The social Web is divided into two spaces: the social graph and the interest graph. Your social graph is made up of your connections: your friends, pages you like, profiles you follow and content you see. Your interest graph, however, is focused on sentiment: what you actually like.
During the South By Southwest panel “Harvesting Consumer Content from the Social Web,” technology journalist Jolie O’Dell led marketing professionals AJ Vaynerchuk, Edward Boches, Farrah Bostic and Jeff Janer in a discussion of how the expression of intent is changing how consumers and brands use social media.
Too often, brands use social media to market to demographics rather than interests. The idea of grouping one’s personal interests into easily readable and well-displayed collections has been popularized by the hot social-networking site Pinterest. Applications such as GetGlue and even Foursquare can also provide accurate displays of what sparks a user’s interest. These platforms are opening doors for markers to tap not only a person’s social connections but also interest graph.
Because many of these platforms are in their early stages, here are a few tips the panelists recommended for mastering them and getting a sense of your audience’s interest graph.
- Learn to market to your audience. Sounds simple, right? But the problem most brands have is that they “spray and pray” with their content. They put loads of content on the social Web and figure that if at least one thing resonates with one person, they’ve connected. Not the case. Use your data to learn, make your content shareable, and from those results, figure out what to do next.
- Use recognizable characters or trendy ideas to promote your brand. Use what your audience is already talking about as a starting point for your own conversations. For instance, the TV show “Mad Men” is huge, in particular the vintage ’60s style of the characters on the show. A clothing store could take that trend and create a board on Pinterest titled “The Looks of Mad Men” and use items from its stock to imitate the look. This gives audience members a hip way to connect to the brand and some fresh ideas they might actually be interested in running with.
- Measure and track everything you do on these platforms. Otherwise, you’re going to make the same mistakes and alienate your audience repeatedly. Know what subjects interest your audience members the most, what inspires them to associate with your brand and be brand ambassadors, and provide them with true utility.
The key to tapping your audience’s interest graph is being a leader: a thought leader, a concept leader and a content leader. Know what your fans like, and give them increasingly more of that. Create do-it-yourself campaigns, get funky, have fun — but always remember to look back at what your audience did and didn’t like and cater all future campaigns to that data.
Constance Aguilar is a social media strategist and account manager at Abbi Public Relations, where she oversees client strategy on both social media channels and through traditional media relations as well as event producing. You can follow her on Twitter@ConnieAguilar and read her blog posts at The Abbi Agency Blog.