The social CTO: C-suite tech buyers’ psychological motivations and true social media behaviour

Jul 29, 2019 | Social, Social media

The social CTO: C-suite tech buyers’ psychological motivations and true social media behaviour
Chief Technology Officers and Chief Information Officers are much bigger users of social media than their other top level counterparts within companies, according to new research.

B2CTO, a new study on the social media habits of senior IT and technology buyers has revealed that CTOs and CIOs over-index on the use of social when compared to their other C-suite colleagues.

The study, which launches today, was developed by LAB, the independent digital agency that uses a blend of consumer neuroscience, psychology and behavioural economics to design, build and market digital brands and experiences, and Immediate Future, the specialist social media agency.

The research uncovers surprising and unique insights into today’s CTO’s social habits, as well as revealing how marketers can use consumer neuroscience and psychology techniques to engage with these decision-makers.

Socially active CTOs

LAB and Immediate Future’s study shows that IT and tech buyers over-index against their fellow C-suite execs when it comes to the use of social media.

39% follow content that’s relevant to their work, and 37% use social media to network for work purposes, with 69% using chat and messaging apps alongside social networking.

The social shop window

The study reveals that senior IT buyers use social media as a place to find tech brands, with 45% following brands they like, and a third following brands they plan to buy from. What’s more, 21.5% admit to clicking on a promoted or sponsored post from a brand within the last month.

According to Tom Head, Sales & Marketing Director at LAB, “Buyers rely heavily on brand content as they research, evaluate and compile their vendor short-lists. Savvy marketers should give them what they want, with useful, attention-grabbing content which they can also share with their peers in order to position themselves as thought-leaders. Status matters to these people!”

Monkey, Lion, Dog

LAB and Immediate Future’s work shows that buyers of IT and tech products are complex and varied in their motivations. LAB’s proprietary ‘Monkey, Lion, Dog’ framework enables marketers to better understand and empathise with seemingly irrational audience motives and engage them in a way that strikes a chord.

The research revealed that the technical C-suite are mostly rational thinkers, but also quite contextually-minded. This means that while they are interested in classic business concerns such as profitability and meeting targets, they are also thinking about receiving industry recognition and being champions of change.

Read all about it

Senior IT and tech buyers like to keep up-to-date on news and current affairs. They are 38% more likely than their other C-suite colleagues to follow news organisations on social channels, and 30% more likely to follow politicians.

Hot topics

When it comes to the themes IT professionals are discussing on social, cybersecurity is still a hot topic, while the IoT has been superseded by more specialised terms such as AI, machine learning, blockchain, and various other smaller topic bubbles on business and robotics.

Video: the way to go

41% of senior IT buyers watch videos on Facebook, and they are as likely to watch a brand’s video on Facebook than they are to read an email newsletter. This reflects LAB’s neuromarketing research, which shows that videos are difficult to ignore because our primal brains are wired to be sensitive to movement. Using consumer neuroscience techniques enables marketers to create video which both attracts and retains attention.

Tom Head, Sales & Marketing Director, LAB, commented: “Many marketers believe that the more senior the target, the more difficult they are to reach – but our research tells a different story. Senior tech and IT buyers can be found – and they’re open to brand messaging, but with so much noise on social channels, brands need to use behavioural insights to create content which gets real cut-through.”

Katy Howell, CEO, Immediate Future, added: “There was once a clear line between B2B and consumer marketing, but social is changing this. CTOs and Heads of Innovation are now as much consumers as they are high-level execs. Knowing where they go, why they go there, and what they do when they’re there, can help inform a brand’s social strategy. Creating content that senior IT professionals trust, that takes the right tone, and that is easy for them to like and share, will increase the chance of engagement.”


LAB analysed social conversations of IT buyers using the intelligence tool Brandwatch, which allows us to look at the themes, behaviours, and interests of those that are active on social. By specifically identifying conversations and posts on Twitter using mention of job title in the biography, we have a dataset that spans the US, UK, France, Canada, India and Spain.

To further understand the psychology of the technical C-suite, LAB has conducted qualitative research with its home-baked psychometric tool, Monkey Lion Dog. The unique psychological test combines several well-established theories in the psychology community and uncovers the intrinsic motivations of any group of people.

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