Social media has fundamentally changed the way marketers interact with potential customers. However, organizations are still not fully in sync with their customers when it comes to social media marketing. A poll by Pitney Bowes Software found that the number of marketers on a given platform outpaced the potential customers there. For instance, it found that 57 percent of marketers used Twitter, as compared to just 31 percent consumers. The corresponding numbers were 51 percent and 21 percent in the case of Google +. Additionally, it found that consumers were more annoyed when served with ads of brands that they had not 'liked' or 'followed'.
Against this backdrop, brand stewards are now turning to social media strategies that are based more on people's interests rather than relying on 'likes'. This has led to the rise of Interest Graph. Unlike a Social Graph, which maps people's connections and allows inferences based on who they know, the Interest Graph maps people's interest in things through data-mining. Simply put, an Interest Graph is a depiction of the connection between people's choices or the interests they share with each other. However, it is more about what you care about rather than who you know. While a Social Graph offers only a superficial view of a person's interests, an Interest Graph provides powerful insights into his/her personality that can be leveraged by marketers and companies.
Interest Graph-based models – Springpad, Pinterest, Get Glue – start with individual interests and then enable connections. By bringing an Interest Graph to life, brands can develop greater insights into developing products and offering services that better address the potential target group. For marketers and e-commerce sites, the Interest Graph offers a chance to segment audiences based on interests, serve them customized recommendations and demonstrate a higher ROI on their social media strategy.
When fueled by genuine interest, advertisements are much more likely to be clicked and have a better chance of leading to sales. For instance, Virgin America used Twitter's 'promoted tweets' to announce its expansion into Canada along with offers for traveler discounts. The highly targeted ads, based on users' interest, ensured that the offer was sold out in 3 hours.
The Interest Graph can be used to help strengthen relationships with customers who can receive special offers and discounts based on their interests. Or it can be used to connect users based on their interest in say, music, thus building communities which can then be targeted through tailored marketing efforts.
Tools like the Interest Graph are assuming significance as more and more companies are coming forth to invest in social business. Much of this money is flowing into marketing and PR, but customer service and sales are catching up too. An Interest Graph is a win-win tool for both the marketer and the consumer. With the Internet moving toward a more personalized future, marketers and organizations that leverage Interest Graphs and other social media tools will be the leaders. After all being interesting pays.