Do you ever sit back and dream big for your business? And set aside time to think about how your business is handling new technology and tools in ways that will create real separation between you and your competition?
If you're not, your business is probably not developing as fast as it could be. In the long run, businesses that seriously invest time into "Big Picture" thinking reap incredible rewards in the not-so-distant future. This is why using all available credible information to understand your markets behavior is so valuable. In particular, cracking the code of your audiences' social media activities is extremely valuable information.
Ideally, you are already tracking your specific social media interactions with your customers, clients, and prospects. But what about a macro-view - something that gives context to your efforts to connect online? Forrester Research, Inc. offers a tool that delivers a somewhat scarce commodity in the world of social media talk: hard data broken down into helpful categories.
To understand the data, you first need to understand the 7 categories Forrester uses to separate social media users based on their behavior. Here are the labels, brief examples of the behavior, and the percentage of each type:
- Creators - Publish a blog or webpage, create & post a video, write articles or stories and post them (24%)
- Conversationalists - Update status on social networking site and/or Twitter posts (33%)
- Critics -Post ratings or reviews, comment on blog posts, interact on forums, contribute or edit to wiki (37%)
- Collectors - Use RSS feeds, vote for websites online, tag photos or webpages (20%)
- Joiners - Maintain a profile on social networking site, visit social media sites (59%)
- Spectators - Read blogs & other online content, watch online videos, listen to podcasts (70%)
- Inactives - None of the above (17%)
(You'll note that the categories are not exclusive and therefore add up to greater than 100%. For example, if you are a "Creator," you likely meet the criteria for all the others except "Inactive").
It can be eye-opening to think about the percentages for just a moment. Only 17% don't participate and at least 70% are reading, watching, and listening. A majority are actively participating in some way, even if it is to just maintain a profile. The "forest through the trees" perspective says that this level of participation is astounding when put in the context of how relatively short a time these tools have been available.
As you begin thinking through ways to use the specific data, it is very useful to get comfortable with the categories themselves. While taking someone who only fits the "Spectator" profile to the "Creator" level is likely unrealistic, it is possible to develop ideas to encourage users to jump up a level or two of engagement. Some "Spectators" might be encouraged to become "Critics" if you end a blog post with a question and a request for comments. Maybe a "Joiner" could be convinced to become a "Conversationalist" by offering an incentive to post to your company's Facebook page.
Thinking in terms of levels of engagement will also help you avoid the mistake of assuming all your efforts should be focused exclusively on those willing to most engage. More engagement is certainly good, but focusing on one category type alone could mean you are turning off significant percentages of your market.
It is recommended that you visit Forrester's site to be able to break down the demographics and get more specific data. You can do that here. Forrester makes it simple to sort by gender or age cohort (or both). To get access to more specific data and the questions they used to collect the data, consider subscribing to Forrester.
One of the best uses of specific data is knowing where to "fish" online... and what kind of "bait" to use. If your particular market has a high percentage of "Conversationalists" but is low on "Creators," this should influence how and where you put your social media efforts. It should also influence the methods of social media interaction you encourage.
Using the "Big Picture" data will dictate who you are (or should be) talking to; where you should be talking to them; and how you should be saying it. Businesses that master those areas earn the right to dream big and expect a handsome reward for their efforts.
How are you using social analytics to customize messaging and drive customer behavior?