This one certainly made the rounds among observers of online activities, but I only just got the link through a comment by Martin Lessard, the insight-savvy YulBlogger and “Internet culture” describer.
Many companies approach social computing as a list of technologies to be deployed as needed – a blog here, a podcast there – to achieve a marketing goal. But a more coherent approach is to start with your target audience and determine what kind of relationship you want to build with them, based on what they are ready for.
Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? I get from it the same reaction as from effective ethnography. Not really a “Eureka!” moment. More of a “Doh!” moment, when you suddenly realise what was really happening around you.
This ethnography-like insight is even more obvious in the report itself (a review copy of which I got through email, thanks to Forrester’s excellent policy for content use). In that report, Li et al. define different user types in a manner not incompatible with our tendency to classify, in ethnography as in cultural life. Like ethnography, the report is showing the relationships between those different profiles (instead of stereotyping or “profiling”).
Sure, the proportion of creators is an important factor for Old School market research. But, what’s more important, is that different people adopt different behaviours in different contexts. Obvious, but important.
The report talks about age and gender differences, provides evidence for the changes in the Internet 6 ecology, and manages to treat Internet users as human beings. “All in fifteen pages or less!”
Again, this report isn’t groundbreaking. But it can be really useful as a representation of cultural patterns for technological adoption (MS Word document). (As it turns out, this issue came up in an exam I gave today… Wish I could share the textbook page on early-adopters in cultural change.)
There are other blog posts about this report, including some advice for marketers:
Companies seeking to engage customers with these new tools need to understand where their audiences are with this categorisation and then create bespoke programmes for them.