Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Whole Technology Thing...

As Jeremiah Ohwang said a couple of days ago, "you can't base a [social media] strategy around technology". Why? They're changing almost every minute, and I'll be darned if I can keep up here in Japan let alone globally. Yet people seem mesmerized by the glittering array of technology and services. And sure, there is money to be made in delivering technology to hungry users but success rates are really challenging.

Another thing people seem to get hung up on is devices, especially here in Japan. "Should this be a web thing, or a mobile site?" seems to be the first question people ask. And there is a stack of different opinions around - most of which don't matter a lot unless your have some fairly tight age demographics requirements ... say teenagers 14 - 19. The real answer is that you have to do both: maybe not exactly at the same time, but sooner or later you're going to realize that device usage is increasing a TPO (Time, Place, Opportunity) phenomonen rather than a mutually exclusive choice by users.

Here's the deal - devices are converging from a capability perspective. And if you listen to Ted Matsumoto from Softbank, you'll understand that the mobile telephone provides ubiquitious access for a commuting population. Of course, given the long commute times here that means a lot of use - but at the same time, people increasingly switch on PCs when they get home and most households have broadband connections. OK, rant over!

The right way to approach social media is to understand your audience. Sound familiar? Marketers have been trying to do this for years - starting with demographics which help us understand who people are (and sometimes what they do). Psychographics give us insight into why people do things, and technographics (see Forrester for more information) are the mechanism that lets us see how they do things in the online environment. I find the creator, critic, collector, joiner, spectator, and inactive profiling strangely intuitive and familar. Which role do I adopt in which environments? How does my behavior morph across devices? Interesting questions which we'll talk about another day.

Sufficient for now is to say that all three types of data are vital to building a picture of who your audience is and what they're likely to want. If you understand that piece, then we're well on the way to building you a social media strategy. Next time, we'll figure out what you want to achieve.

Thought for the Day: Don't start thinking about your Social Media strategies from the technology perspective. Start by thinking about who you want to talk to.

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