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November 27, 2012

Building a successful strategy on the social web requires a careful examination of the many ways that people interact in this new space. And that includes getting a sense of people who fall outside the usual boundaries and seem to use the space as an arena for trouble or anger.

The different roles and personas that most users exhibit on the social web are detailed in Part 3 of Untangling the Social Web, the new in-depth study of social media from the Coca‑Cola Retailing Research Council of North America. Virtually everyone falls into one of four personas based on how they share and consume information. (The first five parts of the study can all be downloaded at www.ccrrc.org.)

The four groups are: bonders, sharers, professionals and creators and each brings different motivations and characteristics to the web. But there is no group for those who seem to enter the discussion with more nefarious goals, whether to hack or simply launch angry criticism.

The Integer Group, the Colorado-based consulting firm that authored Untangling the Social Web, says these rouge individuals do not fall into any specific group. The common thread with them is an action—hacking or venting—rather than a mindset, which defines the personas. The motivation for hacking or simply being negative might be driven by a number of reasons.  Some consider themselves helpful, while others freely admit to just causing trouble.

One interesting lesson for any business afraid of these angry posters: in many cases loyal customers and associates will quickly and forcefully rebut negative posts.  All the same, this is a group that every company needs to focus on if only to prevent problems.

Michael Sansolo

Research Director

Coca‑Cola Retailing Research Council of North America