Social Technographics Profile: or a fancy way to group

If the world isn’t full of big labels for simple things then my name isn’t Heather. Social technographics profiling (STP) is a “way to group people based on groundswell activities” (Bernoff & Charlene, 2011).  For us who like to keep things simple, it’s putting the same things together.  You know, what you did in kindergarten when you put all the round things in one bucket, and then maybe divided them up again into colours.  There are over twenty groundswell activities; from reading blogs, commenting on blogs, making a blog, to using RSS or twitter, or even contributing or editing a wiki (Bernoff & Charlene, 2011).  Depending on what groundswell activities you partake in categorizes you into one of the seven technographic ladder rungs (Bernoff & Charlene, 2011).  Using the STP you can understand how your target market uses social media and build a social strategy that aligns with how your customers want to receive information.  In a nutshell STP helps you know your customers/target market better so you can appeal to them with a more personalized approach.

A recent Facebook post about Balzac Billy by my company drew some attention. Billy predicted another 6 weeks of winter and with that, a clever social media ploy to try and get more of our customers to sign up for eBill was born.  We posted a picture of a wolf and a caption stating the wolf ate the groundhog.  We had a tag line that promoted eBill as a way to keep warm during those 6 more weeks of winter.  Our target markets are mainly home and business owners or those renters that are responsible for their utility bills.  We received a lot of feedback over the last few years about our lack of eBill and so off we went and implemented it.  We are over 2 months in and have almost 4,000 customers signed up, about 6% of our available market.  Our Facebook page as 142 likes and that mentioned post had 9 likes.  Out of a potential 80,000+ market base it seems that our social media isn’t hitting the mark.  Based on the Forrester model above, Canada has a lot of spectators and joiners at 64% and 57% respectively.  The next largest is the critics at 29%.

I feel that embracing the principles of STP and taking the time to really understand what ways your target market is using social media is smart business. If you have a large amount of spectators (those who consume what the rest produce), you need to have rich content on your social media platforms to keep them engaged.  If I had to speculate, I would guess we have a lot of critics, people who react to online content.  Most of the communication on our social media sites is one way, if we could create ways to start a conversation we could engage more conversationalists and provide more back and forth content for the critics to voice their opinion and for the spectators to digest. Once again the resounding message I get from groundswell is to participate, but put some thought into it.

Works Cited

Bernoff, J., & Charlene, L. (2011). groundswell. Boston: Harvard Business Review.


Challenges and Opportunities: my perspective on social media

blog-postThe internet’s original purpose was to provide “a platform to facilitate information exchange between users” (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010).  It is interesting that the internet, with the influence of social media, has now come full circle. It is rare that the intended use of a product or service remains after so many years.  I was surprised that my current employer is does not have a strong social media presence.  The utility industry is wrought with confusion and misinformation.  A general lack of understanding on how a utility bill is calculated and what the charges are actually for as well as what deregulated actually means is something I hear about daily.  Using social media to educate the consumer would seem like an ideal approach.

Careful consideration should be made when selecting which type(s) of social media platforms your company should use. You cannot simply create a site, blog or profile and expect to get your message across.  The first step is to listen to your customers so you can engage them in the conversations they want to have (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010).  When using social media you need to ensure you are being honest, humble, interesting and surprisingly unprofessional (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010).  Most business would struggle with taking an unprofessional approach to their social media strategy.  In the utility industry there are many rules and regulations that need to be followed and restrictions of what type of information you must provide.  The use of social media to provide emergency information has been proven in the Calgary floods.  This is something that can help spread important information and ultimately save lives.

The main conclusion I can draw about the challenges and opportunities of social media is this: be involved! Information about your company will be there regardless of your participation.  You need to ensure that you are maintaining open channels of communication and at the minimum providing your side of the story.

reference material

Kaplan, A. M., & Haenlein, M. (2010). Users of the world, unite! The challenges and opportunities of Social Media. Indiana: Kelley School of Business.

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