Last week I had the good fortune of seeing Jeremiah Owyang of Altimeter Group at the SugarCon social customer relationship management conference. Owyang delivered a presentation on how customer behavior is changing as a result of social media.

One of the concepts presented was "socialgraphics," which appears to be a further refinement of Altimeter founding partner Charlene Li’s work published in the book she co-authored with Josh Bernoff when she was still at Forrester.

Socialgraphics — an understanding of how people are using social technologies — may be poorly named given that there’s already something out there called the "social graph" and the two are only tangentially related. But socialgraphics has direct applicability to the things you’re making right now for your real estate customers. This includes blog posts, widgets, apps — whatever. I’ll go over some of it in this week’s column.

Measuring your customer, from demographics to socialgraphics

You’re probably already familiar with demographics: understanding that customers of differing ages may have differing needs when it comes to buying or selling real estate, for example.

You probably already gear some of your marketing activities accordingly. Perhaps you have some campaigns geared toward first-time buyers and sellers, and other campaigns geared towards empty-nesters or vacation-home buyers.

Widespread use of demographics, since it’s heavily used in traditional print/radio/TV as well as by the government, is a pretty widespread practice. Other ways of segmenting and understanding your customers include geographic profiles (local vs. relocation, for example), psychographic profiles (lifestyle marketing) and behavioral targeting.

Socialgraphic profiling is another of these ways of segmenting and understanding your customers.

Socialgraphics, despite the name, isn’t about the social graph. It’s about how your customers use social technologies. In this way, it’s a little bit like a subset of behavioral targeting that’s focused just on how people use social tech.

But it’s a little more as well; including getting an understanding of who your online audience relies on and who relies on them.

Making a socialgraphic profile

If you can gather enough observations about what your customers are doing online then you can develop a socialgraphic profile. Using a socialgraphic profile to help you decide what sorts of things to make should increase the likelihood that your customers will actually use and enjoy the things you make for them. …CONTINUED

Once you’ve got the socialgraphic profile you could assemble an "engagement pyramid" that gives you a sense of how your audience behaves online. The example that Owyang showed included the following behaviors:

  • Watching: people who consume, sort of like traditional media consumers.
  • Sharing: people who watch, then share with others.
  • Commenting: people who leave their opinions.
  • Producing: people who generate new content, like uploading things to YouTube.
  • Curating: people who gather, collect and edit or manage things.

Once you know what percentage of your customers do any of these activities, you’re ready to use socialgraphics to make things.

Using socialgraphics to make things

The next step is pretty straightforward. Look at what your customers are already doing online and then make tools and Web content that matches what they already do.

For example, if your audience doesn’t make a lot of content for the Web — if they aren’t producers on the engagement pyramid — then an upload site probably isn’t going to get much use by your audience.

You could go as deep or shallow as you like with this. Use it to determine what kinds of Web content you provide, whether you think turning comments on or off is a good idea, or whether you incorporate sharing features on your site.

You could use it to develop an entire product. If you’re really into it, maybe you could use it as a core method of your branding and business-model development.

By focusing on how your customers use tools you can focus on the side of the marketing equation over which you have the most control: the things you do and make.

Gahlord Dewald is the president and janitor of Thoughtfaucet, a strategic creative services company in Burlington, Vt. He’s a frequent speaker on applying analytics and data to creative marketing endeavors.


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