Social networks drive IT purchasing process

IT purchasing decisions can be daunting, but a new study by Forrester Research and LinkedIn finds that IT decision makers (ITDMs) are relying heavily on social networks to help them through the process.

The study, “IT Purchasing Goes Social,” surveyed 400 ITDMs across a range of industries throughout North America and finds that 85 percent have used at least one social network for business purposes.

More surprising, according to Mike Weir, Head of Category Development at LinkedIn, is the extent to which ITDMs use social networks during the purchasing process.

“Social media is a critical source of influence across the entire decision-making process,” he says. “Not just during the research phase. The days of people thinking of social media as just an awareness platform is gone–it’s much more than that now.”

Fifty-nine percent of respondents say they are influenced by at least one social network when considering business purchases—more so than by online general media publications (46 percent).

As a result, social networks are becoming a hotbed of activity for technology marketers: 73 percent of respondents say they have engaged with an IT vendor on a social network.

“CIOs are working extremely close with the chief marketing officers,” Wier says. “That presents marketers with a unique opportunity to reach these IT decision makers in ways they never could before.”

ITDMs are turning to social networks now, the report says, for four reasons:

To learn from trusted peers (58 percent), to quickly find information (40 percent), for relevant context to connect with vendors (37 percent), and for access to a broader network (49 percent).

Of the top three social networks–Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook–ITDMs turn to LinkedIn most often to identify credentials of information sources (71 percent), to validate information from other sources (58 percent) and for a trusted channel for vendor information (55 percent).

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