as the key to open the locks of the reservoir.
There are seven social factors embedded in Social Buyerology that lead to an understanding of buyer behaviors and interactions in the social age:
Social Mental Models: this represents the collective insight into attitudes, beliefs, perceptions, ideas, and emotive thoughts that are learned, experienced, and acquired in a social and business context.
Social Goals: buyer behavior, as well as the foundational principle behind buyer persona development, is goal oriented. In the social age, we are beginning to see the rise of social goals related to interacting and networking. Drastically affecting how organizational as well as personal goals are established and fulfilled.
Social Persuasion: proactive approaches are cropping up everywhere in terms of messaging designed to persuade specific buyer groups. Creating an imperative to understand new communication mediums and approaches to have buyers not only engage but adopt certain viewpoints. Obviously, content marketing comes to mind here. Which may go through several iterations as a practice and concept or something new may arise altogether as buyers continue to evolve socially.
Social Experience: this represents understanding the collective experiences a buyer and/or group of buyers has both in the social networking world as well as in the offline world.
Social Influence: this is looking at how new social networking and social group dynamics affect as well as influence individual and collective social buyers. We are just beginning to understand social influence on a generational level and by certain professions.
Social Interaction: how groups of sellers, buyers, stakeholders, and multiple departmental affiliations interact socially as well as through new social technology mediums have direct correlations to decision-making. New decision-making and buying cycle processes are now being based to a high degree on social interactions between multiple parties.
Social Networking: the advent of the social age is affecting and changing how buyers relate to colleagues and peers not only within but outside of their organizations. The spheres of networking has exploded and connections are made daily through channels such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. We are still on top of an enormous current that is flowing rapidly in terms of understanding how this has changed buyer behavior and interactions.
Buyer behavior today with respect to decision-making is being directly affected by the continuing evolution of the social age. B2B buyers are more social than ever which behooves B2B organizations to understand this impact as well as to adapt their business operations to the new social buyer. While traditional influences remain strong, overtime and as younger generations grow into leadership, social constructs and social models of behavior will become more prevalent. Social Buyerology can be a discipline devoted to understanding the new social buyers for organizations and allow for collaboration with academia.