1. Social Media

Forrester's POST Method in Review

Forrester Research VP & Principal Analyst Josh Bernoff shared a review copy of “Objectives: The Key to Creating a Social Strategy” that introduces its POST method, discussed on its Groundswell blog. The report, written by Bernoff in conjunction with Charlene Li, Cynthia Pflaum, and Scott Wright, is a great read for marketers developing their social media strategies (which is just about everyone these days) or the agencies helping them along.
The PDF Bernoff shared with me and other bloggers who inquired (and may have beaten me to posting about it) focuses on a case study with L.L. Bean, and in all of seven pages, there’s meaty analysis into Bean’s customers and objectives. The report’s greatest asset is also its Achilles Heel. What I fear from reading this is that marketers will be so overwhelmed by this report that they’ll feel the only way they can succeed with social media is by subscribing to Forrester and having them conduct a “social technographics profile” of their customers. Forrester of course would love that to be the case.
While I have no doubt marketers can benefit from Forrester’s services, there’s nothing wrong with marketers’ intuition either. For instance, it’s hardly surprising that the ‘granola’ audience of L.L. Bean is more active with social media than average. Does it really matter if they’re “Creators,” “Critics,” or “Collectors”? And let’s say the audience is, overall, a little less into participation than average. Does that mean the marketer shouldn’t cater to the segment of its audience that does want to be more involved? There are various paradigms that illustrate that say, for instance, 1% of consumers will create content, another 5-10% will engage with content in some way (rate it or post a comment, for instance), and the rest will freeload and benefit from the contributions of everyone else.
With this review, I almost forgot to say what POST is all about. Here’s how Bernoff defines it on the blog:

  • People: Assess your customers’ social activities
  • Objectives: Decide what you want to accomplish
  • Strategy: Plan for how relationships with customers will change
  • Technology: Decide which social technologies to use

You can also pre-order the book Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies by Li and Bernoff, due out in April.

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Comments to: Forrester's POST Method in Review
  • December 20, 2007

    Thanks for the review, David. A few others have written about it, but you took a lot closer look than the rest.
    Regarding the data, you said this:
    There are various paradigms that illustrate that say, for instance, 1% of consumers will create content, another 5-10% will engage with content in some way (rate it or post a comment, for instance), and the rest will freeload and benefit from the contributions of everyone else.
    The challenge is that this is not always true — it’s very different depending on your particular customers, and not always in ways that are predictable. (Would you have guessed that Rudy’s voters would be less socially active than Mitt’s, for example? Or that business travelers were more socially active than leisure travelers? Check out our blog to see some of the details.)
    It’s too bad we have to charge for data about people’s customers, but that data is expensive to collect. I’ll keep posting free snapshots from time to time. In the meantime, marketers who want real data about the social tendencies of their customer base can come to us, and those who want to try it on the cheap are welcome to follow our POST method, using their intuitions about the behavior of their People.
    Frankly, I’d be happy if people building social apps stopped leading with Technology and started leading with People and Objectives — that would result in smarter apps whether they hire us or not.

    Reply

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