Socializing With Media6Degrees: Social Behavioral Data

Remember the last time a social media conversation turned into a question from your client or boss? “So, how can we make this work for our business?” That’s where Media6Degrees, cofounded by David Honig, comes in. Media6Degrees’s patent-pending technology connects a brand’s customers with consumer segments via a social graph. Sound complicated? Not after you hear Honig present it, who also shares how social media impacts behavioral targeting.

Anna Papadopoulos: In the last few years we have experienced the phenomenon known as social media. It actually took off faster than the market was ready for it to. How do you see social behavior affecting marketing and media planning?

David Honig: This is just the beginning. The trend of social media adoption and integration into mainstream content sites is in its infancy. This trend is really bringing forward the promise of the Internet as an interactive or communication medium. As marketers, we have yet to truly understand this trend and truly paradigm-shift in consumer behavior. Before now, we applied old advertising and marketing models to social media. We now have to create new marketing and advertising models, technologies, and techniques to unlock the power of this medium. We are at the beginning of a revolution in advertising not seen since the advent of the TV.

AP: Should we be using social behavioral data in the research stage to understand our consumers and products?

DH: Absolutely, the sophisticated marketers are already experimenting with solutions in this space. Think about the powerful consumer insights that can be derived from social media activities. I believe that advertisers will start looking at their own data differently and start observing the source of their own social network and how their customer interacts in parts of the social graph. They will eventually realize that this is much more than an acquisition play; it’s about learning more about what their customers want. This may evolve into a very important CRM [define] play for many brands that will give them insight that they may not have today.

AP: What was your opinion of the Facebook Beacon situation? Did we overreact or under-react? What would you have done differently?

DH: Facebook had the courage to bring a new concept to market with Beacon. The concept of driving word of mouth or explicit recommendations through your friends is a great concept. I wrote about the Beacon program in 2007. The industry and consumer have spoken loudly about their tactical missteps that have pulled us back from the brink of innovation.

The most important thing that was overlooked was the backlash from Facebook users. The thought of them broadcasting what I purchased to my group would be acceptable in my book if they just did it in an anonymous fashion.

Facebook may have rushed into this to show us all that they can and will monetize effectively. Perhaps they should have allowed their users to opt in to this program in order to see the effectiveness and to understand how their own users would feel about this program. I am pretty sure they would have clearly seen this coming.

AP: We talk about brand evangelists in the social media space. How do we go about making them work on behalf of a client? What should we be leery of?

DH: Common thought in the industry is that there is a small group of brand evangelists that can influence your brand. I believe (and am not alone) that in today’s fragmented mass-customized world that every small group of friends have their own brand evangelists and that most of their purchase recommendations and brand conversations happen in these groups. It is quite simple: people tend to communicate via word of mouth and make similar [purchases] with those in their social groups. In this sense, brand communication is constantly occurring, and leveraging existing customers can represent a strong opportunity for brand advertisers. The hard part is identifying and communicating to these influential groups or communication circles at scale.

However, we should be leery of overly intrusive technologies and advertising. This is a natural process that works better when people share genuine, common interests. No one really likes to feel like they are being evangelized.

Next time: behavioral marketing’s role in social media.

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