What if social media marketing was more about using your social graph to learn your socialnicity to better determine what products, services and brands you would be interested in and less about serving you random advertisements based on keywords brands have bought? Herein is the concept of socialnicity, or a person’s social ethnicity (unrelated to a person’s ethnicity), that is used to deliver true social media marketing and not just brand message blasting.
(Author’s note/disclosure: I formed a company in January 2011, Socialnicity LLC, with the intent of turning this idea into a product/service along with another social communications idea. Given the complexity involved in bringing this idea to fruition I have decided instead to offer this posting as a thought leadership and eminence building piece rather than as a product idea.)
Social media marketing is a phrase that I have personally loathed for quite some time now. Every time someone says that they are a “social media marketing (title)” I tend to plan my escape rather quickly! Why? Quite simply: Somewhere along the way I will get blasted with marketing messages that are irrelevant, intrusive and unwelcome. The same sentiment is mostly true for advertisements that are served to me by Google, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and most any other social platform. Why are these ads so bad? What can be done to make them better? I’ll attempt to answer this below.
The problem with Google:
Google is by far the dominant player in the search market and they have that position for a reason: their ad services platform is the most powerful platform currently in existence (although Facebook is quickly approaching). Google will use the search terms (and your search history) to serve ads based upon what you have directly typed into the search bar. For example: if you search for “web hosting” you will likely get a sponsored link at the top or side-bar link promoting GoDaddy or any number of web hosting platforms. The benefit: these ads are highly targeted and for the most part relevant and timely. The problem: the ad, while relevant to your search query, is not always relevant to you. You might perform a search for “organic dog food” and receive targeted ads; however, Google is simply serving up the ads that companies have paid for. The brand or service could be significantly out of your price range, location or style. Google lacks this context and therefore is limited only to the sponsored ad.
The problem with Facebook:
Facebook has an incredibly powerful ad platform. Based upon the information that you provide to Facebook (including demographic information) you are served advertisements paid for by brands targeted to your demographic. The benefit: these ads are highly targeted and are likely somewhat relevant to you. Based upon your area, age, family status, etc. you can receive advertisements that would typically fit the demographic model you are in. The problem: While these ads can be somewhat relevant the truth is that it is a crapshoot and is based solely on the brand or marketers ability to more closely define what that target demographic is for a product, brand, service. When you fit this demographic the ad is served up to you and sometimes you get a winner but most of the time you get a loser.
The problem with Twitter:
Twitter is a relatively new player in the social marketing market. The Twitter ad platform currently consists of sponsored tweets and sponsored accounts that are shown whenever a user is logged in or when the user performs a search on a term or hash tag. Twitter’s nature as a real-time news and information source is built for this type of real-time information integration and sponsored accounts or tweets for a real-time activity just makes sense. The benefit: Given Twitter’s real time nature the ads that you are served via sponsored tweets or sponsored accounts are likely highly relevant to what you are in engaged in right now. The problem: While the sponsored content is relevant and real-time there is no context around the actual viability of the tweet. You might search for #DF10 (the hash tag for Salesforce.com’s annual conference in 2010) for example and find sponsored tweets that are promoting a platform that is not SFDC; this would be counter-intuitive but since the company has bought the rights to be the sponsored tweet/account for that search you are served the advertisement.
The problem with Klout:
Klout is the newest and likely the most talked about player on the SMM front. Klout has a platform that judges a user’s influence based upon several factors (including twitter followers, RTs, @mentions, Facebook interactions and more) and then serves the user with a score that tells them where they are in their own predefined hierarchy. The idea is brilliant as you are able to quickly judge the reach and influence potential of a given social user at anytime. The benefit: Klout provides a strong platform for analyzing and judging a persons true influence and communicating that influence to brands and other networked users. Klout can then provide a list of “influencers” to brands or service providers who can then provide services to these users in exchange for those users sending out influential messages to their follower base. The problem: While Klout can identify influencers on Twitter, Facebook this does not provide relevancy to the advertisement or service that the influencer can be provided and subsequently filter down to their followers. Take the fairly recent scenario where Virgin America offered free flights to people with high “klout” in the hopes that those users’ tweets and messaging would influence their followers to fly Virgin in the future. The issue arises where the person following the influencer might not ever fly or more so may not be the target demographic that Virgin is after. This is because Klout purely measures influence with no regard for content, location or follower demographic information.
The solution is Socialnicity:
The idea of socialnicity is to use the data within a person’s social graph to determine that individual’s social profile/ethnicity (hence, socialnicity) for use in delivering more highly targeted advertisements. This data can come from Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Foursquare or any other social platform that can provide interaction data. Your socialnicity would ideally be a floating categorization of you based upon the aforementioned data points. For example: Foursquare data can show where you go (cities, places) and Twitter/Facebook can be used to analyze the sentiment of those places and activates you engage in. This can start to build a profile of your social interactions (Are you an early adopter? Someone who appears to have little or a high amount of disposable income? A constant traveler? A risk taker or someone who enjoys creature comforts?) that can then be used to help serve you not just advertisements based on what you search for but rather items you might not have even known you are interested in!
Use-case 1: Dog food search
Revisiting the Google scenario above when I personally type “dog food” into Google I receive advertisements from Iams, PetSmart, Petco, Target, PetStuffChicago (even though I am in Dallas) and more. If Google knew my socialnicity profile (pretending socialnicity had been created) imagine how much better the advertisements would be? I would personally not have been served the Chicago advert or the Iams advert; however, I might have potentially been targeted with an advert for an organic home-delivered dog food based on my own social profile (something I would have actually considered!)
Use-case 2: Klout Perks
Revisiting the Klout program and Virgin America promotion you probably begin to see the power of this idea (socialnicity). Sure, a person might be influential on Twitter/Facebook; however, what if the product/service you are offering does not align to their profile? The Virgin promotion would have been much more effective if Virgin (and Klout) had known that the person being offered the promotion not only had a high Klout score but also traveled a lot and that they had followers or people interacting with them who also travel a lot. It is quite possible that someone got a free flight that never even flies just because they had a high Klout score (possibly because they constantly share funny cat photos). Conversely if my influence rating is high and I am an early adopter and the people who interact with me also share an early adopter profile tag then it makes sense to offer me promotions akin to early product releases or special events to pre-screenings/reviews rather than promotions regarding discounts on waterparks (which I never frequent).
The evolution: Socialnicity.me/username
At the end of these use-cases is the ultimate convergence of all the data in your social graph to create a singular place in the cloud to house offers and advertisements that are targeted specifically to you and your “socialnicity”. My original concept of socialnicity.me/username would look like an offer or deals page where you would be offered perks based upon your influence in a specific area (almost like Klout but with better targeting) and then deals that would proactively proposed to you based on available data within your social graph. Think of socialnicity.me (or whatever product is created) as a personal shopper of sorts. A trusted advisor that knows what you are more probable to not only like but truly enjoy and be interested in based on you, the real you, and not just some keywords that were bought.
The use-cases are numerous but these should serve as a start to get the thought process going. What do you think? Do you believe this idea could change the face of social media marketing for the better? Let me know in the comments.