To find out where your customers are spending most of their time online, you need to begin by understanding them better. Depending upon their socio-techno graphics (which means how your customers engage on the social platforms), they might be spending a lot of time on the major social platforms or hardly any time.
- The first step in understanding them is to determine their participation levels in the social Web. The freely available Forrester Social Techno graphics Tool allows you to profile your customers’ social computing behaviour. All you have to do is select the age range, country, and gender of the people you want to research. The tool then returns an analysis of your customers, dividing them up into creators, critics, collectors, joiners, spectators, and inactive. The tool currently includes only 11 countries, but that number is sure to increase over time. It is a useful starting point for understanding your customers. You can find the tool at: forrester.com/Groundswell/profile_tool.html
- Another great tool is Quantcast and it is a useful tool to understand the audience profile of someone using a social platform. Just type the Web site address of the social platform, and the tool returns demographics information for that Web site. In some cases, it may even go deeper and include user segmentation responses as well.
- The third step is to actually talk to your customers. Conduct social influence research to discover how they use the Web, whether they socialize online, where that takes place, and how their friends and networks influence them. Even a small sample of users can provide a lot of valuable information about their online behaviours and the social platforms that they’re engaging on.
- And then of course, you can also research what consumers are saying online about the product, company, or brand. Don’t ignore having a look into these conversations, as sometimes it’s more insightful than any other form of research.
- Finally social behaviour online is changing at a rapidly, so you should consider organising an ongoing social research program. The ways your customers use the social Web probably change every three to six months. You want to be ahead of those changes, so ongoing research is important.