Late last year, IDG conducted two studies – one to gain insight into how tech buyers engage with tech content in multiple environments, and another to understand tech marketers’ priorities in each area.¹ At a broad level the research confirmed what we already know – tech buyers rely on a variety of sources for tech related content and knowledge. However, while tech-related websites, print pubs and tech vendor sites still lead as key information sources, various other sources, including social media sites/services are playing an increasingly important role.¹
The results of these studies provide further insight into the growing influence of social media and social content, and clearly demonstrate a shift in attitude toward social media as a valuable and reliable source of information. The perceived value of social content more than doubled from 2011 to 2012 (26% vs. 53%), and the percent of people who found social content to be extremely or very trustworthy nearly doubled (9% vs. 15%) since 2011.¹
Tech buyers are using social media for much more than connecting with friends and family. In fact, when asked how they are using social media, the top reason cited was to “stay on top of industry trends, seek peer perspective to help make purchase decisions, and receive tech advice from others.” This trend was particularly true for Senior IT management, who are significantly more likely to use social media to engage in dialogue with tech experts or to check into tech-related events than other groups.¹
What does this mean for IT marketers? They must recognize the value of social media, begin to join in and become a relevant part of conversations, and strategically use the opportunities to influence purchase decisions.
While choice in content sources creates many opportunities for tech marketers to engage with tech buyers, it also introduces many new challenges for marketers who are learning how to manage and market their brands in a social world. When it comes to following tech-related conversations, Twitter and LinkedIn perform very well (50% and 44% respectively), a trend seen in past studies, but are closely followed by Facebook (35%) and Google+ (33%), further demonstrating the need for a multifaceted social media strategy.¹
As focus shifts to this multifaceted social media strategy, tracking ROI becomes increasingly more important. However, while 95% of tech marketers are investing in social media¹, 75% are still not tracking ROI². Marketing, like all departments today, is expected to demonstrate ROI, and needs to get a handle on this – fast. The opportunity to reach customers and prospects socially is clear and can be measured – and justified – through a robust analysis of reach statistics.
In this “information anytime, anywhere” world we now operate within, how are you using social media to connect, engage and influence tech buyers?
For more on IT executives’ engagement with social media, view our webcast.
¹Tech Buyer/Influencer and Tech Marketer Surveys, IDG Research Services, October, 2011