Steve Rubel published an interesting take on a research report on social technographics by Forrester's Charlene Li. The premise for the research is to learn what kind of relationships you want to have with your customers, and then choose the appropriate technologies, instead of starting with the technology you use. It depends largely on what they are ready for, says Li.
This is another way of saying get to know your customers online: who they are, where they are, what they do when they go there, why they do it, and how they choose to do it. The attitudes, behaviors and profiles are categorized in six levels of participation, which may and do overlap (that's why the numbers won't total 100). At 13%, creators are still in the minority, followed by 19% critics, and 15% collectors. The joiners number 19%, while spectators and inactives still make up the largest number at respectively 33% and 52%.
It's time we thought about hybrids -- those people who combine the skillsets and passions of two main disciplines and can integrate the work between them. As well, hybrids exist on both sides of the equation: content creators are also audiences and customers. What Rubel calls smart agencies may be the agencies of the future that can integrate what they do in marketing and public relations into a cohesive support structure for brands. We have been calling what is happening in the marketplace: the conversation.
This doesn't mean that one size fits all; it means exactly the opposite. And it puts the customers back where they belong: in the center. Will all this attention pay off? It depends on what you ask whom to do, doesn't it? Just like the consumers may move up on the ladder, given the right circumstances and comfort level with technology, they may move closer to your brand.
I must smile about the ladder analogy. Steve started his post talking about a treadmill -- we're still using the language and metaphors of yesterday, no wonder we cannot move the conversation to tomorrow. David Armano at Logic+Emotion is using great visuals to show the overlapping of work and experience. Maybe part of the new way of looking at this information will be to collaborate with people who are making strides in translating what is happening into visuals.
Take a close look at the visualization David did here for a post on the 12 Consumer Values. Then let's go back to the ladder and look at the creators. Is it possible that many of the creators are not online yet? Indeed it is.
I would wager also that people move up and down the ladder (or the cycle of preference and engagement) according to a particular moment in their career and life. Native and nonnative may or may not have something to do with that. A while back I reported on the basic characteristics of life development stages as illustrated by Philadelphia-based center for Cultural Studies & Analysis.
Take a look at the intersecting phases of life and the ages displayed. Where is transformation occurring, for example? How is each of the stages used to evaluate your offering? Are your customers more likely to participate in some brand experiences at certain stages of their lives? Albeit important, and maybe more so with the generations of consumers growing up now, technology is but one way in which your customers experience your brands.
There are many more things to consider, we're talking about people after all, and our behaviour although somewhat researchable, cannot be entirely predicted. Are your brands calling customers to participate? How would you use all this information to help them do that?