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
If you’re a designer, entrepreneur, or creative – you probably
haven’t been asked for your resume in a long time. Instead,
people Google you – and quickly assess your talents based on
your website, portfolio, and social media profiles. Do they
resonate with what you’re sharing? Do they identify with your
story? Are you even giving them a story to wrap their head
That’s why the resume is on the out, and the bio is on the rise. People work with
people they can relate to and identify with. Your bio needs to tell the
bigger story. Especially, when you’re in business for yourself, or in the business
of relationships. It’s your bio that’s read first.
To help you with this, your bio should address the following five
1. Who am I?
2. How can I help you?
3. How did I get here (i.e. know what I know)?
4. Why can you trust me?
5. What do we share in common?
here are a few key pointers for reinventing your bio as a story:
1. Share a Point of View.
You’re a creative. Having something to say is the ultimate proof.
What’s missing from the larger conversation? Speak to that. Don’t be afraid
to tell the bigger story. We want to know how you see the world.
Show us that you have a unique perspective or fresh vantage point on the
things that matter most.
2. Create a Backstory.
Explain the origin for how you came to see the world in this way.
Maybe it was something that happened to you as a kid or early in your career. Consider your superhero origins. How did you come into these powers?
What set you off on this quest or journey? What’s the riddle or mystery you are
still trying to solve? When you tell the story of who you were meant to be, it becomes an undeniable story. Natural authority is speaking from the place of
what you know and have lived.
3. Incorporate External Validators.
Think frugally here. To paraphrase the artist De La Vega, we spend too much
time trying to convince others, instead of believing in ourselves. Nonetheless,
if you’re doing something new, different, or innovative – you have to anchor
it into the familiar. Help people see that your novel ideas are connected to
things they recognize and trust. That might be your notable clients, press, publications, or things you’ve created. Just enough to show people your story
is for real.
4. Invite people into relationship.
Now that you’ve established you’ve got something to share, remind people
you’re not so different from them. Vulnerability is the new black.
Share some guilty pleasures. Describe what you like to geek out on. Reveal
a couple things you obsess about as hobbies or interests. This will make you
more approachable and relatable. You’re human, too. Help people find
the invisible lines of connection.
Last year, Sprint gave students in a marketing class at Emerson College 10 smartphones with unlimited wireless access. In return, Sprint received free marketing work for their budding 4G network in Boston from students who blogged and tweeted, and more importantly were able to record firsthand how social media could be effectively used at the company.
Unbeknownst to many, companies have increasingly turned to universities for research on social media. This isn’t highly unusual, as traditionally manufacturers have given financial support to universities conducting research relevant to their companies. In the past though, support has been given to “hard” sciences, for example to the research of pharmaceutical drugs. Companies had never partnered with universities to better understand social media.
However, this appears to be changing. Programs at Northwestern, Emerson, Arizona State, and the University of Florida have been partnering with businesses to specifically research how social media can be used effectively. “It’s allowing for a new kind of research that just wasn’t even possible a few years ago,” says associate professor Dmitri Williams, the Wall Street Journal reports. In a world where social media continues to be a buzz word, businesses are looking for every advantage they can get.
As an example of how social media is being examined, the Wall Street Journal reported that at one class at Arizona State University, the students divided into teams to generate buzz around FoxSportsArizona.com. Fox Sports Net, a group of regional sports channels, will be working with 10 schools as part of a program it calls Creative University.
Despite the successful results from the companies thus far, is it a good idea for companies to conduct social media research at the university level?
Although there are advantages, as seen above, there are hidden costs as well. The time needed to establish a partnership with a program and the commitment the company gives to a university and its students; these may not always be financially related, but they are important nonetheless. Even with this commitment, in return the company would receive students who spend a limited amount of time per week on the project and who have multiple sources competing for their attention. As creative as students can be, they are not working 9AM to 5PM on these projects.
The lack of time and attention is particular true in the examples above, where businesses partnered with undergraduate programs. Traditionally, companies that have lent financial support to “hard” sciences have supported graduate programs, namely PhD students, and these students, in addition to having more time to spend, are under strict supervision. A PhD student, it could be argued, is more similar in their commitment to a project to a full-time employee than to an undergraduate student.
There is no such thing as a free lunch, and perhaps the costs, hidden or explicit, of conducting social media research at the undergraduate level outweigh the benefits. (via socialbeat)
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)
“Whenever someone asks me of the ROI of social media, I reply that I’d like to discuss the ROI of your mom.”
- LeWeb: Gary Vaynerchuk in Quotes (onemanandhisblog.com)
“Crowdsourcing your logo is not a social brand platform–it’s more like asking a date what you should wear for dinner.”
Today, people are more interested in what a brand can do for them. Great brands are discovering that logos or advertisements are losing relevance, and instead put their efforts into creating social brand platforms that invite participation and create value in authentic and relevant ways. The real reason the Gap logo failed was that it wasn’t backed by any of this.
Social brand platforms require a new way of thinking: a cross between advertising, branding and design. In contrast to static logos and corporate identities where the focus is on control and consistency, social brand platforms have five key characteristics: they’re useful, social, living, layered and curated.
Logos create value for brands, but social brand platforms create value for people. They do not exist to promote something else (Logo), but rather they are useful in and of themselve. Take Nike+, Etsy, Facebook, ..
Social brand platforms focus on defining the context. They invite people to interact in one-to-one, one-to-many, and many-to-many ways.
But social brand platforms are living experiences and become more valuable as the crowd contributes to these platforms.
Social brand platforms thrive by offering multiple levels of involvement. They provide room for three types of involvement – creation, commenting and consuming. (only .1% of YouTube users are creators)
Without curation, user-generated content is useless. There are number of ways to discover content by color, location, time, editors’ picks, user evaluation and staff recommendation to name a few.
(Steve McCallion is executive creative director at design and innovation consultancy Ziba Design. Read full story at fastcodesign)
- ReTargeter’s Social Platform Transforms the World of Display Advertising, Delivers Massive ROI (prweb.com)
- 5 New Ways to Market Your Brand on Facebook (mashable.com)
- What Social Media Lesson Did Gap Learn? (directmarketingobservations.com)
A radically simple web platform designed to turn good intentions into action, one microaction at a time, which launched in beta with a demo at TED 2010, and of MakeLoveNotPorn.com, launched at TED 2009. She acts as board advisor to a number of tech startups and consults, describing her consultancy approach as ‘I like to blow shit up. I am the Michael Bay of business.’ Cindy Gallop’s background is brandbuilding, marketing and advertising – she started up the US office of ad agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty in New York in 1998 and in 2003 was named Advertising Woman of the Year. You can find Cindy on Twitter.