IT buyers use social media without knowing it

According to a six-country study conducted by NetMediaEurope, publisher of eWEEK Europe UK, only 12 percent of IT decision makers across Europe believe they use social media to inform their decisions.

However, on close questioning, more than treble the amount of respondents (38 percent) claimed to react to social media discussions at least once per week. And 23 percent are heavy users of social media, employing it in ways which support their IT decisions.

The research looked into how people use Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, when selecting office and technical equipment.

When it came to how IT decision makers use social media, one third (33 percent) admitted to being moderate users – going onto social networks to keep informed. 12 percent of respondents claimed to be high profile users – being very active, and adding their own content to relevant sites.

And, when gauging opinion on how IT related information is exchanged on social networking sites, one third of respondents said they could live without these sites, one third were neutral, and the remaining one third admitted to relying heavily on them.

Commenting on the findings, Dominique Busso, CEO of NetMediaEurope, said: “It is possible that the very transparency and ease of use of social media has masked the extent to which people use these sites. Respondents tended to talk about using advice from experts and other individuals, without focusing on the fact that that advice is increasingly brought to them through social media.

“I firmly believe social networking sites are here to stay. IT pros seem almost suspicious of social media, but are all too keen to use the platform when they perceive they are getting value from it.”

Adding his comments, Peter Judge, editor-in-chief at eWeek Europe UK, said: “The finding that one in eight IT decision makers consciously use social media for purchasing, and one in four uses them as a support tool, suggests there has been a big change, given that the use of social media was all but prohibited from general use in companies a few years ago.”

According to the survey, a high proportion use Facebook for business purposes (51 percent is the European average, rising to 73 percent when it comes to corporations). Twitter and Linkedin are rated less highly (in corporations, 45 percent used Linkedin, and less than 40 percent said they used Twitter). 51 percent said they use social media for networking; 47 percent as a useful information tool and 46 percent for marketing purposes.

The UK remains the heaviest user of social media, or the European capital of Twitter (54 percent, compared to 13 percent for Italy). IT pros invest time and presence on social media.

German IT professionals invest time in social media, and consider it a reliable support of IT purchase. They mix traditional and modern through highly skilled marketing knowledge, and rely heavily on Facebook (76 percent).

Spanish IT managers consider themselves very active with regards to social media tools, even if they also remain loyal to traditional market models, French IT professionals declare themselves more passive then their European fellows with regards social media, while Italian IT pros seem to be the least interested in social media tools and their market model is more top-down.

Christian Harris is editor and publisher of BCW. Christian has over 20 years' publishing experience and in that time has contributed to most major IT magazines and Web sites in the UK. He launched BCW in 2009 as he felt there was a need for honest and personal commentary on a wide range of business computing issues. Christian has a BA (Hons) in Publishing from the London College of Communication.