Conversation, conversation, conversation

And the topic of conversation today is…? ‘Conversation’ – with Forrester and Hubspot releasing new research.

Forrester have released an update to their Social Technographics Ladder (a way of understanding and categorising different social media behaviours) that includes a new category: ‘Conversationalists’.

They explain this introduction to their model as follows:

Conversationalists reflects two changes. First, it includes not just Twitter members, but also people who update social network status to converse (since this activity in Facebook is actually more prevalent than tweeting). And second, we include only people who update at least weekly, since anything less than this isn’t much of a conversation.

At the moment the data on Conversationalists is for the US only, but it will surely only be a matter of time before this data is available for more countries and is included in their Groundswell Tool.


Hubspot have also been busy, releasing their “State of the Twittersphere Report” (PDF), summarised here by TechCrunch.

Hubspot’s analysis is based on over 5 million user accounts that have been registered on their Twitter Grader tool and over 6 million tweets.

Highlights of the report include:

  • User growth has declined – from a high of 13% in March of 2009 to 3.5% in October 2009
  • The average user is following more people, followed by more people and has posted more updates – ie. the user base is maturing.
  • 40% of the top 20 Twitter locations in January 2010 are outside North America (with 65% of Twitter members stating their location in their profile)
  • London is the top self-reported Twitter location followed by Brazil with the US in third

The social media landscape: four useful diagrams

Some of these have been around for a while, but I thought it worth putting them all together in one blog post, as they all add insight into understanding, categorising and visualising the complexity that social media now is, and how to understand that in a business/communication context.

Fred Cavazza created the diagram below in 2008. It segments sites and services partly by function (sharing, discussion, etc) as well as by type (Virtual worlds), which may not be entirely consistent (it missed out comments for example) but it does at least give us a fairly broad view of the landscape. It also helps us to understand why some functions within each tool may not be as prominent as in others. For example whilst it is possible to network and connect with members using Delicious it’s main purpose is bookmarking and sharing those finds.

The Conversation Prism (below) by Brian Solis and Jesse Thomas of JESS3, now in it’s second iteration, takes this several steps further. It segments social media by type (wikis, blogs etc.) that currently exist and also their function and role within different forms of communication. It has been designed expressly for understanding social media within the business and brand context.

(Click on the image below to view the image full scale).

Conversation Prism
Conversation Prism

Although it’s worth noting that the downside to greater precision is that the over view that we could see in the first diagram is lost in amongst the masses of detail.

Forrester’s segmentation of social media behaviour by users, which it describes as Social Technographics, helps with another piece of the jigsaw. Forrester classifies people into how they use technologies and aims to quantify the size of each group through regular surveys. The classifications are:

  • Creators
  • Critics
  • Collectors
  • Joiners
  • Spectators
  • Inactives

This slide show explains more:

The basic results of their surveys are freely available via the Groundswell Profile Tool. For example, here are the results for 25-34 year old females in the UK:

Forrester Groundswell tool example

This last diagram by Gary Hayes and Laurel Papworth shows a possible way of structuring a ‘campaign’ or long term ways to communicate.

Note: To me the diagrams also begin to hint at a much older science, one which the Victorians excelled, that of identification and classification, but development of that idea is perhaps for another day.