Jan 28, 2010

Social Technographics: Conversationalists get onto the ladder

by Josh Bernoff
Two and a half years ago, Charlene Li and I introduced Social Technographics, a way to analyze your market's social technology behavior. Social Technographics was carefully constructed, not as a segmentation, but as a profile (that is, the groups overlap). That's because the actual data told me that people participate in multiple behaviors, and not everyone at a higher level on the ladder actually does everything in the lower rungs.
Well, it worked. Despite the rapid pace of technology adoption, the rungs on the ladder have shown steady growth, with some (like Joiners) growing faster than others (like Creators). We have analyzed data for 13 countries, for business buyers, and even for voters. My colleagues and I have done profiles for over a hundred clients, profiling Walmart shoppers, non-profit donors, and doctors.
In all that time, only one thing has been bugging me: there was no place for Twitter.
We fixed that today.
Social Techno Ladder Mark 2

As you can see from the graphic, we added a new rung, "Conversationalists". Conversationalists reflects two changes. First, it includes not just Twitter members, but also people who update social network status to converse (since this activity in Facebook is actually more prevalent than tweeting). And second, we include only people who update at least weekly, since anything less than this isn't much of a conversation.
Conversationalists intrigue me. They're 56% female, more than any other group in the ladder. While they're among the youngest of the groups, 70% are still 30 and up.
The data from this survey continues the trends from the last two years -- Spectators are maxing out at around 70%, Joiners are still growing rapidly, and Creators are still growing slowly.
As in any social environment, people have found lots of uses for this data, some of which make sense to me, and some which don't. Here are three ways you can use it:
1. Convince your boss this stuff is for real, and that if you haven't jumped on it, you're late.
2. Profile your customer base, and see what they're ready for, before planning a project to reach out to them. (After all, People is the first step in the POST process.)
3. Segment your audience; build different strategies for different segments. (Social is so prevalent now that a single approach for your company is probably too broad.)
How will you use it?
Note: For Forrester clients, full access to the research is available here.