Marketing to people who have similar interests may carry a greater value proposition than marketing to those who don't, even though they may be socially connected.
One secret to marketing successfully via social media is to focus on people's shared interests and passions, or what is known as the "interest graph."
For example, although Pinterest could be considered a social network, it doesn't rely on the "social graph" - the network of personal connections - as the impetus for activity that takes place on the site, but the interest graph instead.
Put another way, if the social graph is a "sociogram" that maps people and their relationships, an interest graph is an "infogram" that maps people and their interests.
Just because my Facebook friend is wild about funny cat videos doesn't mean that I also have a penchant for the furry creatures. (Maybe that's a bad example. I mean, how can you not like cat videos, right?)
On the other hand, even though I may not know a person based on a social connection, a shared interest can bind us together in meaningful ways. As such, marketing to people who have similar interests carries a greater value proposition than marketing to those who don't, even though they may be socially connected.
An outstanding example of how to do this is a campaign using Pinterest run by online retailer Land's End. Called "Pin It to Win It," the brand asked followers to browse its LandsEndCanvas.com website and pin their favorite items to Pinterest pinboards for a chance to win gift cards valued at $250.
Land's End promoted the contest on Facebook and highlighted winning pinboards there as well. In this instance, the area of shared interest was not just the clothes, but also the brand itself.
The approach Land's End took was very campaign-specific, but it doesn't always have to be that way. Tying unique hashtags to ongoing marketing activities or special events is another way for this to work.
It is the interest graph that should guide your marketing, rather than the social graph. After all, we rarely buy anything simply because some friend we knew from high school did. Recommendations from people who we may not be connected to socially, but who share our interests and passions can carry much more weight.
In scientific terms, this is referred to as "homophile," which is psychobabble for "birds of a feather flock together." Simply put, people tend to gravitate toward others who share their interests – and that presents a marketing opportunity.
Here are five simple ways you can use the interest graph to advance your social media marketing agenda:
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Paul Chaney is principal of Chaney Marketing Group, a boutique agency that provides integrated online marketing solutions built on the concept that quality, optimized content framed within the proper context drives sales conversions.
He is a freelance writer, popular speaker, and author of four books on the topics of business blogging, social media, and social commerce. His latest is "The Social Commerce Handbook: 20 Secrets for Turning Social Media into Social Sales," published by McGraw-Hill.
Paul sits on the board of advisors for the Women's Wisdom Network, the Social Media Marketing Institute, SmartBrief on Social Media, and MyVenturePad.com.
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