[Posted by Steven Noble]

When I was a marketer, I relentlessly hunted for local data to test my observations and strategies. Everything I could find about Australian conditions made it into my Delicious page, which I regularly mined for proposals and plans.

The process had value — or I wouldn’t have done it. But the result was disjointed — a blogging factoid here, some MySpace data there. It left my hungry for a comprehensive analysis of how Australians use social technologies, and how marketers should respond.

With Australian Adult Social Technographics Revealed, I hope this is what I’ve provided.

The foundation of this report is Forrester’s Consumer Technographics dataset — a collection of European, North American and Asia Pacific consumer surveys covering everything from income to attitudes to use of social technologies.

The structure of the report derives from the POST (People-Objectives-Structure-Technologies) planning method that Josh Bernoff and Charlene Li advocated in Groundswell, and which my fellow analysts use in all our research about social technologies. POST is the glue that helps marketers to base their strategies on clear business objectives, and those objectives on customer insights. Too often, marketers start by asking questions about technology: Should we have a blog? Should we be in Facebook? POST makes it clear these questions should come last. Insights come first, including the insights I hope to provide through this report.

Recently I was asked what marketers would find surprising in the report. Well, the answer is simple: it depends on their assumptions.

If they assume that social technologies are uncommon in Australia, they’ll be surprised to find they’re now mainstream. In fact, only 24% of online adults in Australia do not regularly use social technologies in some way.

If they assume that Australia follows the US experience, they’ll be surprised to find online adults in Australia are more likely to be content creators than their US counterparts. Our path is neither ahead nor behind the US experience; it’s just different.

If they assume that women are slightly more likely to use social technologies than men — and I’ve had some marketers tell me this — they’ll be surprised to see the opposite is the case, though when it comes to joining social networks, the difference is negligible.

And as for me? Well, I was expecting use of social technologies to drop off with age. And it does drop off with age, but not uniformly. Some social activities — such as creating content or joining social networks — fall away dramatically. However, others are common in all age groups. In particular, 46% of online adults in the Older Boomers and Seniors cohort consume some form of social media, whether it’s watching other peoples’ videos, reading other peoples’ blogs, or looking at other people’s photos. For many marketers chasing this demographic, that’s an audience too large to ignore.