SmoothSpan Blog

For Executives, Entrepreneurs, and other Digerati who need to know about SaaS and Web 2.0.

Reaching all the Web 2.0 Personality Types (Part 3 on Web 2.0 Personality Types)

Posted by Bob Warfield on September 14, 2007

I’ve been thinking more about Web 2.0 Personality Types as I read bloggers who are wondering whether it’s right for them to use Facebook, start a Corporate Blog, or do some other Web 2.0 thing.  If you subscribe to the Web 2.0 Personality Type theory, you need to cast a wide net lest you miss an entire audience with a particular Personality Type.  I’ve written about several recent examples where companies are casting broad nets across multiple Web 2.0 Personality Spaces:

To fully leverage Web 2.0 communication and collaboration you have to hit as much of the Web 2.0 pesonality Space as possible.  In this post I want to put a little more color into what each of the various personality styles is looking for:

Interrupted | Deferred:  Needs motion to attract their attention like Jurassic Park’s TRex |  Wants time to digest a relatively static scene

Fast changing information drives the interrupted audience.  These folks are extreme extroverts who have to be interacting with people all the time.  Who wouldn’t wnat the Interrupted/Extrovert audience on their side?  Give them capabilities like Twitter, things that change constantly on your web page, and information feeds that “push” rather than forcing these individuals to “pull” are important.  Make sure that your blogs and other content have lots of buttons to enable feeds to the Interrupted Viewer’s mind space.  With so much information coming at them, you need to be concerned that an Interrupted Viewer can lose interest in your offerings very easily if you don’t feed them a lot of change.  In terms of initiating direct contact, the Interrupted Viewer wants it now and they expect you to be receptive now as well.  Provide them avenues to inject their responses as immediately as possible so that InterruptedParticipator’s are not put off.  Interrupted Viewers are easy to catch once, but they are the hardest to keep loyal.

Examples for the Interrupted audience:  Twitter, Data Feeds, Blackberry, Phone Text Messages, Web Cams, Skype, Push a button and chat with or be called by a Sales or Support person.

The Deferred Viewer feels too much change equals too much distraction.  It forces an audience that may be introverted to play along too much rather than sitting back comfortably to watch.  It drives them away.  If you put gadgets on your page that change constantly, keep them relatively small and unobtrusive.  Make it easy to turn them off.  The Deferred Viewer wants to “pull” their information.  Perhaps it helps them to feel more in control, or at least to feel like they manage their time more effectively.  Deferred Viewers want to initiative contact on their own terms.  Make them do as little as possible on a single focus and let them choose what they want to do and when they want to do it.  These are the hardest Viewers to capture as a repeat audience, but once you do, they will be the most loyal.

Examples for the Deferred audience:  Search, Blogs, E-Mail, Forums, Wikis, Maps, Photo Galleries, and Videos.

Text | Video/Multimedia:  Prefers written words |  Loves videos and other rich media

Text Viewers are verbal thinkers.  Feed them crisp clear prose that is well written.  Keep the UI as simple as possible.  Prefer textual menus and labels on buttons.

Examples for the Text Audience:  Google UI.  Blogs.  E-Mail.  White Papers.

Multimedia Viewers are visual thinkers.  Feed them tons of images.  Communicate ideas visually.  Avoid giant pages of text unbroken by any imagery.  Consider video.  Rich user interfaces are welcome.  Icons are welcome.

Examples for the Rich Multimedia Audience:  Images.  Data Visualizers.  Mind Maps.  Video.  Rich UI.

Free Form | Structured:  Thrives on chaos | Prefers structure

The FreeFormer wants to view the trees without being burdened with the Forest.  Don’t force their thinking into a rut you have chosen.  Let them see what you’re offering from a holistic perspective.  FreeFormers are Intuitive thinkers.  Focus on things that feel good.

FreeForm Examples:  Keyword Search is completely free-form.  Don’t overly control how they express themselves:  MySpace is more FreeForm than Facebook.  Start from a conclusion and tell why it is good.

The Structured Thinker wants to understand how the trees fit together to make a forest.  The best thing you can give them is a new structure for how to fit the ideas you’re tossing them together.  Let them see what you are offering as components to be re-combined into structures you’ve provided as well as structures of their own choosing.  The Structured crowd are more likely to be Rational thinkers.  Focus on things that make sense and are logical.

Structured Examples:  Wikis, Timelines, Threads/Forums, and any other mechanism for imposing structure.  Prefer tables over more abstract diagrams.  Prefer outlines over boxes and arrows.  Start from component parts and assemble them into a conclusion.

Watcher | Participator/Shaper:  Likes to watch | Driven to participate

The Watcher wants to take input and new messages on their own time.  They may do this because they’re more introverted, or because they cannot afford to allow your messaging to derail more urgent priorities (i.e. they are very busy).  To win the Watcher over you must keep their interest.  Get your best ideas out in front of the Watcher.  If you surprise them with an idea they love and hadn’t heard elsewhere, you’ve won them over.

Watcher Examples:  Blogs, Newsfeeds, Social Bookmarking

The Participator/Shaper insists on adding their 2 cents.  They crave opportunities to collaborate with you and to influence your direction.  If they are extroverted, they do it for the contact.  If they are introverted, they do it because they’re captivated by your idea and want to participate in its energy.  To win the Participator over, you must show some willingness to let them participate in implementing or shaping your vision.  Give the Participator a role to play.  Don’t fill in all the blanks.  Ask for their help.

Participator Examples:  Wikis they can contribute to, Forums instead of Blogs, Blogs with lively commenting.  Kyte, because they can watch the video and then discuss it with others.  Crowdsourcing is ideal for Participators.

Putting it All Together

We’ve seen how to attract the attention of the various personality types.  Consider how these types interact in combinations as well:

– InterruptedRichMediaParticipators will want you to be able to stop everything and communicate with them in rich media.  Push a button and get a Skype connection to a live person at your end, for example.

– DeferredWrittenWatchers will likely want to restrict two way communication to e-mail or perhaps blog comments or forum threads.  They will often seem to be ignoring your messaging unless you can somehow make responding imperative without annoying them.  Anything more forward will seem too jarring to them.

It’s possible you can infer that most of the audience you are reaching fall into a particular type.  This is usually only a possibility if you’re targeting a fairly narrow niche.  Failing that, you need to decide whether to try to cover as much Style Space as possible, or to focus on being really really great on a particular set of styles that reach a large enough audience.  Sometimes its hard to crossover to a new Medium.  Stephen Spielberg makes great movies, but I’m not sure he can write a best-selling novel as well as John Grisham. 

Most successes will be born of starting with a focus and then broadening the footprint over time.

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3 Responses to “Reaching all the Web 2.0 Personality Types (Part 3 on Web 2.0 Personality Types)”

  1. […] There’s more to it than that, and I like this crazy site.  It’s another take on the Web 2.0 Personality Space idea I’ve been cogitating on for some time.  What’s different is the extreme visual […]

  2. […] Comments Imagini Stakes Out A… on Reaching all the Web 2.0 Perso…Who’s Afraid o… on What the CMO Wants from Web 2….What the CMO Wants f… on Who’s […]

  3. assetbar said

    Again, another series of stellar posts, smoothspan.

    It shocks me how few people are really thinking broadly about types of people vs. the more mundane “target users”. Anyone familiar with product feature discussions has seen the conversation digress to “I prefer A, and I’m more right/powerful/vocal than you on the B side”. It’s really so simple if you accept that there are multiple views.

    When I was in car development, we *had* to make difficult tradeoffs because customized mass production is only a theory wrt complex physical goods. But with web software/saas, only the lazy and foolish ignore the other points of view.

    subscribe!

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