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LinkedIn an Influential Force in IT Purchasing Process

by Lenna Garibian  |  
November 15, 2012

Social networks overall have a growing and pervasive influence on the information technology (IT) purchasing process, despite the multiplicity of digital channels available to IT decision makers (ITDMs), according to studies from Forrester Consulting and Research Now, both commissioned by LinkedIn.

Moreover, LinkedIn has become an influential resource across the entire IT decision-making process, the research found.

To better understand how ITDMs are making purchasing decisions in an environment of information overload, LinkedIn commissioned a Forrester Consulting study titled "IT Purchasing Goes Social" and a ResearchNow study titled "IT Decision Makers Turn to LinkedIn." Both studies polled ITDMs across a diverse range of industries in North America.

Below, selected findings from those studies, as issued by LinkedIn.

ITDMs are heavy users of social networks:

  • 85% use at least one social network for business purposes.
  • 73% have engaged with an IT vendor via a social network.

However, LinkedIn is the preferred choice for ITDMs: 95% have used the professional networking site for business in the previous year, compared with 45% who have used personal social networks (e.g., Facebook) and 44% who have used microblogs (e.g., Twitter).

Influence of Social Networks

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Lenna Garibian is a MarketingProfs research writer and a marketing consultant in the tech industry, where she develops engaging content that builds thought leadership and revenue opportunities for clients. She's held marketing and research positions at eRPortal Software, GAP Inc., Stanford University, and the IMF. Reach Lenna via Twitter @LennaAnahid and LinkedIn.

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  • by Jay Hallberg Thu Nov 15, 2012 via web

    It's great to see big names like LinkedIn and Forrester sharing this research. It certainly jibes with what we've seen at Spiceworks (community for IT pros and IT vendors in the SMB space): professionals prefer professional networks when researching and making purchases. In fact, in our studies earlier this year we found 65% (higher than 59% cited here but in the ballpark) turn to professional (not social per se) networks to make their decisions. This is higher in SMBs than enterprises as SMB IT pros are typically on their own or in small teams and don't have a huge IT department to tap for help and advice.

    Finding an IT pro would rather interact or learn about Cisco in LinkedIn than in Facebook shouldn't really be a shock. The IT pros in Spiceworks have told us repeatedly that Facebook is where they keep in touch with largely non-IT friends (IF, they use it all) and Spiceworks is where they connect with other IT pros and IT vendors. The last thing they want to declare is their friendship for Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) or VMware to their friends from high school!

    I would like to see Forrester (or someone) do a deeper dive on this and compare specialized, industry- or profession-specific networks to LinkedIn. Examples include Spiceworks (IT), Wave Accounting (Small biz finance), Practice Fusion (health care), ResearchGate (R&D), and many more. We're finding that the specific networks while smaller tend to drive more engagement (often through free tools to do a job), more job-specific data, and more community among their members and with their advertisers/sponsors.

    To be certain, the net result is that professional (social) networks are starting to make a big impact on entire industries where it matters most: the purchase process.

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