Mindshare Proposes Interest Graph in Vision for Social Commerce

The disconnect between social and commerce is virtually impossible to overcome in an all-encompassing environment like Facebook, according to a new report from Mindshare.

The WPP Group’s London-based agency concluded that direct transactions on Facebook for goods and services are “unlikely to become a huge opportunity.” In order to achieve scale, Mindshare believes the social graph must be integrated across more platforms with social features.

In its new report on the future of social commerce, it argues that even the sharing of data between competitors such as Facebook and Amazon will be more complementary than disruptive.

The ever-present like button on Facebook will eventually give way to what it calls the next wave of social signals – moving from like to want, have, need, or love, for example. These steps will enable the transition from social recommendations to a more customized framework of shared interests among friends and strangers alike, according to the report.

Facebook is making its own moves into the social commerce space as well. Just last week the social giant launched a new Gifts service that enables users to purchase tangible items for other Facebook users. There are currently more than 100 retail partners on board including Starbucks, Magnolia Bakery and others.

Rather than reaching consumers based on their personal connections in the social graph, Mindshare is pushing for an interest graph that will be based on shared interest connections. While the social graph informs brands about the identity of each user and who they know, there is only an implicit indication of what products or services they might buy. The interest graph, however, will create explicit buy signals by focusing on how users view themselves and what they like or want, according to Mindshare’s projections.

The interest graph will not be dependent on the scale of each network because it captures a greater reach of users on other platforms such as Twitter, Tumblr, Google+, Instagram, and Pinterest, the agency adds.

To get a leg up on these opportunities, Mindshare encourages brands to evolve from fan retention to customer sales.

Offers should be driven by referral programs and exclusivity mechanics while interest-driven marketing efforts can leverage social curation and interest-graph data for paid advertising, the agency notes in the report.

By coupling interest-graph data with loyal customer data, brands can target audiences with a higher propensity to buy, according to the agency. And through its vision for social commerce, Mindshare also proposes that customers can become affiliates if they’re rewarded for helping brands acquire new customers.