Social Media

Forrester Unveils New Segment of Social Technographics – The Conversationalists

January 21, 2010

Nearly three years ago, Forrester Research released a study of Social Media where they grouped Internet users into six segments of social media usage, dubbed Social Technographic Profiles. These six profiles – Creators, Critics, Collectors, Joiners, Spectators, and Inactives, became widely used in the industry to describe the behaviors of consumers in social media, and to help inform corporate social media strategies.

This week, Forrester announced a new segment to be added to the Social Technographics Profiles – the Conversationalists. Conversationalists are social media users who update their status on Twitter or a social networking site (e.g. Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) at least once a week. They are less involved than Creators, who write blogs, create content, or publish websites. But they are more expressive than Critics who simply post reviews, comment on others’ blogs, or contribute to forums.

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The newly updated Forrester Social Technographics Ladder (Note: Segments are not mutually exclusive, therefore the percentages do not add up to 100%).

There were two other important insights in the Social Technographics update from Forrester:

  • The new Conversationalists group is 56% female, exceeding the concentration of females in any of the other groups. This finding correlates with other studies that show more women are actively using Twitter than men. In fact, Quantcast estimates 53% of Twitter visitors are female.
  • Three years ago, Inactives (online consumers who did not participate in any social media activities) made up 52% of total internet users. Today, that number has shrunk to 17%, while all other segments of behavior have increased. From this, we can assume that social media usage is becoming ubiquitous.

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Comparison between Social Technographics Profiles in 2006 and 2009

What do these insights mean for marketers?

Forrester’s Social Technographics is just one of many tools to help marketers understand how consumers are behaving in the social media sphere. In developing social media strategy, it’s crucial to first examine and listen to the target audience before moving forward.

Knowing that Conversationalists have a higher composition of women than the other Technographic segments can help inform the strategies of the multitude of brands that target women. Campaigns surrounding Twitter updates and Facebook posts should be placed into consideration.

The addition of Conversationalists to Social Technographics, more than anything, is an indication of how social media behavior continues to change and showcases the growth of social as more people move from being Inactives into other parts of the ladder. In 2006, it wasn’t necessary to create a segment to describe people who simply post updates on their lives, especially in microblogging environments like Twitter. Now it has become a common activity where 1 in 3 online adults update their connections with bite-size pieces of information or content at least once a week. The lesson to be learned is to never rely heavily on a single platform or technology for social media, but to always be aware of the changing trends and behaviors of consumers.

If you’re interested in taking a look at the Social Technographics data of few different audience bases, try the Forrester Social Technographics tool here: (Note – the addition of Conversationalists has not been added to this free widget)

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-Christine Hsu, Social Marketing Strategist at 360i