In a study that underscores the importance of social media in the technology buying process, LinkedIn found that almost three-quarters of tech buyers engage with IT vendors on social networks as part of their decision process.
The report, “IT Purchasing Goes Social,” was based on an online survey of 1,176 global IT decision-makers, conducted by Forrester Research for LinkedIn in the third quarter.
“Within the technology sector, we have been seeing a rapid evolution of digital technologies and what looks like big adoption of social media,” said Mike Weir, head of the category development-technology sector at LinkedIn. “The technology decision-making process is continuing to get more and more stakeholders, and IT is becoming more strategically involved.”
The survey found that 85% of IT decision-makers use at least one social network for business purposes, while 73% have engaged with a vendor on social networks.
“Specific channels of influence continue to be very diverse in how and where IT decision-makers interact,” Weir said, pointing to research findings that show the influence of social media during different stages of the technology purchase cycle.
During the awareness phase, 54% of tech buyers said they are influenced by social media. During the next phase, defined as “scope,” 45% of buyers said they are influenced by social media. In the planning phase, 46% are influenced by social media, moving to 47% in the select phase and 44% in the implementation phase, according to the study.
IT decision-makers said the top reasons they use social networks for business purposes are learning from trustworthy peers (cited by 58% of respondents); accessing a broader network (49%); quickly finding information (40%); learning from experts (39%); and connecting with vendors in a relevant context (37%). (Respondents could select more than one answer.)
The report recommended specific social media content for IT marketers to use during each stage of the tech buying process based on the content needs identified by tech buyers.
In the awareness stage, the top three content types are case studies, IT industry news and best practices. In the scope stage, best practices, case studies and product solution demos.
In the planning stage, the top three content types are best practices, how-to checklists and product solution demos. In the select stage, product solution demos, best practices and expert reviews and testimonials; and in the implementation stage, how-to guides, best practices and diagnostic or assessment tools.