I think we'll look back on 2009 as the year when social media had the greatest hype, and 2010 as the year we started to really figure out how to make it work. One of the questions that I often heard asked amid the hype this year was, "Are decision makers actually using social media?" For the answer, check out a great blog post by Chris Koch of the IT Services Marketing Association called "Want proof that the C-suite is into social media? Here it is."
The post is based on ITSMA's recent survey, "How Customers Choose Solution Providers, 2009: The Importance of Personalization, Epiphanies, and Social Media." Here's a quote from Chris' post:
We found that usage of social media among IT and business buyers of technology rose 50% over last year and finally pushed to majority status—55% said they use social media as part of the technology buying process in 2009 versus just 37% in 2008. More importantly, we found that executives in large organizations use social media more than in smaller organizations, and that C-suite executives actually use social media more than their lower-level buying peers. Just 15% of CEOs and directors said they did not use any form of social media at all, while 34% of manager/directors and 26% of VPs/Assistant vice presidents said they ignore the stuff.
Chris sums up the rationale behind all of this in a way that's hard to argue with:
This makes sense when you consider what our IT buyers have been telling us for years: that their peers are by far their most preferred and trusted choice for information during the buying process.
We all understand how this principle works one-to-one. Social media provides the tools for corporations to expand their existing relationships and build their influence, one-to-many.