The Social Technographics Score helps marketers create better social strategies

We firmly believe that the first step in building a successful social program is to understand your audience’s social behaviors and preferences.

Since 2007, Forrester’s Social Technographics® ladder has helped marketers understand how social their audiences are, and in which social behaviors those audiences engage. But social media adoption has matured, and today the vast majority of online users engage with social tools. For marketers, the question is no longer whether their customers use social media, but rather how best to use social media to interact with those customers.

So we decided it was time to develop a new framework to help marketers analyze people’s evolving social behaviors and benefit from this evolution. Today, Forrester is introducing a new model — called the Social Technographics Score — that:

  • Focuses on commercial social behaviors. Many surveys reveal the social behaviors in which audiences engage but make no distinction between peoples’ social interactions with friends and their social interactions with companies. In contrast, our new Social Technographics Score is based on how audiences interact with and talk about companies, brands, and products.
  • Helps marketers choose among social strategies. Most models for evaluating audiences’ social usage tell marketers about their customers’ behaviors but don’t tell marketers what to do in response to those behaviors. In contrast, our new Social Technographics Score measures where in the customer life cycle audiences are most likely to use social tools.
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Database of Affinity: The Race Is On

Earlier this year, we introduced the Database of Affinity: a catalogue of people's tastes and preferences, collected by observing their social behaviors, that could be the Holy Grail for more-accurate brand advertising. And since then two of the companies we featured in our research -- Facebook and Google -- have been working hard to realize this vision:

  • In June, Google introduced Affinity Segments -- a tool that allows marketers to target audiences based on the products and categories for which they've expressed preferences. We think Google has room to add more and broader affinity data to these segments, and to do richer analysis on that data. But Affinity Segments blends multiple signals into a single targeting tool -- which makes this an important step forward from the simplistic affinity targeting most social sites now offer.
  • More recently, Facebook built a team to analyze its affinity data. MIT Technology Review reports that Facebook has assigned eight people to its 'AI' team. Their goal? To address one of the key shortcomings we'd identified in Facebook's business: its inability to bring meaning to its data. It's always been clear that Facebook has one of the largest collections of affinity data online; we hope this move will help the company better leverage that data on behalf of marketers.
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One Week Left To Win A Forrester Groundswell Award

[UPDATE, Sepember 2013: Entries for the 2013 Forrester Groundswell Awards are now closed. More than 100 companies entered more than 130 social programs this year, and we're looking forward to reviewing them and recognizing the best at our 2013 eBusiness Forum on November 5.]

The entry deadline for the 2013 Forrester Groundswell Awards is just one week away - August 30, 2013. These awards recognize programs that showcase the effective use of social media to advance an organizational goal. We've got new categories this year - check out our video for details - and over the past week, my colleagues have given their advice on how to win an award for 'social reach' and for 'social depth.' Today, I want to give some tips on how to win an award in our 'social relationship' category.

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It's Time To End Social Exceptionalism

Today, social media is part of nearly every marketer's strategy: More than 90% of the marketers we survey are already using social tactics.

But the sobering reality is that nearly a decade into the era of social media, more social marketers are failing than succeeding. Why? Because of a problem we call “social exceptionalism.” Rather than regarding social media as just another marketing channel, marketers act as if social is somehow unique:

  • Some treat social media as an island. Too many marketers never connect social to the rest of their marketing programs. But social messages that don't match the rest of your marketing program are unlikely to contribute much value.
  • Others ask social to carry the weight of the world. No matter how social your audience, no one channel can shoulder the load of an entire marketing program on its own — as many marketers ask social to do. Successful marketing always relies on finding the right mix of platforms and tactics.
  • Most use unproven metrics to track performance. Marketers have moved past tracking only fans and followers — but few have gotten much further. Too many measure recently invented metrics like "engagement," and too few track the brand impact or conversion rate of social programs.
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Enter the 2013 Forrester Groundswell Awards!

[UPDATE, Sepember 2013: Entries for the 2013 Forrester Groundswell Awards are now closed. More than 100 companies entered more than 130 social programs this year, and we're looking forward to reviewing them and recognizing the best at our 2013 eBusiness Forum on November 5.]

The deadline for entering the 2013 Forrester Groundswell Awards is Friday, August 30 – so if you haven’t started planning your entry, now’s the time to start.

Not sure which category you should enter? Read up on our rules and FAQs, and then check out this video for even more details:

Make sure your company has a chance to be recognized by Forrester as a leader in social media – and make sure your entry is in by August 30!

Guest Post: Sarah Takvorian’s Favorite Forrester Groundswell Award Winner

[UPDATE, Sepember 2013: Entries for the 2013 Forrester Groundswell Awards are now closed. More than 100 companies entered more than 130 social programs this year, and we're looking forward to reviewing them and recognizing the best at our 2013 eBusiness Forum on November 5.]

We recently announced that we are accepting applications for the 2013 Forrester Groundswell Awards! This program recognizes companies that have best used social media to advance an organizational or business goal. As we gear up for this year’s awards, we can’t help but reminisce about those past winners that blew us away. Sarah Takvorian, the super Research Associate who helps out with our social marketing coverage, shares one of her favorites from the 2012 awards:

We received more than 100 award entries in 2012, but the B2C Talking category winner was my favorite.  Glidden’s “My Colortopia” social hub engaged the paint brand’s target audience and guided them toward the right colors and styles by providing expert advice and personalized inspiration.

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Now Accepting Entries: The 2013 Forrester Groundswell Awards

[UPDATE, Sepember 2013: Entries for the 2013 Forrester Groundswell Awards are now closed. More than 100 companies entered more than 130 social programs this year, and we're looking forward to reviewing them and recognizing the best at our 2013 eBusiness Forum on November 5.]

Every year since 2007, Forrester has recognized the very best social media programs from around the world — and I’m thrilled to announce we’re now accepting entries for the seventh annual Forrester Groundswell Awards.

The rules are simple: Entries should represent the effective use of social technologies to advance an organizational goal. The more data you can offer to prove this, the better your chances of winning. You can enter using our online form. If you win, you get a nice shiny trophy, a winner’s badge for your website, and lots of recognition from Forrester. And this year’s deadline is August 30, 2013.

There’s just one big change for 2013: We’re introducing new categories for the awards based on Forrester’s marketing RaDaR research. So this year, both our business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) awards will offer four categories:

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How will the Database of Affinity change marketing?

Last month I published new research on the Database of Affinity — a catalogue of people’s tastes and preferences collected by observing their social behaviors on sites like Facebook and Twitter — and how that database will change marketing. And I'm pleased to say I've gotten a lot of great feedback on that research. So I'm excited to be presenting the idea on stage at our Marketing Leadership Forum in London later this month.

What is the database of affinity?

I hope you'll be able to join us in London on May 21 and 22.

Why Google - Not Facebook - Will Build The Database Of Affinity

Recently we described an idea called the database of affinity: A catalogue of people’s tastes and preferences collected by observing their social behaviors on sites like Facebook and Twitter. Why are we so excited about this idea? Because if Facebook or Twitter or some other company can effectively harness the data from all the likes and shares and votes and reviews they record, they could bring untold rigor, discipline, and success to brand advertising.

But exploiting the database of affinity won’t be easy. Any company hoping to turn affinity data into something marketers can use will need three things:

  1. Lots of affinity data from lots of sources. The raw data required to build a functional database of affinity doesn’t live in just one place. Facebook controls the most "like" data, recording more than 80 billion per month at last check. But Twitter records more "talking" than anyone else (1.5 billion tweets per month); Amazon collects the most reviews (well over 6 million per month); and Google’s YouTube and Google Display Network have data on how a billion people prefer to spend their time.
  2. The ability to bring meaning to that data. It’s easy to draw simple conclusions from affinity data: If you ‘like’ snowboarding you might like to see an ad for energy drinks. But the real value in affinity data won’t be unlocked until we can find hidden combinations of affinity that work for marketing. That’ll require technologies and teams that can do some serious data analysis — as well as a real-time feedback loop to determine whether people really are interested in the ads targeted to them based on such complex assumptions.
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The Database of Affinity Can Bring Discipline To Brand Marketing

For years, brand marketers have guessed at people’s affinities from the barest of demographic, geographic, and contextual clues. We deduce that Midwestern men prefer pickup trucks and that people watching extreme sports like energy drinks, and then we spend billions advertising to these inferred affinities.

But today, we no longer have to guess. Every day huge numbers of people online tell us what they like. They do this by clicking a ‘like’ button, of course — but there are many other ways people express affinity: talking about things on Twitter and in blogs; reviewing things on Amazon and Yelp; spending time with content on YouTube (and telling us where they’re spending their offline time on Foursquare); and sharing things through both public and private social channels.

People’s rush to post their affinities online recalls another flood of data that began a decade ago: the explosion in online searches. John Battelle once described the data created by search as the “database of intentions,” which I’d define as “a catalogue of people’s needs and desires collected by observing their search behaviors.” In the same way, the result of all these online expressions of “liking” has created the “database of affinity,” which Forrester defines as:

A catalogue of people’s tastes and preferences collected by observing their social behaviors.  

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