Forrester’s new Social Technographics report
By Charlene Li
We just released a new report that Josh and I wrote, titled "Social Technographics". Here's the executive summary:
Many companies approach social computing as a list of technologies to be deployed as needed – a blog here, a podcast there – to achieve a marketing goal. But a more coherent approach is to start with your target audience and determine what kind of relationship you want to build with them, based on what they are ready for. Forrester categorizes social computing behaviors into a ladder with six levels of participation; we use the term "Social Technographics" to describe analyzing a population according to its participation in these levels. Brands, Web sites, and any other company pursuing social technologies should analyze their customers' Social Technographics first, and then create a social strategy based on that profile.
At the heart of Social Technographics is consumer data that looks at how consumers approach social technologies – not just the adoption of individual technologies. We group consumers into six different categories of participation – and participation at one level may or may not overlap with participation at other levels. We use the metaphor of a ladder to show this, with the rungs at the higher end of the ladder indicating a higher level of participation.
For example, 13% of US online adult consumers are "Creators" meaning that they have posted to a blog, updated a Web page, or uploaded video they created within the last month. I would fall this group because of this blog. I'm also an avid user of services like del.icio.us so would be a "Collector" as well. But I'm not really active on social networking sites – I'm there mostly for professional reasons, not personal ones, so wouldn't be a "Joiner". Lastly, while I enjoy reading environmental blogs like Treehugger, I'm mostly a "Spectator" when it comes to that content area, although I occasionally add a comment here and there.
The value of Social Technographics comes when it's used by companies to create their social strategies. For example, in the report we look at how Social Technographics profiles differ by primary life motivation, site usage, and even PC ownership.
The report also lays out how companies can create strategies using Social Technographics. For example, I've used the "participation ladder" to help figure out which social strategies to deploy first – and also how to encourage users to "climb up", so to speak, from being Spectators to becoming more engaged. It's my belief that not everyone is cut out from the start to be a Creator; nor is everyone inclined to jump with both feet into social networking. Companies seeking to engage customers with these new tools need to understand where their audiences are with this categorization.
I'll be holding a Teleconference on this topic on Tuesday, April 24 2007 at 1pm EST – more details are available at http://www.forrester.com/Teleconference/Overview/1,5158,1848,00.html (note: there is a charge for non-Forrester clients).
Also, if you are a blogger in this space and would like to have a review copy of the report, please send an email to Tracy Sullivan [tsullivan at forrester.com] with your name and URL of your blog. I'd love to get feedback on how useful you find this approach. Update: If your blog is affiliated with a sizable company, you may be getting a friendly call or email from a Forrester salesperson to see if you're interested in receiving more research from Forrester. This is because I need to walk a fine line between giving away our research to potential customers and providing review copies for bloggers. Hope you understand, and let me know if you have any questions about this.