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The 6 types of social media user (infographic)

By Danyl Bosomworth 14 Jun, 2012

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.

By Danyl Bosomworth

Dan helped to co-found Smart Insights in 2010 and acted as Marketing Director until leaving in November 2014 to focus on his other role as Managing Director of First 10 Digital. His experience spans brand development and digital marketing, with roles both agency and client side for nearly 20 years. Creative, passionate and focussed, his goal is on commercial success whilst increasing brand equity through effective integration and remembering that marketing is about real people. Dan's interests and recent experience span digital strategy, social media, and eCRM. You can learn more about Dan's background here Linked In.

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