Creators vs Consumers

For years I have been saying that there are only two kinds of people in this world: Creators (people who make things) and Consumers (people who… well… consume things. Creators are active, Consumers are passive. It was a nice little theory, with only one nagging inconsistency: what about me? I like to do both. What camp do I fall into?

Enter Forrester’s new report entitled Social Technographics. Don’t let the title intimidate you: Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff have taken a friendly and measured approach to the debate by dividing online behaviour into six different categories of participation: Inactives (52%), Spectators (33%), Joiners (19%), Collectors (15%), Critics (19%), and Creators (13%). Each one of these categories describes a higher level of interaction, hence the ladder metaphor as seen in the image below.

Online Ladder of Participation

This has some interesting implications for advertising and marketing. Steve Rubel, from Micro Persuasion, has these thoughts:

For each program, assess where your audience sits on this continuum. Are they inactives, creators or somewhere in between? The key is to then devise the right kind of communication strategy depending on what you discover. Let’s put this into action.

For example, let’s say you have a start-up that has a new piece of blogging software that bloggers will love. Then you should execute a peer-to-peer program that primarily targets creators, collectors and critics while largely ignoring inactives.

“The value of Social Technographics,” blogs Charlene, “Comes when it’s used by companies to create their social strategies. For example, in the report we look at how Social Technographics profiles differ by primary life motivation, site usage, and even PC ownership. “


I will be thinking about these categories the next time I sit down to strategize the next online campaign. Here’s a recap of what I’ve learned from Forrester today:
There’s only SIX kinds of people in this world… And don’t ask the average American family to create content for you any time soon, unless they use an Apple computer.


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