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Before brands and online publishers attempt to deploy social technologies, they must understand their target audience – specifically its social “technographic” make-up – and only then create a social-computing strategy, according to a just-released a Forrester Research report titled “Social Technographics: Mapping Participation in Activities Forms the Foundation of a Social Strategy.”

The term refers to the levels of audience participation in social computing rather than specific technology adoption, writes the report’s lead author, Charlene Li.

Forrester groups users into six participation categories, using a ladder metaphor, with “Inactives” at the bottom rung and “Creators” at the topmost rung.

Not surprisingly, the Inactives constitute the majority (52%) of US adult online consumers – followed by, in ascending hierarchical order, Spectators (33%), Joiners (19%), Collectors (15%), Critics (19%) and Creators (13%).

 forrester-technographics-ladder.gif

According to the Forrester report:  

  • Creators are those who have, within the previous month, posted to a blog, updated a web page or uploaded a video that they themselves may have created. They tend to be younger and evenly split between men and women.
  • Critics participate by commenting on blogs or posting ratings and reviews. They are on average several years older than Creators. Four of 10 are also Creators.
  • Collectors save URLs on a social-bookmarking service, use RSS feeds, or create metadata that they share with a community. They are the most male-dominated among the Social Technographics groups.
  • Joiners use a social-networking site and are the youngest of the Social Technographics groups. More than half also read blogs and nearly a third themselves publish blogs.
  • Spectators consist mostly of blog readers and also video viewers and podcast listeners, essentially constituting the audience for user-generated social content. They are slightly more likely to be women and have the lowest household income among Social Technographics groups.
  • Inactives are the remaining online adults and do not participate at all in social computing activities. Their average age is 50, and they are more likely to be women.

Social Technographics are valuable because they can be used by companies to create their social strategies, according to Li. The report considers, for example, how Social Technographics differ by primary motivation of online use, site usage, and PC ownership.

forrester-technographics-profiles.gif

The report also provides guidance on how companies can create strategies using Social Technographics, Li writes – for one, to help figure out which social strategies to deploy first, and how to help users ascend the ladder toward higher levels of engagement.

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