I read Josh Bernoff's article How to create a social application for life sciences without getting fired a while back and I found myself thinking about it again this weekend. I think the above chart is excellent and the perfect tool for illustrating how social media tools may or may not be appropriate, beneficial or wanted by different users.
You know that point in a project where you have the big list of ideas and have to start slimming them down. I think this chart is an excellent piece to start the meeting with, it kinda greases the mind into thinking in a critical way about real people, their needs and current habits.
Yes, those with Cancer have a lot to gain by connecting with other Cancer suffers but it's easy to see why they don't currently spend a lot of time online in these communities. Cancer treatments take a lot out of you and many people still have to continue their normal lives while under treatment. So, if we wanted to give them social tools, they would have to have high, immediate value and would need to be embedded into a process they already participate in or really really easy with a low barrier of entry.
Josh actually created this chart to help understand whether the risks involved with implementing social tools in the health care industry had strong enough value to the users to pursue. He says, "I decided to focus on who has the most to gain from social applications. Because if you don't have a lot to gain, the regulatory issues mean you may have a lot at risk, and it's not worth it"
He's right on and really asking the right questions that will ultimately protect his clients. There is also a much broader lesson in this statement that we can and should apply when working on our own projects. What risks will your brand or campaign be taking by implementing particular social tools? There may not be a large regulatory body like the FDA watching you but there is risk involved with implementing these tools.
Is this something your target users even want, will use or, find benefit in? If no, why would you expose the company to the obvious complications, risks, and at very least management responsibliites of emplimenting a social media tool? How will your users react to the new functionality? Will they backlash and decided to go somewhere else? Will they be irritated and loose trust in the brand? or will you fullfill all thier dreams? I will hope it's the later but I know doing research and analisys such as this will get you a lot closer than you might have been.