MARK4474- Social Technographic Profiles

Brief overview as to how companies have to structure their content online

Managing your online content is critical nowadays. You cannot simply structure your content the way you would like it, but you need to understand who’s using your content (and your target market), and how these users will contribute. It’s about creating value more than it is selling your product/service. The focus of my most recent chapter of study was the “Social Technographics Ladder”, which  categorizes the different types of users online (Li & Bernoff, 2008).


(Source: Forrester Research, Inc.)

As seen above, the ladder breaks down the various types of users into 7 categories. Keep in mind, it is highly possible for you to be included in many of these categories at once. The first group includes the inactive people, who do not participate in any media related platforms. I think everyone would agree that that number will slowly decline over the next decade or so (Li & Bernoff, 2008).

The next group includes the spectators. If you are reading this blog right now, you are considered to be in this category. Maybe you took it one step further and decided to create a blog of your own. That would make you a joiner. Any time you sign up with a website like this, you are included in the same category (Li & Bernoff, 2008).

If you are reading my blog, you should notice RSS feeds at some point on the right hand side. I include RSS feeds from a few travel bloggers and industry information sites. Even if you sign up for them using your email, this would put you into the collectors group. At the same time, I occasionally comment on a fellow bloggers posts, and that would make me a critic. Any time we comment on someones work, review a product we’ve used, or contribute to forums, we are included in this grouping (Li & Bernoff, 2008).

The next step up is the conversationalists grouping. I personally post updates on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, so I would be included in this grouping. If you join Facebook (or another site), and you don’t do any personal updates, you would still be in the joiners category alone. The last group includes creators. If you blog or produce any original content, you would certainly be included in this group (Li & Bernoff, 2008).

By my own count, I would be part of every single category other than inactive, which kind of leads me to the Social Technographics Tool that I played around with this weekend. I’ll just include one image below to show you what it looks like.


This easy-to-use tool breaks down into 6 different categories for age, includes 14 countries, and can break down by gender as well. I didn’t want to focus on gender, so I paid more attention to the changes in stats after I switched the age groups. The most noticeable thing was that the youngest age group (as seen above) includes 6% inactives. If you switch the age category to 55+, the number of inactive people jumps up to 40%. Because there are so few people in younger generations that are inactive, I can see this trend carrying through until they are much older. Meaning, I think more and more people will be joining online content, while the online content gradually becomes more interactive.

How the hell does this apply to the travel industry? I would say the results would be a little different, as I continually see older generations contributing just as much as younger generations on travel forums. However, Groundswell brings up the most crucial point. And that is, if a travel company wants to attract and retain new users, they have to find more ways to include more of the groups specified in the ladder. If you have a company and you still don’t know what to focus on, a survey might be a great way to get feedback from users as to how to add value to your content. That applies across the board, even in our mini applications on our smartphones.

I would like to use Fodor’s Travel as an example of a company that tries to maximise content for many of these groups. Fodor’s started purely as a travel guide book around 1950, and they are still selling strong in stores. Today, they have their own site with a lot of content for its users. There are mini destination guides, news sections, an online store, as well as forums. Fodor’s also contributes their own content on various social media sites. By including forums on their sites they are allowing users to create original content. On top of that, they open it up for everyone to contribute their suggestions and experiences to other users planning their trips.

Point being, if you were to start your own travel related company/website, you would want to make your content as interactive as possible. By opening it up for users to contribute their own work, you are maximising the value your brand brings to these consumers.


Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2008). Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Boston, Mass.: Harvard Business Press.

What’s The Social Technographics Profile Of Your Customers? (n.d.). Retrieved from

Categories: MARK4474- Social Media

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