by: Christian Smagg

Blogs, podcasts, video-sharing sites, social networks ... You will find below great graphical representations of Forrester's Social Technographics® research results … a very informative set of charts as to the demographics of Internet users and how they spend their time online.

Almost every demographic group is engrossed in the Web, even if with different levels of participation depending on their profile. Whether they can be considered as creators, critics, collectors, joiners or just spectators, users are getting smarter about the Web 2.0 tools.

I have always been very surprised to discover how so many companies know so little about their customers, especially when it comes down to their use of social technologies and online behaviour.

Forrester categorises social computing behaviours into a ladder with six levels of participation (Social Technographics®). Companies pursuing social technologies should analyse their customers' Social Technographics first and then create a social strategy based on these profiles.

Many companies approach Web 2.0 as a list of technologies to be deployed as needed to achieve a marketing goal. But a more coherent approach is required. Social strategy indeed starts with an understanding of your target audience’s Social Technographics profile. It is then a matter of mapping out how users will participate and how relationships with your target audience will change over time in order to implement technologies accordingly. You will also need to make sure that your organisation is prepared for greater levels of participation and engagement.

My main recommendation to companies scrambling to become a part of these conversations: do not just try and get involved in every high-tech platform that comes across your in-box (being Second Life, or the many others). It's time to shift your focus and home in on your customers!

Additional insight on this topic, and great data to whet your appetite, is available in this slideshow by Charlene Li, Vice President and Principal Analyst, Forrester Research, Inc. as well as on Groundswell, Charlene and Josh Bernoff’s blog.

By the way … as a Gen-Xer, I'm apparently ahead of the curve across the board … And chances are you are probably too if you're reading this article ;-)

More on this topic and “Customer Managed Relationships” within the next couple of days.

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