Do business leaders trust social media to support decision-making?


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We all know that social media usage has ramped up explosively in recent years, for personal networking and to support consumer decision-making.

Like, say, “What do you think about Apple’s new iPad?

That’s all well and good for consumers, but is social media being relied upon as a trusted source of information for business decisions? That’s one key question that Don Bulmer and Vanessa DiMauro tried to answer in a global study conducted as part of a SNCR fellowship.

Vanessa has offered the full report for download, but I’d like to share and comment on some of the highlights in this post. I think this study is significant because nearly 1/4 of the 356 respondents were CEOs, and 50% were VP or higher level. Clearly these are the levels where decisions are made or heavily influenced.

The short answer is yes, social media is becoming a disruptive force and more trusted source in professional decision-making. The “big three” professional networks are (no big surprise here) LinkedIn, Facebook & Twitter.

According to the report: “Decision makers utilize social networks to inform and validate decisions” and “Professionals want to be collaborative in the decision-cycle.” On the question of trust, the study found that “Professionals trust online information almost as much as information gotten from in-person.” However, offline sources still hold an edge — 28% said they “strongly trust” info gained from offline networking vs. 14% for online sources.

Still, the big picture is that reliance on social media is growing for professional decision-making, as you can see in this chart.

While there were some differences in usage patters by age, social sources are not just being used by the “kids.” It’s interesting to note, however, that younger (20-35) and older (55+) are more active users than middle-aged. Anyone have a theory about why that would be?

Internal social networking still has plenty of room for improvement — currently more people are collaborating outside their company than inside. Shocking!

The report doesn’t explain why that is, but I’d hazard a guess that it has to do with the leadership/culture of companies and the (lack of) availability of easy-to-use collaboration tools. However, the study did find that the majority of respondents expect to increase internal usage of social media to share more content and support more company-wide communications. No doubt Enterprise 2.0 vendors will be happy to fill that void!

You can download the full 27-page report here:
Social Media’s Role in Decision Making by Business Professionals.
(Note: Available to registered CustomerThink members with a completed profile.)

Thanks again to Vanessa for sharing this insightful report, and to Don and Vanessa for their thought leadership in social business!


  1. Social media have been modernized to reach consumers through the internet. Social media have become appealing to big and small businesses. Credible brands are utilizing social media to reach customers and to build or maintain reputation. As social media continue to grow,microsoft certification the ability to reach more consumers globally has also increased.


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