#Socialgraphics the new demographics?

I happened to listen in to a webinar last week by Jeremiah Owyang and Charlene Li from the Altimeter Group about “Understanding Your Customer’s Social Behavior” that highlighted emerging behavior characteristics that we are discovering in the social networking world.  The  days of targeting by geography, gender, age are taking a backseat now that virtually every category and age group of consumers/buyers are participating in social networks.  Intricate relationships are being built online everyday, and the “carpet bombing” approach of market targeting is old news.  I wanted to share some of the highlights that help draw the difference between socialgraphics and demographics:

First one that clicked for me was this:

Socialgraphics key questions

Source:  Altimeter Group

These are different questions than the normal approach for defining a target market. Social networking blurs the traditional lines that we (marketer’s) are comfortable with, but I do believe there’s a goldmine here if we can get this right.

Here we are trying to figure out the line of influence among our buyers, and how decisions get made in a social world.   It goes beyond connecting traditional dots.  The first question is one we hear alot:  Where are our customers online?  Do you know? Are you putting the right listening tools in place to find them?   If you don’t know, then it’s time to start thinking about how to find out.  As Jeremiah and Charlene said, “go whereever they are.”

While I am not reviewing each question,  I do want to highlight another one that further illustrates the difference in approach:

Q3 What social information does your market rely upon?

Do you know what type of information is being shared by your audience? Are they talking about products, themes/topics regarding work, personal, what links do they share and what are they?  The old approach was much less insightful or personal, it was more about where masses of audiences were and to put together programming that best matched the reach for that audience.  And, the approach was for us vendors to tell our audience something, not necessarily  care about what article they read in a magazine, but just that have been noted as a READER the magazine.  There’s a fine line there.  While it may seem like more digging around that is time consuming, it is really important to get your arms around how your social networks  are evolving.  They are like living organisms, and if you try to disrupt their sensitive nature by barging in and making assumptions about what information they rely upon, you’ll find yourself on the outside.  Watch first, learn what they are doing, how they are sharing, and what they are sharing.  It all matters.

Climbing the social behavior ladder

Classifying social behaviors

Classifying social behaviors

Source: Altimeter Group

Building off the 90-9-1 Principle by Jay McKee where in a given social network 1% are creators, 9% are editors and 90% are audience, Altimeter wanted to update the framework where engagement is the key element that drives each one of these social behaviors outlined above.

  • Watching – is the majority of people participating in a social network – the 90% as mentioned above..  They watch what other people say, watch videos, download podcasts, and they want to keep tabs on what their network is up to.  Engaging this audience requires to first understand what content they are consuming, find a way to develop relevant content so that they are more likely to consume what you are offering.  Here you are building social capital, even though it can feel like nothing is happening.
  • Sharing:  These people are updating their status’ in applications like Twitter, forwarding photos, videos, articles to friends. They get satisfaction sharing information with their friends and colleagues.
    Engaging this audience requires making your information “sharable”.  Do you have tools like “ShareThis” or “AddThis” built into your web site, blog for your content and events? How easy are you making it to share information with others?  Here you can start to actually see progress, and measure engagement activity.
  • Commenting: These people are the ones who actively participate and respond to others, it could be commenting on a blog post, responding to an article posted on a web site, writing reviews or rating products.  They may not do this activity every day, but do make themselves known.  Engaging this audience requires providing mechanisms to encourage commenting behavior.  Add places for comments on your product catalog, web site and blog.  Altimeter suggests every web page have commenting features.  In some cases it may mean looking at social network platforms like Awareness, Mzinga, or Lithium because the complexity of interaction may not be readily available in your current web site host or design team.  I still see some blogs that require a special sign-in to make comments- eliminate this and make the commenting process as easy and accessible as possible.
  • Producing:  Continuing up the pyramid, people who fall into this category create and publish their own content, i.e. articles, blogs, podcasts.  They desire to express their identity, creativity, and want to be heard or recognized.  Engaging this group requires a different approach than the others. Here we want to appeal to their desire to be recognized and known.  Provide opportunities to recognize people in your network who are doing this, allow these people to become “a platform for the voice of your customers”.  Organize sponsored discussions, tap these people to lead/participate/promote with you, get them involved when and where possible.
  • Curating:  These people are heavily involved in online communities, are the first to set up Facebook Fan Pages or a Wikipedia page, post to discussion boards, and do this daily.  It’s a natural extension of how they work, they have the desire to give back in knowledge or service and also want to be recognized like the producers above.  In the webinar, Jeremiah and Charlene described how Coca-Cola’s Facebook Fan page was started up by a couple of fans.  It became so popular that Coke invited them to stay on to manage the page full time.  While many us do not work for Coca-Cola, we probably can think of one or two people who fall into this category.  They are easy to find, they are continuously out there sharing, commenting, and producing.  Engaging curators is recognize their efforts and rely on them as trusted advisors and even as “non-paid” partners.  They are evangelists at heart, work with their passion, give them support and kudos, and you will be rewarded by gaining social credibility instantly.

All in all, it was helpful webinar that highlighted the changes that I’ve been feeling as we are putting together our 2010 programs for our clients.  Driving web site visits is no way to measure marketing program success, there are many more layers to it now.  While demographics will not completely go away, we are smart to embrace new trends that will affect our marketing programs, as well as have a new #socialgraphic framework to relate how to support, promote and engage our audiences who are swimming around social networks.

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  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Michael Newhouse, Shari Worthington and Juliann Grant, Telesian Technology. Telesian Technology said: RT @julianng #Socialgraphics the new demographics? A summary of #socialgraphics webinar last week: http://bit.ly/5zYWMk [...]

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