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December 14, 2007

Social Data Applied: Looking at travelers

by Josh Bernoff

Charlene's April post about the Social Technographics ladder got picked up by hundreds of bloggers -- no surprise since it's some of the only hard data out there about how different people participate in social technologies.

Now it's time to show how that data can be put to use.

In the previous post I talked about the POST method of social strategy, the first step of which is PEOPLE. You can't undertake as strategy until you know the behaviors of your audience. But how do you analyze those behaviors?

At Forrester we solved this problem with a survey that asked not just about social behaviors but about many, many other behaviors of consumers. The result is we can create a Social Technographics Profile of just about any group.

For example, have a look at these two graphics, which are the Social Technographics Profiles of people who travel. (For the definitions of the six groups I refer you back to the Social Technographics ladder. And remember, since the groups overlap, they add to more than 100%).


What can you learn from these? First of all, leisure travelers participate in social activities at about the same rate as average online adults. So if you're planning on using social networks, or blogs, or other forms of social applications with them, you can expect some participation. But just like average Americans, 43% of them are Inactives -- you won't be able to reach this segment.

Business travelers are different. The index of 150 for Creators means that these folks are 50% more likely to blog, upload videos, or indulge in other social creation activities compared to average Americans. They're more likely to be Critics (people who react to others' content), Joiners (people in social networks) and especially, Collectors (people who use RSS or voting sites like Digg).

If you're selling business travel, now you know that you have a high chance of success with a discussion forum, you could probably ask your customers to upload pictures and have it work, you should have an RSS feed, and you may want to look at marketing through LinkedIn or Facebook. All of these are more powerful for business travelers than leisure travelers.

What should you actually do? Well, that depends on your objectives. Start with People, go on to Objectives, then follow up with Strategy, and finish with choosing a technology (POST, remember?).

If you find this interesting you should know:

  • Sarah Rotman Epps' insightful report on travel and Social Technographics is available to Forrester clients here. That's where I stole the graphics from.
  • There are a dozen similar graphics in Groundswell. This data is part of the value we're trying to create in the book. It's behind everything.
  • We can use this to analyze anything from Toyota owners to online banking customers to Target shoppers. We are building these questions into nearly all of our surveys moving forward so we can score just about anything.
  • And if you've gotten this far, stay tuned. On Monday we'll display the Social Technographics of voters -- Democrats, Republicans, and supporters of the top presidential candidates.

I think data like this is fascinating. Do you?


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