A few weeks ago Forrester’s Charlene Li put out a report on the profile of online users in the United States. The Report had enlightening information on the different preferences and activity levels of online participants – ranging from a minority of creators and critics to spectators and inactives (who comprise a narrow majority). Though the data is interesting on its own merit, the bigger lesson in the report is the advice to carefully analyze your customers’ online habits in order to tailor your digital menu, rather than just jumping in with an ad-hoc selection of trendy applications or sites. Sounds logical, but in the rush to avoid getting left behind this is wisdom I fear too many organizations are ignoring. Of course, this due diligence also applies to audiences beyond customers – such as employees. Organizations seeking to reach out to any specific audience or community using online tools needs to define the profile and usage preferences of these groups – as best they can – confirm the purpose for the outreach (to listen? to collaborate? to solve problems? to market?) and then design their outreach strategy accordingly. Companies who do this should be able to answer the all-too-common question asked about digital media at conferences everywhere – should our CEO write a blog? If you do your homework, you can answer that better than anyone.

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