The Society for New Communications Research (SNCR) has just published the findings from its latest research on the role that social media has on decision-making among business professionals. For the full report, visit www.sncr.org.
Six key findings of the study include:
1. professional decision-making is becoming more social – enter the era of Social Media Peer Groups (SMPG). Traditional influence cycles are being disrupted by social media as decision makers utilise social networks to inform and validate decisions.
2. The big three have emerged as leading professional networks: LinkedIn, Facebook & Twitter. The average professional belongs to 3-5 online networks for use. The convergence of internet, mobile and social media has taken significant shape as professionals rely on anywhere access to information, relationships and networks.
3. Professional networks are emerging as decision-support tools. Decision-makers are broadening reach to gather information especially among active users.
4. Professionals trust online information almost as much as information gotten from in-person. Information obtained from offline networks still has highest levels of trust with slight advantage over online (offline – 92%; online – 83%)
5. Reliance on web-based professional networks and online communities has increased significantly over the past three years. 3/4 of respondents rely on professional networks to support business decisions. Reliance has increased for essentially all respondents over the past three years.
6. Social Media use patterns are not pre-determined by age or organisational affiliation. Younger (20-35) and older (55+) professionals are more active users of social tools than middle-aged professionals. There are more people collaborating outside their company wall than within their organisational intranet.
What does this all mean?
1. Social media is supplementing the traditional professional decision-making cycle with great affect. The era of Social Media Peer Group (SMPG) has arrived and information will travel at a business velocity that has never been seen before enabled by the internet and web 2.0 technologies.
2. Challenges are facing marketers who endeavour to manage or control social media network content. Traditional cycles of decision-making are being disrupted by SMPG. Managing and influencing professional decision-making will be the major challenge as professionals often do not seek the information that marketers want to share online.
3. The greatest opportunity business has is to engage collaborative influence – via immediacy of impact through social channels.