Taste Graph Trumps Social Graph
It’s no secret that everyone can connect with anyone. In fact, I just proved it.
Now, I’m not saying I didn’t work hard or don’t really enjoy connecting with people online. Actually, I had a really good time doing this and feel like I have connected with some really great people!
That said, for the last 90 days I wanted to show myself that the art of connection is possible–I connected with 6,000 new people on Twitter. My total reach is now 16,000 per tweet (per Socialbro.com) and my Klout score went up from 25 to 50. I’m not sure that I’m a true Klout believer just yet, but take it for what it’s worth. Obama has a lower score than blogger Chris Brogan. Really?
Great, I can connect and maybe influence. Now what? “Connection” doesn’t necessarily drive revenue. The point of connecting, at least in business, is to ultimately build inbound marketing, which equals sales. And whether I have 100 connections or 100,000, it takes just one strong influencer to make a sale.
Here’s where the “taste graph” comes in. Hunch is an internet recommendation engine recently acquired by eBay, and has been collecting a massive amount of data to build a taste graph of the web that links our affinity for any one thing (books, gadgets, fashion, food) to a prediction of what else we might like. Taste graphs connect people based on the things that they’re actually interested in, not just on their social connections alone. For over a year now, Hunch has been working with other companies to help them leverage Hunch’s taste graph to provide personalization on their own sites as well as data-driven insights about their customers.
In 2012, I believe taste graphs like Hunch will make it easier for consumers to engage with people who share similar affinities and find the products they’re most interested in. The graphs will allow businesses to connect with more accuracy based on taste. Social influence is bigger than anyone can grasp at this point and unless we can parse off areas of the socialsphere that truly agregrates the areas of taste we are interested in, it will continue to follow the same path as direct mail once followed. Remember when you used to get a lot of mail and cutting through the clutter was the name of the game? It’s back. Different medium, same challenge.
Whatever industry we’re in, we want to talk to the influencers and make an impact. And let’s be honest–even more, we want to make a sale to the end user. Here are three thoughts on how taste graphs will allow us to build the right mix of influencers.
1. Own the taste. Just as Google owns automated and accurate search results, taste graphs will own the DNA of our social makeup, giving us the ability to connect with the right people. It’s not just about how many friends, fans or followers we have–it’s about who they are, as well.
2. Our social interactions don’t define us. We are still who we are. Social networks introduce us to new people and create new interactions, but what we’re looking for is new opportunities to connect with the people most interested in what we’re offering. Taste graphs will begin to define who the “right” connections are.
3. Content is king, yes. But content that matters, is KING(er). The web is a big place, and we still have to wade through a lot of stuff to get to the content that we care about. LinkedIn has done a great job recently at providing their users with content that’s geared specifically for them based on individual interests and preferences. But wouldn’t it be cool if our entire online experience did the same? If we no longer needed to build our RSS feeds to give us what we want, but taste graphs targeted the right information to the right people?
Content aggregators are already having a tough time staying in business. Until someone builds the graph based on taste, it will simply remain a cluttered direct mail campaign.
The bottom line is–a company’s taste graph can and should produce connections that are uber-tailored to my interests. Is it possible? We’re already doing this in advertising with companies like IBM Coremetrics. Why not apply it to content and connections in the social space? The more refined and accurate my specific taste graph becomes, the more targeted our connections, messaging and interactions with the right people. Remember, all it takes is one.
Key Take-Away: Connection is important, but it’s not just about numbers. Connecting with the right people and key influencers will become even more important in 2012 and beyond.Marketer’s New Years Resolutions for 2012 Top Five 2012 Predictions: Year of the Digital Marketer. Are you Prepared?