Sizing your Social Media Audience

vacuum-tubeForrester Research publishes and tracks a social engagement “Ladder of Participation.”  It’s a framework, based on consumer research, for categorizing users of Social Media by activity and age. This construct has some longevity and I would recommend you spend some time with it. But companies already have their own ways to segment customers or identify prospects. Introducing new thinking on this front will be confusing and getting traction will be slow. Marketing teams have their own sacred segments and chances are your E-Business team has created design Personas. How will the marketing teams make sense of all these segments? This is typical in large firms that have sophisticated marketing departments.

The bottom line is that all marketers need to have a clear picture in their minds of the customer. Not just a cold, calculates segment, but a real person. Here is one approach to solving that problem.

  • Field a comprehensive research study for both your customers and prospects to learn your brand drivers – what consumers deem as most important and what they are aware of
  • Create segments from that data as a singular exercise
  • Overlay your design Personas on that segmentation. If you’ve done a good job creating your Personas this will probably be a 75% match
  • Tweak the Persona descriptions to fill in the gaps and arrive at a one for one match. By the way if your Personas are over 3 years old, you have to start all over. Having Social Media and online brand attributes written into your Persona biographies is critical. Also things like what handset they use and how they use phone app technology, etc.
  • The research segments should be the base, but the Personas will bring it to life for the marketing teams. The E-Business and Research teams should collaborate closely on this
  • Overlay the Forrester participation ladder label to each of these segments
  • Run the numbers for all these overlays and you’ve got the population/opportunity for all your segments for customers on book
  • Define and set flags for each of these segments that you can use for your CRM, online, IVR, call center, e-mail, web targeting, etc. This will help with consistency
  • Inform your reporting and analysis teams of this shift
  • Your prospect population is also critical. Find a way to use this scheme to reach potential customers. Paid search targeted ad networks, etc.
  • Create a strategy/approach for how to engage each of these (include social tools) and you’re on your way
  • Before you finish with this “churn and burn” revisit your Social Media strategy. It’s about the objectives, not the technology.

Business Week has an innovative data section on their site. This one takes the Forrester ladder of social participation and makes it look like a Wired Magazine chart.

Would love to hear from anyone who is doing or has done this, or has a variation on the theme. Thanks Business Week magazine.

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