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The Interest Graph – Eight ways to get ready by Edward Boches

Posted in blog, ideas, Media, web by aldorf on July 22, 2012

Social networks like Facebook start with your friends and let you see what you have in common.  Interest graph-based models – Springpad, Pinterest, Get Glue – start with your interests and then let you make connections. It’s less about who you know and more about what you care about.

Platforms attempting to capture and map the interest graph are the next big trend in social media

If you happen to have your Google alerts set up to grab the latest blog posts and articles about Pinterest, you’re stream is pretty well populated these days. Add “Facebook Actions” or “Springpad” or “Svpply” or “Hunch” and it gets even more crowded.  Maybe that’s why I don’t dare add queries for Google’s new privacy changes or developments like YouTube’s original channels. It would be more than anyone could possibly bear.

With each passing week, the social web evolves. Now that we’ve supposedly mastered Facebook and Twitter, we’re confronted with Google + and all the new interest graph platforms mentioned above. Are we ready? Do we know what to do? Do we have a strategy in place?

Recent research that Mullen just conducted suggests not. We surveyed 160 CMOs and marketing chiefs to find out where they stood when it came to using social media, monitoring the stream, developing conversation strategy and having a plan for tapping the interest graph.

We were surprised at some of the results.

Marketers remain challenged by social media

While 87 percent of respondents claimed that social media was somewhat or very important to their marketing efforts, most of their efforts remained limited to, or at least focused on Facebook. Nearly 80 percent were committed to the world’s largest social network. But fewer than 20 percent were using Google + and a full 80 percent had no focus at all on a platform like Foursquare.

While ongoing engagement emerged as one primary objective (64.5 percent noted it) marketers declared their number one reason for using social media was to generate awareness (76.8 percent), an objective that beat out both customer support (29.7 percent) and building loyalty (53.5 percent).

Among the more disappointing, but perhaps expected findings was the fact that marketers measure success primarily by how many followers and/or likes they generate (71.6 percent). By comparison, downloads (24.5 percent), share of conversation (25.2) and referrals (35.5) remained far less important. The latter is particularly surprising given the social web’s built in ability to inspire word-of-mouth marketing and the sharing of recommendations.

When it comes to content, marketers continue to think like traditional advertisers. They primarily use social platforms to promote products and offers (67.5 percent) and to deliver updates (64.9 percent). Providing utility (33.1) and offering entertainment (22.7) remain far less important concerns.

Despite the flurry of press coverage on the emerging importance of the interest graph, nearly half or respondents (48.7 percent) never heard of the term “interest graph,” and when they had it explained – the ability to connect with consumers in a more meaningful way by tapping into their interests – only 26.6 percent thought it could be “very useful.”

As for all that buzz around Pinterest, a platform generating page views, user growth and inbound links for the early adopter brands? Close to half of our respondents (42.2 percent) never even heard of it, while barely a sliver (4.5 percent) had started using it.

Perhaps that’s no surprise given that 68.8 percent of marketers surveyed capture no interest graph data at all — not preferences, interests, or intentions.

Finally, while brand stewards aren’t quite overwhelmed with the proliferation of platforms, they (44.2 percent) struggle with one fundamental challenge – where to put their resources.

According to a recent Mullen study, most marketers don’t capture interest data

From the social graph to the interest graph

The last finding surprises no one. Getting social media efforts to deliver hard results and ROI is a challenge for the simple reason that most consumers aren’t there to connect with brands and their advertising messages.

But the interest graph platforms can change that. If marketers can suddenly identify people who’ve raised their hands and virtually asked for a “proposal,” they can more easily connect with people who’ll welcome them.

Every social network knows this is the future. Facebook Actions now allows users to tap into and identify friends’ interests — music, tastes in foods and preferences for movies, books and more. Presumably, if you actually know what friends have good taste in music it will now be easier to call on their recommendations. Actions aren’t perfect, however.

You still have to scroll through the stream and most content isn’t really persistent, meaning if you miss it in the stream it’s gone. It still poses challenges for marketers, too.  Check out your own page and refresh it a few times. I guarantee that you’ll find the majority of ads that get served to you are completely irrelevant.  But the promise is significant. Facebook will inevitably get better at capturing even more data and presumably allow advertisers to more accurately focus messages.

Foursquare, which our research told us is barely on the radar for most marketers will start making recommendations to its users on where to eat and where to vacation based on past behavior and that of friends. Certainly any hospitality marketer – restaurants, chains, museums and hotels – should at least be exploring the possibilities, if not encouraging user participation.

But all of this is still new. The social graph as we know it is only a few years old while the interest graph has been a topic of discussion for a matter of months. So what does it all mean? For brands, it’s definitely not too late to be early. Marketers can still get in on the ground level. But they need to embrace it and work to leverage it.

For social media practitioners, there’s work to be done. We need to learn, educate each other, experiment and develop effective strategies and tactics.

Eight steps you can take to get ready

  1. Learn the difference between the social graph and the interest graph.  This simple description, by David Rogers writing in Read Write Web might help.*
  2. Read Grouped and get a better sense of how influence happens on the social web. The Tipping Point is a fallacy. Influence isn’t what you think it is. Small groups are what really matter.
  3. Open accounts on at least a few of the platforms. We would recommend Pinterest, Springpad**, and one other of your choice (The Fancy, Fab, Hunch) just to learn what it’s all about. Don’t commit to any one platform. Pinterest may be hot right now, but it’s too early to own this category and some consider the platform of the month a bit one dimensional.
  4. Take the time to learn what constitutes appropriate and effective conversation strategy on these new platforms. (Hint: it’s not simply about publishing content or adding a Spring This or Pin It button to your site.)
  5. Pay attention to Google’s new privacy policy and as mentioned earlier Facebook Actions.
  6. Look for opportunities to market to the data. We’re a few months or more away from this, but it’s coming.
  7. Use the platforms yourself. There is no better way to learn and understand their potential.
  8. If you’re at SxSW this year, come to our panel on the interest graph and deferred intent.

*The Social Graph

A social graph is a digital map that says, “This is who I know.” It may reflect people who the user knows in various ways: as family members, work colleagues, peers met at a conference, high school classmates, fellow cycling club members, friend of a friend, etc. Social graphs are mostly created on social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn, where users send reciprocal invites to those they know, in order to map out and maintain their social ties.

*The Interest Graph

An interest graph is a digital map that says, “This is what I like.” As Twitter’s CEO has remarked, if you see that I follow the San Francisco Giants on Twitter, that doesn’t tell you if I know the team’s players, but it does tell you a lot about my interest in baseball. Interest graphs are generated by the feeds customers follow (e.g. on Twitter), products they buy (e.g. on Amazon), ratings they create (e.g. on Netflix), searches they run (e.g. on Google), or questions they answer about their tastes (e.g. on services like Hunch).

Your thoughts? Please share ideas, examples or insights as to where you think things are going.


 

Please read another related article here “Social media gets interesting” 

What everyone in Silicon Valley and “Venture Land” conceive of as the real game-changing model involves capturing and capitalizing on the “interest graph. The company that succeeds in doing so would be “close to the Google search paradigm because it would be right in line with demand generation and with discovery that relates to product purposes.” Thus, it is the interest graph that defines the middle ground between Google and Facebook — between search, advertising, and the social graph.

(original posts by Edward Boches)

Creating a Data-Driven Business – by David Cancel

Posted in ideas, internet, Media by aldorf on July 21, 2012

Not really an easy to click trough presentation by David Cancel but some great insights and observations on creating a data-driven business. http://bit.ly/HbjPIH 

One great striking slide,

Why I Hire People, Not Skills – great insight by David Cancel

Posted in blog, ideas, quality by aldorf on July 21, 2012

Companies change. Products evolve. Approaches get thrown out the window. The centrifugal force alone of that kind of rapid development is enough to throw anyone off center. Throughout my experience, one guiding rule on team building in fast-moving companies has emerged: hire people, not skills.

It can be tempting when you’re first growing to hire someone specifically to fill a gap in your company’s skillset. If you hire someone for skills alone, however, they may lose balance as the company grows, when those skills are no longer as central or get placed into a different context. Each time I have built a team, personal traits – not professional skills – have been what propelled the company forward.

So, what traits matter? The answer is going to vary by company and founder, but I look for the following:

Cultural Fit (45%)

Fit is arguably the most important of any qualification. Start-ups can be very hard, and they become impossible if you don’t love the people around you. Getting the culture right is critical. No matter how stellar a candidate’s skills are, if they don’t fit well with your team, it won’t work out for anyone involved. Be careful here though: fit should not signal conformity. You do not need 12 identical personalities. You need a mix of people with differing perspectives but shared values. You need at team that is cohesive because of its differences.

Scrappiness and Drive (35%)

At Performable, we include scrappiness in the job description. We seek out people who have toppled challenges with very limited resources. This is not just about being lean. It is about the character of the team. The four most powerful words coming from a new hire are: “I’ll figure it out.” Find someone who you can trust to say that and follow through on it, and you’ve found a true asset.

This kind of drive is different than traditional ambition. Ambitious people will succeed at any task laid before them. They will personally excel, quickly rising from manager to director to vice president. A scrappy person who is driven does not rely on titles or defined responsibilities. He or she will push the company forward even when no one’s looking. Driven people move through the responsibilities on their lists, but also keep a constant eye on how the company as a whole can do things smarter and better.

Intelligence and Experience (15% and 5%, respectively)

Intelligence and experience are valuable, but a scrappy person who fits well on the team can learn fast. In a start-up, jobs are always changing. So when you think about intelligence and experience, make sure you are thinking about it in terms of a genuine hunger to learn and level of life-experience that enables the candidate to easily adapt and evolve.

Discovering these traits in candidates may come down to a gut feeling for many, but some of it can be illuminated by carefully posed questions and by getting a candidate outside of the typical interview set-up. Whenever possible change the setting, meet candidates outside of the office, at events or out for coffee. Get them talking rather than answering. Find out what it is that makes them tick.

Website of David Cancel

Apple’s Secret to Delivering a Consistently Good Retail Experience

Posted in ideas, quality by aldorf on July 21, 2012

I hate bringing up this brand always as an example but they do a lot of things right.

The short lesson from this article about Apple’s retail experience is that if you want people to have a consistently good experience with your store, you must CONTROL everything. No element of your store’s experience should be left up to a random element of choice as decided by an hourly employee.

A 2007 employee training manual lays out the A-P-P-L-E “steps of service” with an acronym of the company name: “Approach customers with a personalized warm welcome,” “Probe politely to understand all the customer’s needs,” “Present a solution for the customer to take home today,” “Listen for and resolve any issues or concerns,” and “End with a fond farewell and an invitation to return.” It is reportedly still in use today.

Freedom comes on the other side of control. Question is, how are we controlling the experience in our stores?

Ken Burns on Story Telling

Posted in film, inspiration, Media, quality by aldorf on July 21, 2012

What makes a great story? For legendary filmmaker Ken Burns, the answer is both complicated and personal. In this short documentary about the craft of storytelling, he explains his lifelong mission to wake the dead.

Ken Burns: On Story from Redglass Pictures on Vimeo.

Make a Bike. Make a Difference.

Posted in design, ideas, web by aldorf on March 14, 2012

The Bicycle Academy

A place to learn how to make bikes. You keep the skills, your first bike goes to someone who really needs it.

The Bicycle Academy is a new enterprise providing people with the skills and facilities to design and make their own bikes.

Frame building will be taught by the legendary Brian Curtis as evening classes or short weekday courses. As part of the learning process each student will make a frame designed specifically for use in Africa. Once graduated students will be able to use The Bicycle Academy workshop to hone their skills and build their own frames. (Sponsored via peoplefund.it)

The Importance of Brand in an Era of Digital Darwinism

Posted in ideas, innovation, internet by aldorf on March 7, 2012

Excerpts of an unpublished appendix for The End of Business as Usual… by Brian Solis

Markets, consumer behavior and how businesses connect with customers are all directly impacted by technology.

The increasingly important role of technology, combined with global economic unrest, means a company’s brand is more important today than it has ever been. Consumers, in search of certainty, rely heavily on a brand’s symbolism and significance

Digital Darwinism is the evolution of consumer behavior when society and technology evolve faster than some companies’ ability to adapt.

Babson College cited a rather humbling statistic; “Over 40% of the companies that were at the top of the Fortune 500 in 2000 were no longer there in 2010.”

24/7 Wall St. published its annual list of “Ten Brands That Will Disappear in 2012.” The publication predicts the demise of some of the world’s most recognizable brands, including Sony Pictures, American Apparel and Nokia.

“For me, marketing is about values. This is a very noisy world and we’re not going to get a chance to get people to remember much about us. So, we have to be very clear what we want them to know about us.” (Steve Jobs)

The company then looked inward in an attempt to answer the questions: Who is Apple; What does it stand for and where does the brand fit in the world.

“What we’re about isn’t making boxes for people to get their jobs done,” said Jobs during the company meeting,” Apple’s core value is that we believe people with passion can change the world…for the better. Those people, crazy enough to think that they can change the world are the ones that actually do.…Here’s to the crazy ones.”

McDonald’s is adapting to a new era, creating an experience marked by muted colors, wooden tables and faux leather chairs. And, that’s just the beginning. McDonald’s is pouring $1 billion into redesigning the consumer experience.

Everything begins with embracing a culture of innovation and adaptation — a culture that recognizes the impact of disruptive technology and how consumer preference and affinity is evolving.

If a organizations cannot recognize opportunities to further compete for attention and relevance, it cannot, by default, create meaningful connections, a desirable brand or drive shareable experiences. The brand, as a result, will lost preference in the face of consumer choice, which may one day lead to its succumbing to digital Darwinism.

Stop Kony – This Is Powerful Social Media

Posted in film, innovation, internet by aldorf on March 7, 2012

This is how to utilize social media!

KONY 2012 is a film and campaign by Invisible Children that aims to make Joseph Kony famous, not to celebrate him, but to raise support for his arrest and set a precedent for international justice. Pledge your support by donating here: bit.ly/konydonate and continue to share this story. GOAL: 500,000 shares

Must Read “Nike’s New Marketing Mojo”

Posted in design, ideas, inspiration, Media, quality by aldorf on March 6, 2012

Nike has always been at the forefront of cutting edge philosophies in the world of design, execution and marketing. One of the most innovative in recent memory was the establishing of Nike Digital Sport in 2010, whose aim was to develop devices and technologies that allowed users to track their personal statistics in any sport in which they participated. For those interested in Nike’s marketing philosophies, head over to Fortune to read the fascinating article in its entirety.

Mobile Web Growing 8x Faster Than Web

Posted in Media, web by aldorf on March 6, 2012

The mobile web is growing 8 times faster than the web grew in adoption. Companies like Amazon, eBay, PayPal, and Google were all products of the initial web explosion.  They disrupted countless established business – some of which never recovered. Today, 3 times more smartphones are activated every minute than there are babies born. Read more…

Check out my “Future of Mobile Internet” presentation.

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