Hey, Social Media, Where’s the Segmentation?

Recently both Twitter and Facebook suffered Denial of Service (DoS) attacks, shutting down both very popular sites. I use both sites periodically and them not being accessible didn’t really bother me, but the issue made me contemplate social media and its role in both marketing communications and as a communication channel as a whole.

Here’s what PC World wrote after the DoS attacks: “Twitter will need to try and find the root cause of the denial-of-service attack, or more importantly build a more robust infrastructure with controls in place to withstand future DoS attacks. Companies will have to both determine how to manage social networking for end-users, and how to effectively leverage social networking for business purposes. Users need to figure out what to do with themselves when Twitter is down. A cursory glance suggests that many users rediscovered Facebook to fill their Twitter withdrawal.”

Here are some interesting statistics courtesy of Erik Qualman, author of Socialnomics:

• Social Media has overtaken porn as the #1 activity on the Web
• Generation Y and Z consider e-mail passé…In 2009 Boston College stopped distributing e-mail addresses to incoming freshmen
• 24 of the 25 largest newspapers are experiencing record declines in circulation because we no longer search for the news, the news finds us.
• More than 1.5 million pieces of content (web links, news stories, blog posts, notes, photos, etc.) are shared on Facebook…daily.
• 78% of consumers trust peer recommendations
• The fastest growing segment on Facebook is 55-65 year-old females

Mr. Qualman also asserts that people would rather give up e-mail than their social network. Note: Twitter does not seem to be mentioned.

These stats are in line with a recent Morgan Stanley report on social media usage that was penned by a 15-year old intern there. That report also says that teenagers do not use Twitter. Log on to Twitter and this will be confirmed.

With social media here to stay, I put on my measurable marketing hat and began to think about segments and sub-segments and how they apply and are used in social media circles these days. I had a hard time finding segments within the sites so I did a little web research and here’s some of what I found:

Daniel Lyons in Forbes wrote this about Facebook: “It’s as if two very different tribes were trying to inhabit the same space. I sometimes get the creepy feeling that we oldsters are barging into some college party where we don’t belong and trying a little too hard to look like we’re having fun, like the sad middle-age guys in the movie Old School who attempt, pathetically, to recapture their college days.”

Blogger Gadi Shamia said this: Connecting all the dots I finally got it. It is all about segmentation, or lack of it… Facebook was created by college students for other college students, and only on September 2006 did it become open to all Internet users: kids, students, young adults and adults. This was a major move for the site but it did not change the way the site was designed, the type of services it offered and the metaphors it used (we adults don’t super poke each other…)

And for Twitter:

Blogger Tony Thomas came up with these Twitter groups:
1. The Replacements

Those twitterers who have replaced a more traditional form of communication called talking with 140 characters or less of every thought, comment or announcement that enters their mind. These twitterers tend to skew towards the @reply functionality.

2. The Giver’s

Those that are so fast to tweet a link to the latest piece of industry information published, that they can practically claim it as their own. Lots of tinyurl’s are seen in their tweets. Those that just miss being first to announce often use the RT function.

3. The Takers

Those that selfishly take more than they give from Twitter. These people (me included in this group!) like to follow the random thoughts of random people and send minimal & uninteresting tweets (usually after a few drinks!)

4. The Profilers

Twitter has become both a replacement and a nightmare for publicists amongst those that have a public profile. And we all now feel closer to the ones we look up to and know more about what’s going on in their heads. And if their tweets are missed online, you can usually catch them in the glossies or Sunday gossip sections.

5. The robots

The segment we all hate, but in the end they don’t care because they are machines! I also put the fakes in this segment as they tend to be disliked as well

6. The WTF’s

This segment skews to those who have no followers and only 1 update. They are not sure what the hell twitter is and why people think it’s great. And they are proud to publicly announce it.

If you have someone you are following who has Tweeted a lot, Twitter Analyzer tools can provide data centric insight into which segment of the Twitter audience their messaging most likely resonates.”

It seems like both Facebook and Twitter are turning into the new Mass Media, with Twitter doing a better job of segmenting.

Today, content must be relevant in order to be successful. Relevancy is achieved through great segmentation. Social media needs to do a better job of helping define segments. That’s a key reason why most social media marketing is so hard to quantify from an ROMI vantage point: It’s too broad and lacks focus.

Great segmentation leads to better marketing and that leads to a business model that makes a profit and therefore sustainable.

How many friends or followers one has is more about ego than about the real number of people who are interested in you, what you have to say or what you’re doing. LinkedIn, granted more of a true social media business application, does a much better job at segmenting.

Oh, remember MySpace? Yes, it’s still around. It was created for artistic types and, like Facebook is doing, grew out of its roots and lost relevancy.

The whole exercise really makes me wonder, overall, how effective social media is — and how big it will become. Yes, it’s growing, but…you fill in the rest.

Grant A. Johnson