LinkedIn Explains How Professionals Use Social Media to Shop for Gadgets

By Devon Glenn 

Professionals are turning to their networks and other experts to make decisions about their next smartphone, tablet, or other gadget on LinkedIn, according to the results of the company’s annual Consumer Technology study.

In general, the network draws a tech-savvy crowd. Researchers learned that “88 percent of LinkedIn members own smartphones, compared to 46 percent of the general population,” according to the blog post, “and 62 percent of LinkedIn members own tablets, compared to only 22 percent generally.”

Among other insights about the purchasing behaviors and demographics of people who use LinkedIn, the study examined the impact of social networking on the buying process.

The statistics are based on a survey of LinkedIn members conducted in the U.S. in Dec. 2012.

Michael Weir, who leads LinkedIn’s Marketing Solutions efforts in the technology sector, offered some additional insight as to how people use social media before and after they buy a new gadget.

  • 56 percent of LinkedIn members turn to their social networks for advice before they make a purchase.

Some people post a link to an article about a new product or a product update and ask their connections for an opinion, said Weir. Other times, members will join a group built around smartphones or tablets, or reach out to a thought leader to get a recommendation from someone they don’t know personally, but whose opinion they trust.

  • 53 percent of LinkedIn members share information about what they buy after they make a purchase.

People who broadcast their purchases are generally looking for advice on how to use the products better, Weir said, such as features they should try and which apps or accessories they should also invest in. “They are creating a signal for their peer group to reach out to them,” he explained. Those who do reach out may reciprocate by asking what other products the buyer had considered before making a final decision.

  • LinkedIn does not see a lot of customer service complaints. 

“We’re fortunate in that LinkedIn members give very positive and constructive feedback on our platform,” Weir said, which is due in part to the way people use LinkedIn to establish a professional identity online. Any negative comments they share about a company could potentially come back to haunt them, so members choose their words carefully when voicing a concern. “In an anonymous environment,” he noted, “people are more likely to lash out.”