To new label owners: A strategy that treats everyone alike will spell failure.

The subject of a book I’m reading called “Groundswell” (Li, Bernoff, 2011) provides answers to the question: How do people interact with our world through social technology? In the 3rd chapter, the authors present a concept developed by Forrester Research called “The Social Technographics Profile”, which is a way that we can understand our target market’s use of social media to determine how we in turn will participate with and engage them. Many will say, “My music is for everyone.” Forgive this moment of closed-mindedness, but frankly – that’s bullshit. While I believe in the concept of music as a universal language, today’s music business (as mentioned in previous posts) is not for everyone. When it comes to exposing your music to people and driving interest, I agree with Li and Bernoff’s statement: “developing a strategy that treats everyone alike will spell failure.” They break down the concept of social media users by illustrating it as a ladder containing groups which consumers can be categorized based on how they engage with social media, respectively; Inactives, Spectators, Joiners, Collelctors, Critics, Creators. Each “rung” has their own set of online behaviours (see right):

Social Technographics Ladder, from Forrester Research
Social Technographics Ladder, from Forrester Research

Do you want to run your own distribution label? Understanding if your target market is online should be part of your strategy. Understanding the technographics behind our target market can potentially help to develop a strategy to engage them. Looking at your target market’s Social Technographic Profile can help you “understand how social technologies are being adopted by any group of people.” (Li, Bernoff, 2011)

Let’s say I’m a label focused on making pop and dance music. Here’s an general example of my target market, generated by Forrester’s free, online tool:


The basic information supplied can give insights into the types of resources my label could invest in to drive more engagement. An index above 100 means there is higher participation in that group than the average. In this situation, my label may want to consider looking into creating a social network of some type, along with a type of blog or possibly video blog, for which my target market could learn more about upcoming releases, or gigs for my artists.

The catalog of available music expands exponentially through the vastness of the interweb. People talk about it, read about it, learn about it via music videos, or even how to make it via tutorial articles and videos. Understanding how your listeners are engaged and participating online can be a big step in truly making an impact. We know that people participate in social technologies because of an internal need to connect, so ask yourself – “what does my target market need from me to stay connected to my music?” Understanding technographics can tell us not only where to spend marketing dollars, but how easily it can be done without spending a dime.

Music may be for everyone, but not everyone loves the same things. What are you doing to engage your target market?


Li, C. & Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell, Expanded and Revised Edition: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies. Boston: Harvard Business Review, 2011. Print.

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