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Nearly 40% of the online consumer conversations that focused on technology purchases last year centered on shoppers seeking help from “external influencers” with some sort of problem they were having getting the purchased product to work the way they wanted it to. 

For IT professionals about 23% of the conversation focused on support and purchase guidance. 

That’s according to an exhaustive study conducted by Starcom MediaVest Group and social insights firm Mashwork. The firms analyzed more than 4 million online conversations covering consumers and business/IT decision makers purchasing new technology products throughout 2012. 

The objective was to analyze the “social media decision journeys” of both professionals and consumers to inform media targeting and other strategic implications, according to the companies. 

“Technology companies can leverage this part of the conversation to better grasp the online perception of their products and to learn the reason why external influencers  recommend their competitors’ products instead of their own,” said Kate Sirkin, EVP global research at SMG. 



The research found that both consumers and professionals were “quick to express satisfaction or displeasure with a purchase,” the research found. And the success or failure of implementing a technology purchase became the deciding factor for customers becoming advocates or “saboteurs.” 

Creating advocates is vital, per the research, which found that 92% of consumers say they rely on recommendations from people they know to make purchasing decisions. And 70% of those individuals seek recommendations online. 

For consumers, much of the conversation focused on announcing their purchase. “Consumer purchases may be motivated by the desire to show off or elicit a sense of status,” the study concluded. 

That’s in sharp contrast to the professionals who, for the most part, did not announce purchases due to proprietary and competition issues. “Many companies are interested in keeping their internal processes private, whereas consumers want their technology purchases to be known by as many people as possible.” 

IT managers are the top-ranked users of the Web for information gathering, the study reported. Thus it is crucial for brands that wish to engage them to be active in social media. The report found that 81% of B2B tech companies have social media accounts, compared to 67% of B2C tech companies. Investing the time and resources on the social Web is an opportunity for both sets of companies to engage with and respond to customer needs more quickly than competitors. 

“Today’s B2B and consumer IT decision makers are more knowledgeable than ever about the negatives and positives of all technology products,” said Sirkin. “Marketers need to pay particular attention to how they are perceived online and start to leverage opportunities like the engagement of online communities and their connections to have a conversation with potential buyers.”

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