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
- Learn the difference between the social graph and the interest graph. This simple description, by David Rogers writing in Read Write Web might help.*
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.)
- Look for opportunities to market to the data. We’re a few months or more away from this, but it’s coming.
- Use the platforms yourself. There is no better way to learn and understand their potential.
- 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)
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
Co-Founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger were able to launch Instagram without being computer science graduates. Krieger is proud of this fact, as it shows students from other disciplines can start companies in the technology space. He recalls his most valuable Stanford courses as the ones that taught him to define questions and then allowed him the freedom to seek the answers. In this clip, fellow Co-Founder Kevin Systrom also talks about the importance of connecting with other members of the entrepreneurial community. (via ecorner)
Do we really need more social networks? Looking at New York based Chris and Becky Carella’s latest venture, Subjot, the answer could well be ‘yes’. Subjot, on the other hand, makes a decent effort in terms of setting itself apart.
It’s not just another Twitter clone. There’s no denying that there’s a ton of similarities but there is one feature in particular which is pretty interesting – and that is the ability to curate the content you follow from other users. So instead of following all of their status updates, you can view a list of the topics they ‘jot’ about, and select only the ones that are of interest to you.
How does it work?
When sending an update, which is limited to 250 characters, you can accompany that update with a ‘subject’ of your choice. People who follow you can then select from your subjects what exactly they want to hear about. Read full article…
“Horsmaning,” or fake beheading, was a popular way of taking pictures in the 1920s. It’s currently experiencing a revival and is basically the new planking. Join the group on Facebook.
ifttt – Short for “if this then that”.
New Service with the potential to make a significant impact.
In today’s time-pressured world, people are constantly looking for ways to speed up their daily tasks. Hoping to help towards that end, we recently came across ifttt — an application that allows users to exercise their creativity in automating certain online activities. Ifttt hopes to automate digital tasks so that they can trigger a function for which they were not originally designed. This is made possible through a “trigger” and “action” model. For example, a trigger could be “If I’m tagged in a photo on Facebook”. When this occurs, it will automatically execute an action, such as “create a tweet on twitter”. Tibbets gives another example: “For instance, you can use Google reader starred items to share images on your Tumblr blog, or customize how and which photos from your Flickr stream show up on your Facebook wall.” These tasks can be turned on and off, with a maximum of ten being turned on at once. Ifttt ultimately relies on the creativity of its users to effectively automate their online activities. However, by making this a simple and intuitive process, Ifttt has the potential to make a significant impact.
Facebook continues to expand its crack team of creative types with the hiring of Nicholas Felton and Ryan Case. The duo displayed their knack for beautiful data visualization with recent project Daytum, an eye-catching app that transforms mundane daily goings-on into fancy charts.
Felton and Case relocated to San Francisco to join a newly assembled team in Facebook’s creative division that includes recent hires like former Google Labs employee Ji Lee and Mark Darcy, formerly of Time Warner Media Group.
Full story at FastCoDesign
- Daytum Article on Frank’s blog
- Your Digital Memorial (core77.com)
- Daytum (daytum.com)
- Facebook Acquires Daytum (Ryan Case and Nicholas Felton) (daytum.wordpress.com)
Thanks Alex Trimpe for putting this video together. Brilliant work and a helpful source in terms of Facebook stats.
The world is obsessed with Facebook, but it’s hard to fathom just how obsessed until you’ve seen the numbers. Video wizard Alex Trimpe lays bare our collective Facebook-loving souls in a new video called, appropriately enough, “The World is Obsessed With Facebook.”
The stats are beautifully laid out and animated. 500 million active Facebook users. 750 million photos uploaded in one weekend. 48% of us checking Facebook right when we wake up. And if that’s not scary enough, check out Trimpe’s snapshot of the activity on the site every 20 minutes. It’s insane. (via urlesque.com)
Companies will continue to stress return on investment and the real value of the customer voice.
The report on Bazaarvoice also includes a number of fascinating insights in the industry. For instance:
- 73 percent of CMOs report participating in customer reviews
- 59 percent of CMOs reported seeing average or significant ROI
- The two most popular places of interaction with customers were company blogs (87 percent) and brand communities (86 percent)
- ROI of social-media explained by Gary Vaynerchuk
- CMOs share top insights on the bottom line of social (bazaarvoice.com)
- CMOs think they’ll find the “missing link” in 2011 (bazaarvoice.com)