Almost three years ago I wrote this post about small business starting their approach to social media by looking at their customers. As I re-read it, I realized that although some of the networks have changed (grown and shrunk), the advice is still valid. I said:
Blogs, podcasts, social networks, Twitter, Friendfeed and Facebook are all cool, but not necessarily the magic bullet for every company. Before you pick a platform and launch a strategy, think about your target customer, what kind of relationship you want to build with them, what type of relationship do they want to build with you and most important what technology platforms are they likely to use.
Some of the platforms have changed. FriendFeed has declined, and Twitter has grown, but the need to look at what type of relationship you want is still there. Whether you want to build relationships around the world, or right here in Indianapolis, social media is a power tool if used correctly.
The post continued with a look at Groundswell a book by Charlene Li and Josh Berhnoff which introduced the idea of technology profiles, dividing users into categories, such as Joiners, Creators and Critics. I wonder if they revised the study if they would see changes in the profiles. I am sure the types still exist, but my perception is people are much more willing to create and share content. Blogging is no longer reserved for a small, elite group, as the proliferation of WordPress web sites has significantly expanded the access to blogging software.
I am sure the authors struggled to find many case studies and examples on what types of strategies to apply to different products, services or target groups. I am sure that would be easier today. But the big take away for me, back then and now: you need to keep re-visting this because your target is moving. They may not be active on line today, but they may be tomorrow. Research helps you anticipate where they will go.