By now you’ve heard of Pinterest. I’ll even bet that you’ve probably seen stories about why your brand needs to be on Pinterest. You may even be annoyed by all of the Pinterest articles, because I know I am. But this is not just another blog post on why you need to be on Pinterest, or a hot list of brands using Pinterest well. Nope. I’m going to share a concept around the interest graph – the backbone of almost all bookmarking and visual social sites.
THE SOCIAL GRAPH
Many social media sites have some sort of graph identifying various characteristics of each user. Facebook uses the “Social Graph” where individuals are connected based on social characteristics – friends, colleagues, family, live near each other, grew up together, are regulars at the corner bar, met at a networking event, etc. On Facebook, our behavior is very social, too. We tag ourselves and friends in photos, we share videos of the kids doing silly things, we share cool news stories and start conversations around hot topics, and more. We are connected to each other through social identifiers.
The “Interest Graph” is a little bit different. On social sites like Pinterest and other social bookmarking sites (StumbleUpon, Bundlr, Digg, Delicious, etc.), we are connected by common interests. We follow topics, boards, bundles, and people because a common interest exists. Popular interests around food, crafts, books, fashion, and design tend to have large followings, while ideas around technology, marketing, books, are quickly making their way up the ranks. On the interest graph, a social behavior element exists – it is still considered a social site, but people are connected by common interests more than the social identifiers. You may not necessarily follow a college friend on Pinterest unless they had a wicked cool school spirit board, amazing cocktail recipe pins, or perhaps great ideas on how to decorate the new baby’s bedroom. The two of you are socially connected, but unless there is a common interest, you are less likely to follow them.
SO WHAT DOES ALL OF THIS MEAN FOR MARKETERS?
Well, understanding the difference between the social graph and the interest graph, and associated behaviors on each is the first step towards progress. The next thing is to remember what you as a marketer are trying to accomplish with leveraging these communities. Is it brand awareness? Lead Generation? Customer Loyalty? Referrals? All of the above? Then, find out from your audience what their interests are – it doesn’t work if you build out content on the interest graph if it isn’t relevant, relatable, timely, and <interesting</em> to the target audience. Reach out to brand ambassadors and ask them if they are on these sites and see what sorts of things they are interested in. Ask your current audience things beyond your brand. What other resources would they like to have access to? Understanding and relating to the whole customer will take you a million miles by way of trust. Oh, and don’t forget the power of a share – the most powerful element of word of mouth marketing these days.
Lastly, I’ll leave you with something I read recently and sure wish I could remember where I saw it. As marketers we are under pressure to come up with buttoned up strategic plans that produce the numbers. In the whirlwind of creating the perfect plan, we often lose sight of the benefits of jumping in and splashing around. When it comes to marketing, and definitely with social media, (and probably a whole host of other things) remember this:
Focus on progress, not perfection.
Are you using social bookmarking sites in your marketing strategy? What sorts of results are you seeing?
Share your sites in the comments below so we can all follow!