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IT Execs, Decision-Makers Lean on Social Media to Make Purchasing Decisions

What -- you think we're
reading press releases?

IT decision-makers and influencers place significant trust in user-generated content.

Product reviews from "real people" are used as information sources for purchasing decisions. And topic-based or personal networks also factor in during the consideration and final evaluation stages.

That's according to Wave II of the IT Social Media Index, released by ITtoolbox and PJA Advertising + Marketing (via MarketingCharts).

IT executives report that they use social media information sources — topic-based communities, blogs, and discussion groups — more than 3.7 hours per week, an increase from the nearly 3.5 hours reported in Wave I of the survey, in June 2007.

Wave II takes a closer look at the influence of social media tools on distinct stages of the purchasing process and to assess the credibility of online communities as an extension of personal networks.

"Professionals have increasingly adopted online communities as part of their daily workflow," said George Krautzel, president and cofounder of ITtoolbox.

"By having access to peers in topic-based communities or their personal connections, professionals are able to draw upon experience-based best practice information and make more informed decisions. As communities of practice continue to evolve, we expect this value to only strengthen."

Among key findings of the survey:

  • IT decision-makers and influencers spend more time consuming social media than they do consuming traditional online editorial media or content from vendors.

  • Executive decision-makers spend nearly 4 hours per week on consuming and participating in social media, an increase from Wave 1. This group still maintains the highest social-media usage profile among all IT audiences.

  • IT decision-makers and influencers consider online networks as a trusted extension of their personal networks:
    • More than half of the survey respondents consider it valuable to reach out to peers beyond their personal networks.
    • Discussion groups, peer-to-peer networks and social networks are the most popular social media tools in terms of usage.


IT professionals rely on different types social media tools at distinct stages of the technology purchase process:

  • Search is the most important activity during the early stages of the technology purchase process.
  • Topic-based networks and personal networks are the most important sources of information in the consideration and final evaluation stages of purchase.
  • Unlike the other groups, IT decision-makers rated topic-based communities as the most important source of information through all stages of the technology purchase process.

About the survey: In November 2007, the survey was distributed globally to more than 400,000 members of the ITtoolbox community.

More than 4,400 IT and business professionals responded, including C-level IT executives, business managers, IT analysts, administrators and software developers. They answered a series of questions about social-media consumption and the tools they consider important at various levels in the technology decision-making process.


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