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The 6 types of social media user (infographic)

Using segmentation to make your social media marketing relevant

We've mentioned the value of Forrester's technographics ladder before. It's a useful tool. Aimia, a Canadian company who specialise in loyalty management, have created a segmentation model that analyses the behavioral drivers of trust and control to identify six social media persona types – these are no shows, newcomers, onlookers, cliquers, mix-n-minglers and sparks. It's the behaviour angle which makes this worth a proper look.

“Today’s approach to social media measurement – racing to rack up the most ‘likes,’ retweets, followers and recommendations – is the wrong approach. Marketers must define success not by social media activity, but rather by customer value and engagement,” Doug Rozen, Aimia senior VP, lead author of the report

Naturally, Aimia argues that there's single social media channel can deliver a complete picture of customer behaviour, specific social media personas are identifiable which, if engaged directly, can reap benefits for brands. These are:

  • No Shows (41% of the US population, inevitably higher in the UK) – these are people least involved with social media, if at all; they also infrequently engage in online commerce.
  • Newcomers (15%) – passive users of a single social media network such as Facebook, primarily to enhance relationships that they have offline
  • Onlookers (16%) – are active only in the sense that watch others via social channels on a regular basis, but share almost no personal information
  • Cliquers (6%) – active users of one network; they tend to be influential among their small group of friends and family
  • Mix-n-Minglers (19%) – those who regularly share and interact with a diverse group of connections via social media
  • Sparks (3%) – most active and deeply engaged users of social media; will serve as enthusiastic online ambassadors for their favorite brands

“Marketers often struggle to understand the true motivations and purchase intent behind customers’ social media activity. Proper segmentation allows marketers to appropriately identify, understand and influence customers through social channels.” Doug Rozen, Aimia senior VP

Our observation

Based on Forrester's work already in this space, we'd suggest this information supports commonly understood ideas in the social space in regard to persona types being very important to any marketer, let alone a digital or social media focus. We think that overlaying what technology is used is useful too.

It's interesting to see that the top 3 personas, over 28% of the market who'd matter, are older than you might think. Equally the most ferocious users who are typically younger represent a mere 3% of the total audience. Note how propensity to buy online, not just engage, also scales the heavier the user is.

The key thing - and we cannot stress this enough - plan to market to real people where tools like this can help. It's not about the channel, tactic or social network in the first instance.

Share your thoughts

  • I am a big fan of using personas to define strategy. I think you do a great job of visualizing different types of social media users. I am a bit surprised to see “no show” numbers being so high

  • Arpita commented on June 15, 2012

    Hi Danyl Bosomworth,
    Thanks for sharing this great post!
    Social media is really useful to make your website get a high rank in the SERP.But proper targeting is required to optimize your site.Before posting any content in the page of social networking sites,SEOs must be clear about their target market and thus can result in a high PR of their sites.

    Thanks again

  • bollar commented on June 14, 2012

    I would suggest that you be cautious about attaching ages to each persona. Our research did show that social use was lowest among 55-65 year-olds, but engagement in > 65s was quite high. They might be directionally correct, but you’re missing a great opportunity if you rule out this way.

    • hi bollar – I think these models are about focussing on the “core”, any persona characters have to be seen for being nothing more than just “typical”. The value however is it forces key decisions and critical questions of social media / marketing with real people in mind. Too much marketing today is un-targeted and vague – I think studies like the above help us to further refine who is typically using what kind of channels – important to keep asking this, I feel?

  • Steph Parker at SocialMediaToday recently published a different classification that I quite like. Quite a different slant to this one
    It segments Facebook fans as:
    – Potential customers
    – Personal friends/employees
    – Sweepstakers
    – Happy campers
    – Fair-weather friends

    The link goes to the full article.

    • That’s a good call Marie – thanks. Like that two.

      Both approaches are actionable. Particularly the SMT one.

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