If you're not familiar with Groundswell go ahead and pick up a copy.
In addition to providing good information on many case studies of applied social media tools, the book contains the social technographics profile, which you could use to learn more about your customers online behaviors.
Are they inactive, spectators, joiners, collectors, critics, creators, or are they in a whole new category altogether? We'll discuss that in a moment. We talked about how to read the book and increase the success of your business as a result. Do a POST and figure out the:
- People - who are your customers and what are they doing online?
- Objectives - what are you trying to accomplish?
- Strategy - how are you going to do that?
- Technology - where are you going to do it?
In that order. For example, let's say your customers are between 35-44 years of age, live in the US, and are prevalently male.
This information answers the who question and should change the way you relate to customers in that specific demographic.
If you're trying to provide customer support online, you will know that the majority, spectators, will stand by and observe what critics and joiners do.
How and where will be very important to your objectives and will make a difference to results as long as you remember to check if your customers are on those networks. You want to make it easy for them to observe and potentially join.
[Data from Forrester Research Technographics® surveys, 2008. For further details on the Social Technographics profile, see groundswell.forrester.com]
Now we can also take it a step further by examining what your customers' social media engagement continuum looks like. Experience architect Leigh Duncan-Durst at LivePath cross referenced the famous Forrester ladder and came up with the chart below.
By her own definitions, clueless and questioning are inactives, scouting are joiners, actives, immersed and influentials map to collectors, critics and creators. It's a good idea to always integrate new ways of reaching customers and have a dialogue with them with old ones. Case in point are the inactives - how do you help them if you move all your support online?
You may also need to integrate off line or on phone activities with online for those who are scouting. While they may be experimenting with some social media tools, they have not made enough of a change in their communications habits for you to rely solely on the online media.
Here are a couple of ideas for the remaining three types:
- Active - because they are experimenting more with building their own networks online, they probably use LinkedIn to check out the profiles of your service reps. Please note that even if you have a company listing on Wikipedia or LinkedIn and other social networks, the first profiles that will get attention are those of your employees.
- Immersed - the informed customers who are online for professional reasons are much more comfortable experimenting with applications in the cloud, for example, and understand the upside of risk in sharing information on some networks. Because they are likely forming large networks of peers and contribute and collaborate a lot more, these customers may be your strongest advocates. As well, they could become your biggest critics when you fail to respond to their needs.
- Influentials - may very well develop a whole site or application to demonstrate a point they feel strongly about. They also understand how to integrate and use live applications to pool comments and conversations with other users into a powerful hub. Something businesses are not yet grasping. Robert Scoble provides an example of hat technology could do to serve customers better in a recent post where he explores the 2010 Web.
Indeed the way your customers are learning to leverage online media and tools to achieve their own objectives is morphing the very definition of integrated marketing and putting them - and not your message - at the very center of things. A conversation with actives, immersed and influentials can save you (and actually earn you) money in two ways:
- It allows you to address their issue/question directly with them and their network online. Some organizations will be a bit tentative with this part. I refer you to Frank Eliason bringing Comcast on Twitter for an example of how powerful that is.
- When you do that, you may earn social capital in the community. Which in turn can translate/transfer to your bottom line. A good resource to learn more about that is Tara Hunt's new book The Whuffie Factor.
Today at Fast Company Expert blog we discuss how to map to the social media engagement profile of your customers. Hopefully, you already know why it's important to find out.
Is it interesting and valuable to you to find out where you - or your company - fall on the continuum? If you ask why, I may counter you with why not?