I’ve written here previously about the need to take the fear out of digital engagement.

I am partial to a bit of organising, and currently plotting how to go further in embedding digital at Department of Health, so I identified some distinct groups of digital users.

Caterpillar http://www.flickr.com/photos/markop/

Cautious, but with the potential to turn into something beautiful

First up are the cautious caterpillars. They want to love digital, will happily extoll its virtues, but when it comes to getting stuck in, they lack confidence. These people need to be nurtured and have their hand held. The benefits are long-term however, and they can become your greatest ally. If you don’t look after them, they will fall into the second category:

Silent cynicals. No-one seems to deny digital these days, but many pretend to acknowledge it, whilst harbouring deep seated pessimism and clinging to the notion that the web is an add-on to what we do, rather than integral. Not to be ignored, but far harder to catch than caterpillars. Send them your ideas and offers of support. The email may be printed out before it is read, but you have to try.

Next up are empty evangalists. They have ‘found’ digital, love the web, love everything in fact, but are completely overwhelmed. They may talk the talk, but struggle to bring digital engagement into their work lives or understand how to make the web work for them. A plethora of under-used apps on the latest iProduct is a hallmark of this group. Show them some brilliant practical stuff they can do themselves, and make them think they thought of it first. Simple.

Finally come the digital divas. They used to be digital natives before that term became non-PC. Confident and experienced, willing to learn more, these are the only people who can save caterpillars, silents, and empties. But they are becoming increasingly jaded and lethargic by the challenge of dealing with too little, or even too much, enthusiasm.

If you don’t think you fit any of these, then you’re probably in limbo like me. I worry about slipping into the final category, but every so often you get the chance to lift someone out of these categories and into the sweet spot between. Enthusiastic but with a sense of caution, blending the best of traditional and new, this is the time when you can really make things happen.

My friend Nick Johnson dipped a cautious toe into Twitter waters, before deciding that a blog may help him better communicate some of the interesting audience research work he is involved with. I think he still remains to be convinced about the value of blogging, but he’s giving it a go, with a sensible approach and evaluating as he goes. That’s rewarding and motivating.