How do YOU use Social Media?

About a month ago, we had a robust discussion on this blog about some possible adaptations to the Forrester Research “Social Technographics Ladder.” You can review that post “One Rung Up?” right here – which is going to provide the backdrop for this muse.

The more I thought about, the more I felt that there was an element missing – we don’t have just one type of social media, and our behaviors may be quite different in different platforms. So, let me propose this graphic for further discussion (explanations below):

social-media-usage-patternsCurrently, we might classify social media involvement into (roughly) three categories – Lifestream networks (where participants are putting brief thoughts, publishing photos, sharing links, commenting, etc.); Focused member networks (often professional or highly targeted); and Open networks on the web, where you can interact and participate without necessarily having to “join” a separate platform.

The Social Technographics ladder discusses a certain hierarchy of behaviors, but in fact, behaviors can differ, even by the same person, within different types of networks. Based on the interaction in the prior post, I’ve boiled down the behaviors into 3 main categories – Consume (look, read, digest, etc.); Contribute (comment, rate, publish, etc.); and Curate (organize communities and information). As you can readily see, what I might do in one type of community (say, lifestreaming, where I may actively publish) isn’t necessarily the same as in another (perhaps I don’t feel comfortable creating a blog or Twittering).

Just some further brainstorming. What do you think? Put your ideas in the Comments…

One Rung Up??

Ever since I first laid eyes on it, I liked the Forrester “Social Technographics Ladder”, which seeks to depict levels of involvement in social media by people according to usage patterns. The higher up the ladder, obviously, the greater the level of engagement.

However, the more I thought about it, the more I felt that it was one rung short of a full ladder. I believe there is a higher-level role, an influencer/organizer/builder, who not only does pretty much everything on all the other rungs, but performs some very significant leadership functions using social media. This is different from the “Collector”, who is operating more on a personal level, and not seeking to build higher-level structure.

Here’s the concept – I’ve simply taken the Forrester graphic and added a rung. What do you think? Valid? Helpful? Just plain wrong? Feel free to discuss in the comments (and see the Update below this graphic – this thing is evolving rapidly!)


(original graphic copyright Forrester Research, Inc.)

Update: based on the back-and forth in the commentary, I’ve thrown together a drawing (please excuse the awful graphics – there’s a reason I’m not a designer!) that reflects a more behavior-based approach to the above, a different spin on stratifying the on-line world, and a consideration of progression/”hierarchy” :

networkparticipationmapswIf you think of on-line web networks as Content (blogs, pics, etc.), Commentary (commenting, rating, tagging), and Community (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.), then you see that people can engage in one or multiple behaviors in these different strata. Most people start as Consumers, and the easiest point of entry as a Contributor is to join an established network. Not everyone will feel that they have something to contribute as a creator of content, but it can progress to that as comfort level and confidence increase. Those who have the capacity and drive to be Consolidators (think community builders, event organizers, authors, curators, app creators – people like Chris Brogan, Ann Handley, Shannon Whitley, Brian Solis, Liz Strauss, the Twitter team, etc.) are those who seek to pull together disparate people and resources and create a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.

3cpiessmThe only difficulty here is that a diagram like the one above, even if more accurate, doesn’t have the same cachet as a ladder analogy! So, let’s put away the ladder and think about…Pies. You’ve been invited to be part of a townwide pie baking/eating/judging festival. You can participate, at no charge, in any activities you’d like – you can just come and eat, or merely observe others; you can serve as a judge and rate pies; you can create your own pies and enter them; you can join the pie-baking club/network; or you can be part of the organizing committee. Any or all of the above. The deeper in you go, the more you learn, the better your recipes get, the more fellow pie-bakers you meet.

On-line, we’re all observing, partaking, creating, rating, joining up, and organizing. And every action and role is good. Especially when it involves banana or coconut cream pies. Just sayin’…

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