Is the Hodis Facebook Segmentation Matrix Useful in Real Life?

Proper segmentation is the first step in building a scalable, efficient and effective marketing communications strategy.[1]

If facilitates effective targeting and saves money by allowing us to direct our marketing budgets more effectively by focusing only profitable or desirable segments – moving away from broad or mass approaches.

In their academic paper by Monica Hodis and Colleagues[2] propose a segmentation of Facebook users (four segment matrix of Facebook users.

These segments are summarised and described as the following (Hodis, 2015):

  • Attention seekers users with low level of consumption and high levels of creation on Facebook (Hodis, 2015.
  • Devotes – users with both high level of consumption and creation on Facebook
  • Entertainment Chasers – users with low levels of consumption and creation on Facebook – simply use Facebook as a means to avoid boredom
  • Connection seekers – high level of consumption and low level of creation

In the paper several examples are given on how certain segments can be used in marketing campaigns – but these are quite lightweight – and do not, in my opinion provide for a serious foundation for marketing planning.

For example – it is noted that if you could recruit an attention seeker to embrace your brand on line – there would be greater credibility in this form of branding that simply advertising. 

Additionally – the paper also promotes the use of games, quizzes and competitions to involve consumers of Facebook who provide less content on Facebook (being Entertainment chasers and connection seekers in their example).

And while I agree that marketers need to take a different approach to marketing to Facebook users than ads targeting users on their “interests” which users claim to be “creepy”, I’m not convinced that this matrix is the solution.

According to Kottler et al [3] and what we are taught in Marketing 101 there are several guidelines that should be followed when implementing a segmentation of a market.  These include:

  1. Segments should be mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive –- every person should only belong to only one segment targeted, and everyone should be in a segment
  2. Segments should be homogeneous- people in the segments should be alike, beit income, gender, opinions, life stage, lifestyle, etc. 
  3. Segments should be identifiable – you need to be able to identify the people in the segment so that you can find them to target them in your campaign

Of course, there is much more to Segmentation that these three points – but I do believe that the Facebook Segmentation Matrix fails on all three of these points.

On the first point, in reviewing the segments – I found it difficult to identify where I was in the matrix.  Sometimes I’m highly active on Facebook and upload a lot of media (photos, videos, posts), sometimes I don’t.  I almost always use Facebook to connect with friends and my family which is overseas.  So, does this make me an attention seeker or a connection seeker?  Or both?

It concerns me that movement between the segments can be so fluid.

On the second point, the groups in the four segments are anything be homogeneous other than their behaviour at one point in time.  With over 1 billion people on Facebook segmented into 4 groups – any segment is going to be a heterogenous. 

The model considers the Attention Seekers the “stars” of the segmentation – but this group is anything be homogeneous – think of high-volume media posters – these users vary by age, nationality, gender, interests. 

Apart from being a highly heterogeneous group – consideration must also be given to the subject matter and the quality of the material they are posting – consider the high number of cat videos posted every day – is this the “star” segment that you are looking for in your business?  (Actually, it might be if you are in the pet business – but you don’t need a segmentation model to find them – they seem to be everywhere!).

The use of high profile Facebook (and YouTube, and Instagram) posters with large followings have long ago been cherry picked by marketers to act as ambassadors or influencers for their brands.  These are valuable assets to markets.  But there are very few of them – and are individually matched to an industry (cosmetics, motor vehicles, etc) – and while the Segmentation Matrix no doubt includes many of these posters – it cannot be assumed the entire segment is valuable or relevant.

And the final point – the segment should be identifiable to be actionable.  How do you actually locate this segment on Facebook – if you want to target say Connection Seekers, how do you do this on Facebook?  How do you find them?  Is there an algorithm that can search for users who connect with friends but don’t contribute content to the sight?  How do you accurately find them when people are moving in and out of segments all the time based on what they did on Facebook that day or that week.  When the segments aren’t stable – it isn’t possible to allocate individuals to a segment.

I find that Facebook Segmentation Matrix an interesting exercise in understanding how users spend time on Facebook and what the motivations are in using the site.  However, I believe the segmentation tool too broad to be used as a useful marketing tool to better identify and target attractive segments.

What do you think?


[1] Monica Hodis et al (2015): interact with me on my terms: four segment Facebook engagement framework for marketers, Journal of Marketing Management.

[2] Monica Hodis et al (2015): interact with me on my terms: four segment Facebook engagement framework for marketers, Journal of Marketing Management

[3] Kotler, Philip & Keller, Kevin Lane (2017), Marketing Management Pearson Education International, 17th Edition

 

Published by cynthiaburgin

Cynthia Burgin a senior marketer with over 15 years experience in marketing and communicatons in Australia and Asia pacific markets. She has Masters of Business (Marketing) and am studying Digital Marketing and Marketing Analytics at RMIT to refresh my skills after an absence from the Industry.

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11 Comments

  1. Yeah I totally agree that the Facebook segmentation matrix isn’t correct for many reasons but like you said in each segment people should be homogeneous, however hundreds of millions of Facebook users allocated to four different users certainly wouldn’t work. I also struggle to characterise myself as one on the other, I guess I’m probably somewhere on the low end of creation spectrum however depends what social media platform I’m on. I think from a marketing perspective take the matrix with a grain of salt as they say, still a good matrix but not completely correct. Great post though, very insightful and taught me a lot.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Good further insight into the facebook segmentation matrix. But yes i have to agree with you on the tool being too broad to to be able to create specific marketing strategies. I remember seeing something in last weeks readings about facebook not being able to find a viable business model for marketing, perhaps thus matrix is the reason why as they aren’t targeting more specified segments??

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  3. Very insightful post about Facebook post! when I first encountered the four segment matrix of Facebook users and by looking at their description made me confused by which segment do I belong to. I totally agree with you that sometimes I am highly active on Facebook with some posts and sometimes I just use it to connect with my friends and family. I might overlap two segment and not sure which one do I belong, the idea is just too broad. Marketer should put their customers into segmentation which might be based on their demographic, psychographic, behavioural and adopt the best marketing strategies that best suit their segmented group of consumer.

    I also wrote a blog about the power of social media influencer last week, maybe you could check out mine whether you agree with it? https://thedigitalspace.home.blog/2019/03/18/the-power-of-social-media-influencer/

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    1. Wow – that’s an interesting question. I’m not sure that I could identify a model for monetising blogs such as this one. I do know that blogs that provide relevant and useful information do attract large readerships. And it’s the audience that comes first – and the monetisation will follow where the blog attracts large numbers or a specific target market.

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  4. Not sure about everyone fitting into four segments. Facebook usage is declining amongst my circle of friends. people are posting far less. Interesting read.

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    1. Thanks, I too have noticed that a large percentage of my friends and family have ‘quit’ facebook. I think the data breaches, the fake news posts, and the realisation that their posts are particularly private have contributed to this. Also – with 50% of Facebook users over the age of 40, it’s really as as cool as it once was.

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  5. Interesting read! I think the segmentation very fluid as there a lot of factors that go into where people fit, as well as this people change all the time in the way they post. Someone may find themselves very active on social media one year and then barely use it at all the next and this can also happen in shorter more consistent time periods.

    If you have any time please read and comment on any of my blog posts, would really appreciate it

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  6. I also find the tool very broad and i don’t think we can divide the all social media population in these 4 categories only. I think it also depends on the platforms, for example, I use Facebook very rarely, never posting, haven’t for a long time anyway and mainly use it to connect with my overseas friends. I also use Instagram but differently, i can be a devotee as an am a brand ambassador for a brand of swimming suits but i can be a connection seeker with my friends so yeah and it varies also.

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  7. I honestly wouldn’t call it broad, however I believe entertainment chasers and connection seekers could be combined together. Connection seekers are generally social, bubbly, fun people – if you’re social, you’re in for entertainment! You’re an outgoing character. I don’t think it’s too broad to be used as a marketing tool, I have dealt with Facebook advertising before and it is actually very easy to target niche markets/specific consumer targets. I believe social posts (terms used in your social post for a content/status/photo) are vital – the relevance of the word in the current society, how popular is the word and how often is it used by social media consumers. Yes people could be moving in and out of segments depending on their life experiences however you will always catch the next wave that comes through I strongly believe.

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