Thursday, December 20, 2007

Social Media Now Top Information Source for B2B IT Buyers

Following up on its first study on the value of Web 2.0 social media sites by B2B IT decision-makers, researchers at ITtoolbox have just published their second report on the topic. ITtoolbox/PJA IT Social Media Index Wave II updates the earlier findings and concludes that "IT decision-maker and influencer audiences (now) spend more time consuming or participating in social media than they do consuming editorial media or vendor content." IT buyers spend an average of 3.3 hours per week consuming user-generated content (such as blogs, podcasts, wikis, social networking sites and online forums) versus 3.1 hours for published editorial content and 2.9 hours on vendor-produced content.

Other key findings from the new study include:

  • Executive decision-makers spent more time with social media than any other level, at nearly four hours per week. This group was also the heaviest consumer of online content in general.

  • Discussion groups and peer-to-peer networks were the most frequently used types of social media, followed closely by social networks (e.g. LinkedIn, Facebook and Wink) and blogs.

  • More than half of IT decision makers said it was extremely or very valuable to reach out to peers beyond their personal contacts when considering a technology purchase.

  • Search is the most important source of information during the research phase, while discussion groups and blogs are the most heavily used tools for narrowing a vendor list and conducting a final evaluation.

  • Social media consumption is higher than traditional online editorial content, and the gap is increasing as nearly all groups of IT decision makers increase their use of social media content.

For B2B vendors, the message is clear: participating (properly) across social media venues is now the most influential way to reach buyers. B2B IT decision makers are increasing less interested in advertising and more eager to get unbiased information from their peers. Vendors can participate as well, but will be effective only by adding valuable content to these discussions, which enhances credibility and leads (ultimately though not immediately) to higher sales.

Again, the ITtoobox/PJA report on social media use by B2B IT buyers is available here.


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