Each year Demand Gen Report’s Content Preferences Study has at least one statistic that makes me say, “Huh.”
This year, it was this one: 36% of surveyed B2B buyers share vendor content with peers on Slack or Teams.
If these “social business” apps weren’t already ubiquitous before the pandemic, they are now. Part project-management tool and part digital water cooler, Slack and Teams often are the first apps opened at the start of the day and the last closed at the end.
I’ve been sharing third-party content on them for years, but I never actually thought about them as part of a B2B buyer’s journey. Yet it makes perfect sense that they are, and we as content planners and creators should be paying more attention to them.
A March report in The Verge says Slack has about 12.5 million daily users, while Teams has about 44 million. Applying the 36% finding just for rough scale determines that potentially 4.5 million Slack users and 15.8 million Teams users are using those apps to share B2B marketing content with peers.
We marketers usually emphasize external shares via LinkedIn or Facebook for content amplification, but it’s hard to deny with those numbers that Slack and Teams are becoming big, important channels for B2B marketing and sales.
Three Trends Behind the Change
One of the shifts opening this new channel is demographics. All the predictions about millennials changing business communication forever are coming true as the first generation to grow up with social media enters their 40s and starts influencing more B2B purchases.
Social networks are an intuitive part of communication and problem-solving for millennials, and that includes conducting research for B2B purchases. And now that millennials have ushered in this new channel, it’s here to stay.
Another contributing trend is reliance on peers for information and validation during the purchase journey. The 2020 Content Preferences Survey validates this escalating trend: 39% of the B2B buyers said they are getting more content through social networks and peer recommendations than they did in the prior year. And while influencer marketing has been a good response to this trend, the Demand Gen Report research indicates buyers are looking to co-workers for guidance as well.
A third force is the expansion of team buying. Modern buying committees have six to eight different roles by many estimates, and the trend is toward expansion. It makes sense that as the average size of buying committees increases, so does the amount of internal discussion and content sharing about buying research and decisions.
Tips for Upping Internal Shares
If you’d like to experiment with gaining more shares from Slack and Teams, consider these tips.
Add helpful team-focused content to programs and campaigns.
When planning content, continue to use personas but add a “team” element to the mix. Include at least one piece of content that helps the buying team accomplish something and move forward, such as coming to an agreement on must-have elements for a user interface. Buyers want content that is helpful, and they are more likely to share it with peers when it is.
Optimize ABM insights and programs.
It’s a great time to learn about ABM or extend the value of an existing program in light of this new buyer behavior. First, if you’re a company with rich insights on target accounts, use these insights to identify strategic and cultural themes that will resonate in peer-to-peer discussions within that account and aim to provide one or two pieces of content designed for internal sharing.
This is where personalization rises to the account level. What’s on the minds of the roles within that account about their business lives, and what kind of content are they most likely to share with coworkers or team members?
Be purposefully transparent.
Often what buying committees need most is for someone to connect the dots for them on how different solutions fit into the larger context of their needs and constraints: budget limits, resistance to change, time pressures. This is where content is frequently lacking, because messaging is more skewed toward features than pain points.
Addressing these challenges (which are often common and discoverable) directly with valid, transparent language and examples is what many buying committees need most in the later stages of their work together.
Look at the Inward Opportunities
I could see this trend spurring a lot of really creative ideas, such as offering Teams- and Slack-friendly GIFs that people could use to share a vendor’s web-based tools or timely blogs.
A shift is definitely under way, and it’s stretching our ideas of what B2B content is and can do. It will be fun to find the best ways to help buyers in these new channels.
For more tips on incorporating key trends in your B2B marketing, be sure to check out “10 Ways to Make 2020 Your Best Marketing Year Yet.”
As Vice President of Content Strategy & Services for Content4Demand, Tonya Vinas oversees the agency’s team of content strategists and works across content-creation and delivery functions to ensure on-point, quality content services. She has more than 20 years of experience in B2B content development and formerly worked as a business and news journalist. When she’s not driving marketers to push the content limits, she’s cooking, reading about global trends and the economy or taking a leisurely walk in the valley parks along Lake Erie.