From numerous platforms and apps – Google, Facebook,
Twitter, Foursquare – we are seeing a clear and continued evolution toward
making it easier for consumers to declare not just their past or current
actions (status updates, check-ins, etc) but their interests (as individuals
and as groups) and even future plans or intentions.
With the likes of Pinterest, people can more easily than
ever express their likes, tastes and passions. With apps like Springpad, they
can also share what they plan to buy or watch or places they hope to visit or
Established (Google, Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare) and
emerging (Pinterest, Springpad, Fab, The Fancy) platforms are collectively making
what we call the “interest graph” the next important trend in social media,
community, user participation and marketing.
But it’s the latter, by inviting effortless expressions in
the form of pins, springs, and shares, that is creating new opportunities for
both consumers and marketers.
It’s now easier than ever for consumers to discover things
they care about, express their interests, find inspiration from those with like
minded passions, and share or publish the content, products and items that reflect
And as consumers more willingly filter themselves by
interest, brands can more effectively focus their messages, content and utility
on those who will welcome it.
Better yet, they can begin to identify and “harvest” intent,
helping users bridge the gap between discovery and action with useful, timely
and relevant information and offers.
The promise for consumers is not only fewer annoying
interruptions but alerts, information, price changes that help them make better
decisions. The promise for brands and marketers is increased efficiency.
As with all previous social platforms, consumers will
embrace the technology on their terms. They’ll use it if it’s easy, rewarding,
connects them to the right people, and invites them to shape the experience. They
won’t really care whether advertisers or brands show up or not.
Yet brands need four things in order to really take
advantage of the interest graph.
A strategy to add value by inspiring discovery and enhancing
--that calls for more than simply putting content in the
space or adding a button to your site.
The ability to distinguish the difference between a like and
an intended action.
--figuring out how to determine whether people are sharing
what they own, or simply think is cool, or posting what they actually want to buy --
issuing a consumer generated RFI so to speak.
Enough scale to make it worth the effort.
--ideally a brand wants to be able to market to the data,
not simply rely on consumers
A way to measure ROI
--whatever investment is made in time and money needs to
generate a return in recommendations, traffic and sales conversion
As is often the case, technology, consumer behavior and
brand understanding don’t all happen at the same time.
Usually the technology appears first, in response to an
opportunity or need. Consumer participation shows the developer what works and
doesn’t work and begins to define how it gets used. Brands that are paying
close attention start to experiment. The majority of marketers show up a year
or two later. And often still with the wrong strategies and tactics.
So where are we now?