Does social media offer buyers more choice, or just more white noise?

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
8 May 2014

9 May 2014 | Will Green

Will GreenSocial media has transformed the business environment and organisations ignore it at their peril.

That’s the message from Rob Wilmot, a non-executive director at the Crown Commercial Service and a crown representative for software, as well as a businessman in his own right.

He told a CIPS event yesterday the cost of boosting your business's profile had been cut by social media, but at the same time the success of organisations would depend on their ability to harness it.

“Social media has reduced the cost of getting to market,” he told delegates. “How savvy you are at getting out on social media is now deciding the value of your organisation.”

This has implications for procurement. With more and more firms aiming to raise their profile, buyers potentially have access to suppliers they would never have considered, or even known about, previously.

With a supplier’s hat on, Wilmot described instances in which he had used social media sites such as Twitter and LinkedIn to generate thousands of pounds of business with a well placed blog or tweet. The opportunities appear to be there for the taking.

“Social media is touching everyone in life. It’s embedded in business,” said Wilmot.

He did warn that, despite appearances, social media was not a free pass to success. “You have to be prepared to invest,” he said. “There’s a myth that social media is free. You have to invest time. You may get some early quick wins but immediate success is the exception rather than the rule.”

However, whether this flood of potential suppliers helps or hinders procurement professionals is another matter. Is social media opening up a world of genuine choice, or just generating more white noise in the marketplace?

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