Some organisations start using social media tools without knowing who the audience is and what they are doing online. You might think “We need a Foursquare account ” when in fact none of your audience use or are actively holding conversations about you on these social platforms.

Railway Refreshment Room - Wynyard
photo credit: State Records NSW

In reality, people use a variety of social networks often moving from Facebook, to Twitter, to a community forum, to Flickr then back to their email.  There are different persona’s of social media users. Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff in Groundswell identified six main groups in social media based on their activity on a range of social networks. They can be classified as :-

  • Creators
  • Critics
  • Collectors
  • Joiners
  • Spectators
  • Inactives

The Social Technographics ladder : Groundswell

The social technographics ladder

A  better way to think about social media is to start with your target audience and define what kind of relationship you want to build with them. Forrester’s Social Technographics and Forrester’s social technology profile tool is very useful to segment social media users and help  find out about participation and where conversations are happening. Using the tool you can look at your audience demographics and find out what ‘type’ they are. For example women aged 18-24 (77%) are predominantly joiners on UK social media sites.

Social Media Demographics – who’s using which sites?

Flowtown has created a useful  infographic that breaks down user demographics for the leading social networks by age, gender, income, and education level. Use it to  find out which site has the greatest percentage of female users or those with the highest educational level.

Flowtown – Social Media Marketing Application

When you combine these two research tools you can identify the types of networks where your audience hangs out as well as defining the content that is relevant e.g  Blogs for critics, Facebook, Foursquare orMyspace for 18-24 year old ‘Joiners’. What tools do you use to research your audiences online?