Why Brands Should Focus On The Interest Graph

 

There is an increasing focus on peoples interest graph, and thanks to Twitter we have a relation to people, because we share an interest, and not necessarily because we have met them or are related. This is also the difference between our social graph and our interest graph. People we have an interest in, or are related to, compose our social graph. Our interest graph on the other hand are things we have an interest in.

Many brands are interested in knowing their customers social graph - the people we know or have an interest in knowing. But it is actually more valuable to know your community of customers and stakeholders based on their interest graph - since the interests we share tells brands more about what we regard as value in a conversation or commercial relation.

What Do People Want To Talk About? If we take a look at the relevance of a social graph, i.e. the people we have a social relation with, it is a minor percentage that share our interests, unless it covers normal life activities as food and living. But how many of the people you know on Facebook also shares your passion for vintage watches, tennis or even social media? If you compare the social graph relevancy to the people you are connected with on Twitter, Pinterest or Quora, there is a difference in our social ties, because we are connected based on our shared interests - which compose our interest graph. We don't necessarily know each other, in other words we do not have to comment on birthdays, newborns or day to day life. The small talk is exchanged with a focused conversation, about the stuff we care about.

We are a social species, so the relations we have based on an interest, might be extended to a regular social relation, if we get to know each other online, and even better if we meet in real life. This is what we do when we meet people, we examine shared interests, our network and other ties that might create a stronger foundation for our connection. When social meets interests, and vice versa, we have a stronger relation, because it is based on more relational aspects.

For a brand or company wanting to tap into their community, the value of their stakeholders interest graph is much higher than our typical social ties such as family, high school sweethearts or past and present colleagues. This value can be cultivated to increase the viral spread surrounding a brand, their products and more important their unique expertise.

Static Versus Dynamic Relations. Our social graph is far more static because it is based on a relation, and they tend to last longer than interests - luckily. Our interest graph is dynamic, representing changes in our lives, when we get a new professional focus, when we get children or a new hobby. This dynamic and real-time information is crucial for brands to know and understand, in order to reach their customers with relevancy rather than randomness.

Understanding peoples interests on Facebook is a challenge, because it is hard to filter the social talk from the interest talk, and Facebook knows that. Twitter is leading the race on the interest graph, but Facebook will undoubtedly do what they can to take the lead. Facebook already gave their users the option to follow or like a person or company, instead of becoming friends. Facebook still needs to qualify what we talk about, not only in order to increase their add value, but also for their users to relate based on interests. If you want a relation based on your interests, Twitter is still much more accessible when it comes to finding people or tags, that represents your themes.

Consumers Want Valuable Ads. According to comScore, 75% of online shoppers say every retailer should offer tracking information on their purchases, which indicates that consumers want more value when receiving adds and offers. There is also a difference in how social networks collect interest data. The explicit interest data is utilized by services like Pinterest where a user manually shows their interests. Amazon on the other hand is a good example of how brands can provide implicit interest data, by showing the books other people bought, after buying yours, or if you like this book - you might also want these.

Gignal Is Based On A Brands Interest Graph. Gignal gives brands and events the possibility to collect and present social network content produced by their audience, based on an interest, such as the brand or event name/tag, or the themes related, hereunder product names, knowledge or discussions. This has several benefits, it drives the social network traffic to the brand that now hosts the conversations, instead of handing their buzz out to the social networks, to have and to hold. Users will see the entire interest talk, and not only the narrow angle from their own social network profile, you don't even need an account to follow the buzz, and you can see it across various social networks from Twitter, Facebook, pictures and check-ins.

Focus On The Ball Not The Man This is why brands should focus more on their customers interest graph rather than their social graph, because it gives them the knowledge about what their audience is talking about, and what they want to talk about. Brands should examine their role as a media company towards their customer, so why not tap into the source of inspiration that can lead to a valuable social profile - giving customers signal rather than noise.

photo credit: flickr/batmoo

Quora - Redefining Relations

Twitter came first with their social network structure, based on thematic relations rather than the ones we know from LinkedIn, Facebook amongst others, which take-off on first or second level physical relations. The big problem with Twitter is that it takes a significant while before you find a group of skilled people that represent the topics you are interested in following. And to get value from Twitter you also need followers to establish a dialogue. This is also why so many people abandon Twitter before their second tweet, they just don’t get this new networking structure. Creating a new thematic network takes a lot of time, but when established, they can in many ways become more valuable than traditional relations - or even be so.

What I love about Quora is that it offers dynamic thematic relations, making the various networks so accessible, allowing you to jump directly into the stream of knowledge you need. You instantly get access to the entire crowd of topic specialists and questions, which could take months or years to establish on Twitter. Quora takes us from our social graph to a dynamic interest graph i.e. our relationship might only last a question.

This new thematic network structure will allow us to focus on the quality of our network, rather than the quantity of people we follow or have as “friends”. Value comes from a qualitative focus and design, which I hope and believe will be the future digital network structure.

Another beautiful feature is that you can follow and ask questions directly to a crowd of specialist, that are following a specific topic. In the good old online days (before Quora) that would have taken a lot of effort to achieve.

Quora now has to proof that the questions asked get answered rather fast, and that the quality is high. So a top priority for their community managers is to attract specialist to cultivate valuable conversations around the world of themes.

Previous post on gaining online quality rather than quantity. Can real time web bring real world change?