Social Media Doesn’t Influence My Buying Decisions. I Swear.

Over the weekend, from InformationWeek:

Practical Analysis: Social Networks Get Low Marks As Sources Of IT Info

Art Wittman cheerfully reports:

In a series of questions, we asked where you get your information and what you think of those sources, including vendor Web sites, IT trade magazines, business magazines and newspapers, E-mail newsletters, broad business tech sites (such as Information, focused tech sites (such as, analyst sites, virtual trade shows and Webinars, social networks (such as LinkedIn and Facebook), tech bloggers, and Twitter.

We used a five-point scale to gauge your opinion of relevance, reliability, timeliness, and bias for each as they relate to your work. Top responses varied a bit from question to question, but typically your top sources of information include broad IT Web sites, IT trade magazines, business news sites, and analyst sites. The bottom three responses were much more consistent: tech bloggers, social networks, and Twitter, with Twitter ranking by far the lowest in a number of categories.

As most scholars know, it’s never quite as precise to rely on people to report on their own behavior as it is to actually observe their actions. Asking people to report on the causes of their own behavior seems like an even less useful research method. Humans are motivated by a collection of often impractical and sometimes downright ridiculous set of factors… and few people have the self-insight – not to mention the humility – to accurately explain why they do the things they do. When presented with a respectable, logical, serious-looking set of alternative options (“IT trade magazines!” or “Business news sites!”), what kind of IT executive would claim that they are more influenced by their online friends and acquaintances, or by the frequency of a brand name on social networks? It sounds so irrational. And yet… most serious research on buying decisions reveals that what drives them is irrational. Purchases are made with emotion, and justified with logic.

To really start to study the influence of social media on IT buying decisions, you need to compare IT pros’ exposure to social media mentions of a company with their eventual purchases. The correlation may be small, or it may be large; but it will certainly be more informative than collecting buyers’ own self-psychoanalyses and reporting them as fact.


1 Comment »

  1. Matt West said

    As a consultant, I see the value of providing an online experience. In my experience, marketers cannot afford to ignore social media as an important part of a wider strategy. However, to unlock the power of Social Media, you need to understand Generation Y. Please see my review of Millennials and social media.

    See also the ways in which social media and sustainability are aligned.

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