Your taxonomy or mine?

A simplified approach to segmentation.


Our industry applies many labels to people based on known usage and behavioral patterns with social media. There are great thought leaders and researchers in this space comparing historical data to emerging trends. However, we find ourselves swimming in a big bowl of alphabet soup these days, and names are beginning to lose their meaning and impact. 


Your taxonomy or mine



A few years ago we attempted a major undertaking to cut through the clutter and simplify segmentation as part of a Center of Excellence initiative for a major technology company.  The project included:


·      Deep analysis of the current approach to community member segmentation

·      Evaluation of membership segmentation methodologies in external communities

·      Examination of published research on the psycho social factors that motivate and drive individuals to affiliate with and become active within communities, social networks and brands

·      Review of more than 140 information sources including articles, e-books, videos, presentations and conducted one-on-one interviews


We found that 4 main segments bubbled up to top of the lengthy list: Creators, Critics, Connectors and Collectors, because their main activities and behaviors were consistent across the Engagement Continuum:

Your taxonomy or mine

Next, we developed scenarios to tell us how, where and when to engage these segments throughout the different stages of the product lifecycle.


For example…


Say you are in the pre-release phase of a new product. You will need Creators and Critics for user acceptance testing, prioritization of fixes and enhancements, feedback on use case scenarios and the creation of product reviews.  On the other hand, in pre-launch buzz mode, you would need to rely on Connectors to amplify awareness and spread positive word-of-mouth.


The same can be said for the community lifecycle.  You wouldn’t identify and recruit Collectors until there was enough rich content for them to consume and organize.  You need to start with Creators and Critics.  Sensing a pattern here?


The point is that you must identify and activate the appropriate segment based on what you want to achieve through social engagement.  But, keep things simple.  It may be that Joiners, Contributors and Spectators make sense and work for you.  Does anyone have a different approach they would like to share?

Jennifer Voisard
Jennifer Voisard

Senior Consultant

A social marketing specialist with expertise in advocate identification and engagement, social monitoring programs, content process, online communities and social performance metrics and analysis.

Experience across multiple industries including technology, professional services, manufacturing, consumer products, healthcare and entertainment.

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