In my quest to uncover how we can use social media tools to reach technology purchase decision makers, I came across a series of interesting studies done by ITtoolbox and PJA.In June 2007, ITtoolbox and PJA conducted an inaugural Social Media Index Survey to assess the impact of emerging media and online communities on the technology purchase process. They subsequently executed two additional surveys in November 2007 and August 2008. The goal – To determine the influence of social media tools through distinct stages of the purchase process and assess the credibility of online communities as an extension of personal networks. Here’s what they found:• IT decision-maker and influencer audiences spend more time consuming or participating in social media than they do consuming editorial media or vendor content.• Executive decision-makers spend nearly 4 hours per week consuming or participating in social media — the highest usage profile.• IT decision-makers and influencers spend more time with and increasingly consider online communities — discussion groups, peer-to-peer networks, social networks – as extensions of their existing network of personal contacts.• More than half of IT decision makers and influencers consider it important/valuable to reach out beyond personal contacts to peers.• When utilizing social media for technology purchasing decisions, search is the most important information source during the early (awareness) stages of the buying cycle.• When utilizing social media for technology purchasing decisions, topic-based networks and personal networks are the most important sources of information in the consideration and evaluation stages.• IT decision-makers rated topic-based communities as the most important social media source of information throughout all stages of the purchase cycle.• There is an unmet need and significant opportunity for online social networks. All categories of IT decision-makers and influencers expressed a need for more online networking communities.Clearly, it is possible to reach IT decision makers in the digital world. Knowing this, I think the discussion now centers around where is your ideal customer footprint online and how can you get in front of them? I’ll be looking into this next. Complete detail from these surveys is available online at:ITtoolbox/PJA November 2007 Survey Results and ITtoolbox/PJA August 2008 Survey Results .