Oh, Yes! Tech Buyers In Germany Are Well Into Social Media


By Peter O'Neill

Last week, I held my quarterly Forrester Teleconference and discussed my April report on how European tech buyers use social media. Usually, we Europeans are asked to speak twice in the day - once at a convenient time for European audiences and once for our clients in North America. Unusually for an analyst, I hate repeating myself. So I elected to present the European slot in German and present specifically about Germany. This was, I think, a first for Forrester. Of course, we also leveraged the opportunity to get a few prospects listening in and even had several journalists collecting information. Now, not every Forrester analyst can present in German, so don’t expect all of us to do this, but the fact is: We actually have more German-speaking analysts than that other research company. 

Our B2B Social Technographics data shows that German social media activity is really quite heavy: In some categories, the numbers we report show more aggressive behavior than in the US or other countries. After several client meetings where our data was questioned - especially by more experienced marketing executives who themselves are not using social media and expect the same backwardness from their peers - I am now well equipped with backup data that proves our points. So here is what I told the audience about German social media usage by tech buyers:

  • The Information Network Engram (INE) data from Strategic Oxygen, our new subsidiary, supports this data. It is continually researching which information sources buyers are using at different points in the sales cycle, and its latest data includes an impressive list of Web 2.0 sources named by German tech buyers.
  • Germany’s local-language Computerworld, Computerwoche (also run by IDG), also publishes a glossy CIO Magazine. CIO Magazine has a German language social network that includes over 10,000 members. Even if 60%/70% of these are not CIOs but “voyeurs” like you and me, 3,000 CIOs or equivalents is quite impressive. And the 11 different CIO Newsletters are subscribed to by over 100,000 professionals.
  • The German-language equivalent to LinkedIn is called Xing (www.xing.com) with many millions of members. Just browsing among the groups in Xing reveals that there are 3,006 groups under “Internet and Technology.” These include an “SAP” Group with over 22,000 members, one called “IT-Connection” with over 43,000, and “IT Service Management” with nearly 10,000 members.

The curiosity is - most tech marketers do not know this and are not considering the possibilities in their marketing plans for Germany. The tech vendor that develops an effective POST strategy reflecting the German-language behavior of their target audience is going to reap great benefits.

What do you think? Perhaps you represent a company that can show success with social media in Germany. Then I would love to know about you.

Always keeping you informed! Peter


Hi Peter, Interesting post –

Hi Peter,

Interesting post – I like the mere fact that Germany is in the center of attention here :-)

I have been leveraging social media for marketing CAD software for quite some time now, and, working for a global company, we do cover the big global platforms, such as Facebook and LinkedIn, and of course, in English. We do have a group on Xing.com as well that includes an English and a German-language forum.

You are right about Germans using social media and Xing is indeed very popular with German professionals. However, while I see people using it in many ways – for recruiting, maintaining business/customer contacts, searching new prospects, etc. - I think it is still behind other platforms in terms of usability and adoption.

Xing has only a few apps available and I think this area can be improved. Also, I have the feeling that Germans choose their activities very carefully (privacy protection) and there is still a certain shyness – more people read than post, though this is certainly changing over time.

From a marketer’s viewpoint, social media has become a daily business and important item in the marketing mix of our company. When talking to fellow marketers in Germany, however, there is – despite the “hype” – still a lot of uncertainty, lack of knowledge. Especially in the SMB space, where marketing departments often have tight resources (staff-wise), people are interested and curious, but have simply no time to explore the possibilities.


Thanks for the comment

Good to see our Marketing & Strategy clients reading my stuff as well. Remember, my group is focused on the needs of TECHNOLOGY MARKETERS - combining the knowledge and experience of Forrester's IT research as well as our general research around marketing.
And, I can do it all in German as well, being based down here near Stuttgart since 29 years.
Let me know if I can help you and your colleagues at PTC. BTW. I used to know some of the CoCreate people when I worked at HP in the 90s.

Big challenge for smaller vendors

Hi Peter,

A great idea to present that in German. I would have loved to join the teleconference but was out of office at that time. We as a smaller vendor with a nontheless dedicated Technology Product Management & Marketing team currently face two challenges:

- Convincing our client and channel partner audience to join our LinkedIn and XING groups for discussing product and solution related topics in a 1-to-many way and

- Convincing our non-marketing colleagues to actively participate in these groups, too, for the benefit of us all.

We´ve just set sail on our way to intensify communication with our communities (both words are close to each other, I just recognized). We introduced our growing user community to that idea on the USU World conference this year. I´m sure that especially the German-speaking professionals are "fertile soil" for us to plant new ideas on. I´m eager to read more about your experiences with companies/vendors of different sizes.

Can download the teleconference

Sibylle (and all others),
Don't forget you can download the complete WebEx file and replay it at your leisure. Go to Archived Teleconferences on the website to do that. You can also download the slides as well as an MP3 file to listen to. Put me on your iPod - I would then be found between Pink Floyd and Santana on your device.


Hello, I really appreciate this blog, I think you must try with others situations, and then explain the facts like you're doing here.