Are Your Customers Ready for Social Media?

Launching the first social media campaign for your company can be intimidating. With so many ways to engage consumers online (blogs, podcasts, social networks, Twitter, etc.), the feeling of anxiety is inevitable. You know it’s important to get involved in social media, but where do you begin?

First, understand who is online and what they’re doing. Participation in social media can differ among men and women and every demographic you can think of. For example, teens and Gen Y are more open to seeking entertainment online through video-sharing websites such as YouTube than older generations and are more likely to download their favorite songs ((

With this information, how do you decide between launching a social network and adding a review system to your website? Which medium will your customers flock to?

To understand what your customers are ready for, I recommend using Forrester’s Social Technographics® Profile tool available here. Based on Forrester’s survey data, you can research how participation in the groundswell varies among different groups of consumers not only in North America but globally as well.

The next steps in planning your social media campaign are to define your objectives, create a strategy, and then identify the appropriate technology to launch your campaign. If this sounds familiar, that’s because it’s covered in Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff.

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This book is a definite must read before starting any social media campaign. In fact, if your CEO or VP of Marketing hasn’t read it yet, grab a copy for them.

Create a Forrester’s Social Technographics Profile Tool

To create a Social Technographics Profile ((

Data comes from the following surveys:

  • US: Forrester’s North American Media & Marketing Online Survey, Q2 2008, 5,002 respondents.
  • Canada: Forrester’s North American Technographics Benchmark Survey, Q1, 2008, 61,033 respondents.
  • Europe: Forrester’s European Technographics Benchmark Survey, Q2 2008, 25,443 respondents.
  • Asia Pacific: Forrester’s Asia Pacific Technographics Survey, Q1 2008, 7,636 respondents.)), first access the tool here. Then select the appropriate age range, country, and gender and a profile will be created. Unfortunately, the tool doesn’t allow you to export your graph. If you’d like more information, you can contact their sales team.

Social Media Strategy: Incorporating Forrester’s Social Technographics Profile

You’ve recently launched a social media campaign that asks consumers to submit a video of why they would love to win a $5,000 shopping spree at your store. While the campaign is open to participants ages 18 and older, you’re curious as to why majority of the videos submitted are created by women ages 18 – 24 versus your actual target audience of women ages 35 – 44.

Using Forrester’s Social Technographics Profile we can compare how each demographic participates in the groundswell ((Data from Forrester Research Technographics® surveys, 2008.)) [Technically, you should have created your target audience profile before launching your campaign to decide which type of social media campaign you should use but just in case you haven’t, you can still leverage the tool.]

Fig. 1.1 Females Ages 18 – 24 in the US.


Fig. 1.2 Females Ages 35– 44 in the US.


Based on the profiles above, we see that females ages 18 – 24 are more likely to be Creators online versus their counterparts. So while the majority of the Creators in your social media campaign may be from a different demographic, your target audience can still participate in the campaign as Critics and Spectators. It’ll be a good idea to analyze the reviews and ratings in the campaign as this is where your target is most likely to participate.

So before you launch your next social media campaign, be sure to research what your customers are ready for. I hope you found this information useful when planning your next social media campaign. If you have other steps in your planning process, please feel free to share.

[Image: Who Participates and What People Are Doing Online]

[Slideshare: Social Technographics Explained]

About the Author


  • Susan March 7, 2009 at 3:10 pm

    This post is amazingly useful. I have never heard of Forrester’s tool, I can’t wait to try that out and use it for my clients.

    • Stephanie Gulley March 7, 2009 at 3:29 pm

      Thanks Susan! Forrester’s tool is easy to use and it provides a lot of insight on how groups are engaging online. We used the tool at my last company when working with clients. Some activities such as reviews are fair game across all demographics but those that require a lot of work (i.e. creating a video, etc.) can be a barrier to older demographics.

  • eBusiness Card March 8, 2009 at 6:49 pm

    Hey Stephanie,
    Another great post however, it can give one either the sense of being overwhelmed or excitement. Overwhelmed of how much ‘should’ be done to successfully market your company or Excited about just how many ways there are to market. The important thing is like you said above, determine your plan and go after it.

    eBusiness Card

    • Stephanie Gulley March 8, 2009 at 7:16 pm

      Good point! The thought of investing in a social media campaign can conjure up a lot of mixed feelings and hopefully now companies can plan accordingly.

      Later this week I’ll be talking about five types of social media campaigns (contests) companies can use to engage their customers.

  • Daniel Hoang March 8, 2009 at 7:13 pm

    Stephanie, great piece. This is great information on how to determine your target audience. I am of the believe that you shouldn’t initiate a social media campaign just for the sake of having that presence. A lot of planning should go into developing a strategy and implementation plan, including research like you indicated.

    • Stephanie Gulley March 8, 2009 at 7:26 pm

      Thanks Daniel! Your article on the importance of a Social Media Strategic Plan is just as helpful as well. It was an excellent follow up to the Social Media Policies and Procedures post.

  • Bruce Elkin March 14, 2009 at 9:15 am

    Thanks Stephanie,
    I found this post very interestesting, engaging, and helpful. I’m preparing to launch an ebook called Staying Up In Down Times, and following your suggestions will help me a lot. Much appreciated.


    Thanks so much.

  • Krystal Bernier March 3, 2014 at 12:43 pm

    Very useful post, well done. I’m excited to read the groundswell book, I’m heading to the library now!

    • Stephanie Garcia March 3, 2014 at 6:48 pm

      Groundswell is one of my favorite social media books and one that I recommend everyone on my team read. I just finished reading Jonah Berger’s new book, “Contagious” and that is a book you definitely want to read on how to make your content go viral.

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