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If your company sells a high-priced product or service, it can’t afford to stand on the sidelines when it comes to social media. After all, Sirius Decisions and others have found that empowered B2B buyers are moving through as much as 70% of the sales funnel before connecting with sales.

The companies not answering the call are missing out on tremendous opportunities to engage with prospective customers, shape the online conversation, and influence purchases. Need proof? Consider this:

1) TechTarget has found that more than 93% of IT buyers visit social communities and more than half contribute content.

2) DemandGen Report’s second annual research study, Inside The Mind of the BtoB Buyer found that, in the early stages of the buying process, 78% of respondents said they start by gathering information around a business problem. And it turns out that they’re increasingly doing so via social channels. 59% of respondents indicate that they engaged with peers who had addressed the challenge, and another 48% followed industry conversations/coverage of their topics on blogs and social media. And get this – more than 20% connected directly with potential solution vendors via social networking channels.

3) According to Forrester, “80% of business technology buyers engage in some form of social activity for work purposes.”

4) In its research titled “When to Socialize Online with B2B Buyers,” Forrester also found that forums and discussion groups ranked highest for the information sources B2B buyers said they would use to inform and validate their purchase decisions.

5) More than half (57%) of B2B companies have acquired a customer through their company blog, according to recent research. (Source: Demand Creation Specialists email)

6) The 2011 Arketi Web Watch Survey: Inside BtoB Media Usage of Social Media reveals B2B journalists are increasingly using social media tools to ferret out story ideas and connect with sources. This year’s survey found that 92% of journalists have a LinkedIn account, 85% are on Facebook, and 84% use Twitter. Moreover, nearly 50% blog or read blogs regularly.

The TechTarget Media Consumption Benchmark Report “Closing the Gap between IT Buyers and IT Marketers” uncovered that IT buyers find information from unbiased sources (like blogs, online communities, and social networks) is more useful during the awareness and consideration stages of the buying process. So if you’re going to jump on the bandwagon, consider starting here.