Forrester Research made a big splash in the pool yesterday with the announcement of an addition to the Social Technographics ladder, their representation of what online activities people are engaged in. Between “Creators” – those who post long-form original material, be it text, audio or video – and “Critics” – people who rate existing material or make slight commentary to it – has now been wedged a category called “Conversationalists.”
This new category is meant to include people who are making updates to status networks. Specifically called out is Twitter and wanting to find a place for that network in particular is a stated reason Forrester’s Josh Bernoff gives for the addition to the ladder.
What I think they might have been going for was a clarification of how many people are curating content on status networks. By that I mean people who are not just there and updating their status but those who are linking to stories/posts and consistently retweeting and responding to others. Because that’s an activity that’s not really defined by “Joiners,” which encompasses those who maintain a social network profile, or “Spectators,” which includes those who are simply reading tweets.
Moving past issues of definitions and such there’s a lot of good that can come from a marketing strategy built around these Conversationalists. By that I mean that a strategy of content curation can be a good “shallow end” to social media, one that allows program participants to begin to build up a following through re-tweeting, linking and other activities prior to beginning to produce original content themselves. It requires less time commitment than writing long-form content but still gets people active and can be a good way to develop a network of people you’re talking to in the community you’re trying to reach.
All that is a long way of saying that Conversationalists are, in their own way, marking their own path in the same way that Creators and others on that ladder are, whether they’re doing so on a personal level or as part of a larger marketing program.