Social Networks
Enabling the Market of Me
    The use of social networking sites         needs and behaviors of each individual
    such as Facebook ha...
Social networks as advertising              the member allows. This is a major            Compare this to what Facebook
Connecting to my connections                 Figure 1. Mapping behaviors between friends
A person is defined, in part, by ...
By looking at the way individuals respond
to information, marketers can develop
campaigns that target individuals and
Example 2: Personal placement               Figure 3. Overlaying personal media on products                         Figure...
The assumption is that the visitor has     Example 4: Personal influence             site. The site does not register the ...
This paper represents a perspective on     this rich, new set of data, the ability
the value of social networks an...
About Accenture                          To find out more, please contact:
Accenture is a global management
consulting, te...
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Accenture report: social networks enabling the market of me


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Social networking sites are extremely valuable to marketers—not so much in themselves but for the detailed information they can provide. Marketers in pursuit of high performance can use this information in a number of ways to create highly personalized experiences for their customers—true “markets of Me” in fact.

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Accenture report: social networks enabling the market of me

  1. 1. Social Networks Enabling the Market of Me
  2. 2. Introduction The use of social networking sites needs and behaviors of each individual such as Facebook has grown dramati- visitor. This vision is still difficult to cally over the last three years. As of achieve, in large part because websites March 2010, Facebook had over 400 still do not have direct access to the million members1, and Nielsen reports needs and off-site behaviors of the that the average American Facebook visitor. Web analytics and visitor pro- user spends 14 minutes a day on the filing have enabled a limited level of site2, dwarfing others like Google and personalization, but the available data Amazon. Facebook has essentially for each visitor is often limited to the become its own Internet, where people demographics associated with an IP communicate, watch videos, share address or search terms. Today’s “mar- photos and play games. Most inter- ket of someone” does not distinguish estingly, all of the members have rich an actual visitor; it only knows coarse personas attached to the site. They statistical data related to that visitor. visit as themselves, not as a credit card number or esoteric username. In this paper, we will explore some of The combination of rich personal the ways in which information derived details and frequent activity has the from social networks can be used to potential to create exciting new go beyond basic advertising, and opportunities, but businesses are still show how rich social networking in the early days of figuring out how information can be used to create a to leverage Facebook and similar “market of Me,” an experience that social channels. knows more about who I am and what I need in order to serve me better. On the “traditional” Web—the Web of retail storefronts and brand sites— 1 2 marketers are still struggling to create facebook-users-average-7-hrs-a-month-in- “markets of one”: highly personalized january-as-digital-universe-expands experiences that serve the specific 2 3
  3. 3. Social networks as advertising the member allows. This is a major Compare this to what Facebook platforms change, as members now have the knows about many of its members: With 400 million users spending a ability to transfer their personal data age, gender, marital status, hobbies considerable portion of their online to a site where they are in fact and more. The entire range of data time onsite, social networks would behaving as customers. also includes the visitor’s list of appear to be a marketer’s dream. The friends (and many of their attributes), sites themselves attract millions of Beyond display advertising: all of their photos and videos. This views per day and each viewer, being Connecting to “Me” tells us much more about the visitor, a member of the site, has a higher In December 2008, Facebook released through both explicit and implicit degree of personal data associated Facebook Connect, a mechanism that information. This degree of information, with him or her than a typical visitor websites can use to allow visitors to combined with inbound search terms to Google or other vendor sites. login using their Facebook credentials. and previous site history, gives us a Facebook exploits this information by For Facebook, this development is a much better view of the visitor’s letting advertisers choose targets win because it extends its influence intentions. based on gender, political views and beyond For users, it education level. can be seen as a way to eliminate the The completeness of this data is hassle of inputting the same information somewhat surprising. A sample of Despite this level of personalization, time and again. For retailers and Facebook profiles of all the friends of many advertisers are less than satisfied brand sites, this represents a significant 24 people within Accenture was studied. with the results of these campaigns. opportunity to harvest detailed cus- The 24 people yielded 4,341 friends There might be several reasons for tomer data. Because Facebook shares and of these people: this, but one should examine the a user’s entire profile with any site intentions of the average Facebook that the user has chosen to connect • 70 percent listed their gender. visitor. When people visit Facebook, with, the available data is very rich, • 70 percent listed their educational they do so to interact with friends, ranging from personal attributes to history. see what is new and consume content hobbies to the visitor’s entire network • 60 percent listed their age. that was created or curated by their of friends and acquaintances. To put • 50 percent listed their relationship network. In short, they are socializing, this into perspective, consider the status. not consuming in the traditional “detailed” visitor data typically available • 50 percent listed their work history. sense. An advertisement on a from website analytics tools. This • 30 percent listed their political The statistics on the previous page a gamer logs into some games information brings the website several Facebook page is as welcome as a data provides the visitor’s Internet affiliation. show that social networks are becoming through Facebook Connect, online steps closer to achieving the vision of billboard at a dinner party. service provider, the city and several • 30 percent listed their interests, storehouses of rich personal data. advertising can tap into photos and a “market of Me.” However, it is not properties of the Internet browser. favorite TV programs and music. However, there is another important data from the gamer's profile and enough to simply say that richer profile So, advertising on the social networks Using information such as location, phenomenon to consider: the fact weave them into the game animation. data fulfills that vision. There is much themselves can be of limited value. the website can often derive attributes This is a limited sample and does not that social networks are becoming The effect is that the user is a key more to “Me” than personal data. However, that does not mean that such as average income or degree of include the fact that the users named storehouses of rich personal media. part of the description of the game, social networking sites are of limited sophistication, but these attributes “John” who did not list a gender can Currently, millions of photos are which has a very chilling and memo- value to advertisers and retailers. One are very approximate. There are safely be assumed to be male, or that shared on Facebook every day, making rable effect. This is analogous to of the most important characteristics wealthy technology gurus and poor users younger than 18 likely do not it a larger photosharing site than product placement, where the prod- of social networks is that they serve teenagers both using Mac OS X in have a professional work history or most dedicated sites, such as Flickr. uct is woven into an experience that as a centralized identity management New York City. Buying behavior, are likely to be unmarried. In other Increasingly, users also upload video the viewer is interested in, in order to service for their users. For example, navigation and inbound search terms words, the data set, viewed analytically, and other forms of media. In an informal interest the viewer in the product. because of its role as a social enabler, all help to further define the user, but could potentially yield even more study, it was found that the 4,341 This ability to place the viewers them- Facebook profile information is generally the majority of the data is contextual information about any given user. users have a total of over 500,000 selves into the experience could be accurate. Our accounts on Facebook rather than personal. Based on this shared photos. Access to this media called “personal placement.” If done contain a wealth of data about us, information, the site knows where the opens new doors to marketers looking correctly, this creates a deep personal whereas an online merchant’s account visitor is coming from, but not who to give their customers highly person- attachment to the product, increasing contains only a credit card number, he or she is. alized experiences. the likelihood of a purchase. address and buying history. Social networks have leveraged this infor- For some classes of products and ser- A visitor who logs into a site using mation for years, but recently, networks vices, this has the potential to create social network credentials brings with like Facebook have started to make highly engaging experiences that help him a full dossier of personal infor- that data available to other sites if to build deeper personal connections mation that was not previously available with the product. For instance, when to the website. The quality of this 4 5
  4. 4. Connecting to my connections Figure 1. Mapping behaviors between friends A person is defined, in part, by who he knows and associates with. The Behavior “market of Me” must take that into Comments account—something it can do if it can use the data available from a visitor’s Friend Reviews social network profile. In addition to personal attributes, the profile contains a list of friends and a list of groups Visitor that each person belongs to. These represent social links that can be used to learn more about the visitor and to serve him better. Behavior A first-order connection is between friends. Once a website has access to Comments a visitor’s social-networking profile, it Reviews Friend gains information about a visitor’s friends. That information can be used to make inferences about the visitor. For example, a first-time visitor might be a complete mystery to the site in terms of buying habits, but the site can use the buying patterns of the visitor’s friends to begin inferring behavior. This is shown in Figure 1. Also, a “friend” can represent a highly valued or trusted connection. This relationship can be exploited to show trusted reviews and ratings to the Figure 2. Mapping behaviors between group members Each of these classes of connections Connecting to my influence The development and growth of social visitor, thereby relying on relationships represents an approach to learning Traditional forms of online marketing networks then opened up new possi- to increase interest and awareness of Behavior more about the user. In addition to focus on the ability for a banner ad or bilities for marketers. These networks a given product. Comments analysis and profiling, these connec- other online advertising to draw the give users an easy way to share product Member tions can be used to create more user to the site. In other words, this reviews and other media with their Reviews A second-order connection is valuable experiences for the user. The approach relies on the influence friends in a more casual way than via between the visitor and his groups. In exact form of these experiences will exerted by various mechanisms rather e-mail or other communication chan- some cases, the title of the group Visitor be highly dependent on the site, and than people. This is largely due to the nels. They also provide a mechanism may be enough to understand the Member we will demonstrate some examples fact that click-throughs are easy to for viral effects, as information Group social affinities of the visitor. In other later in the paper. capture, measure and analyze in a shared with one group of friends cases, the site may need to collect way that casual conversations are could spread when they share it with information about each visitor, relate Behavior These connections represent conduits not. That began to change with the their friends. Analyzing the spread of that information to the visitor’s Comments through which people communicate, advent of Web 2.0. New forms of these shared messages could provide groups, and begin to profile the group Behavior Member Reviews share status and influence each other’s social media gave rise to a number of a better understanding of the likelihood over time, as shown in Figure 2. Later Comments behavior. Influence is perhaps the methods for measuring the influence of a product inspiring a person to in this paper, we will show some Reviews most interesting aspect for marketers, of “buzz.” Marketers were now in a share it with friends, the reach of that examples of how one could use group and is worth examining separately. position to try to understand and share, the rate of conversion from affinities to better engage the customer. direct the influence of the crowd, but share to visit, and finally the rate of person-to-person influence was difficult conversion from visit to buy. to capture. 6 7
  5. 5. By looking at the way individuals respond to information, marketers can develop campaigns that target individuals and also ultimately aim to increase the buying behaviors of a larger population. On a product level, this type of analysis buying behaviors of a larger population. Example 1: Rich profiling and Imagine the following simple scenario. expensive and more powerful than Of course, these examples are only can help marketers understand how By looking at influence trends through site optimization Visitors to a retailer’s website are one that would be offered to a typical meant to illustrate the point that one new products and marketing messages a given group, the marketers can learn One of the advantages of rich profiling presented with a front page that graduate student. can gather rich data and inferences are spread through the digital space. how to cater to self-identified clusters data is the ability it gives to optimize presents a diverse set of products, simply by accessing the visitor’s social We express this in three Ss: Speed, of customers. a site for a specific visitor. This ranging from laptops to kitchen Another scenario might relate to a networking profile. In many cases, a Size and Spread, as defined below. approach enables the site to display a appliances, in hopes of appealing to a visitor for whom we have less detailed site optimization engine would have Visitors entering a site using their better choice from its catalog of random visitor’s tastes. This is, in part, information. We know that he is mar- this data, plus inbound search terms, • Speed: How quickly does the message social networking credentials share a products, promotions and messages because the retailer has no good way ried, and employed by a large services allowing even greater personalization. or product information spread to a great deal about themselves, their for the visitor, in order to drive sales. of asking visitors about their gender, company. We also know that he lives Finally, one should not forget the population of people? network and their ability to influence Today, this can be done by means of their income status, or their current in a relatively affluent area. However, advantages of very basic information. • Size: How many people have seen or that network. Each of these aspects, search terms, sparse demographic context. If visitors were able to log in we do not know his age: Is he a new For instance, many sites require some shared the message? when used separately or in combination, data or by analyzing previous visits. with their social networking informa- hire or a seasoned professional? In form of age verification. If the user is • Spread: How diverse is the group of provide marketers with new options The first two methods do not provide tion, the retailer could gain access to this case the retailer can rely on his the right age, this step is tedious and people that has seen the message? for both engaging and understanding much insight into the actual user. The this information and create advertising affiliations. In addition to his profes- feels unnecessary. For the younger For instance, a message that is seen their customers. We will explore four third method can be quite effective according to certain tastes. Say the sional affiliation, he may be a member user, this step is easily bypassed with by 200 men might be less beneficial prototypes that Accenture is building (for instance, for vendors like Amazon), visitor is a graduate student at a of an alumni group whose members false data. The ability to simply read than a message seen by 100 men and to demonstrate the potential benefits but it does not work well for low- prestigious school. He is also older all fall within a narrow age range, the age from the social networking 100 women. The spread metric in using social network data outside volume sites or infrequent visits. As than other graduate students and leading us to infer his age. Based on profile creates a better experience for reports this kind of information. of the social networking site. It is previously stated, social networking married. His work history includes all of these factors, the retailer might the target audience, and a more diffi- worth noting that users of Facebook data provides an excellent starting time spent in a number of large busi- choose to show him kitchen upgrades, cult experience for the others. This is On a personal level, such information personal data should only use it in point for customer profiling and site nesses, from which we can infer that based on the assumption that he has just one example of low-hanging fruit allows marketers to understand the compliance with all applicable laws optimization. this is a professional person who has a relatively high income and familial easily plucked when social data can influence of individuals or groups. By and should consult their legal counsel returned to school to get a higher obligations. be accessed. looking at the way individuals respond for guidance should they have questions. degree. Based on this, the site shows to information, marketers can develop him a laptop, but one that is more campaigns that target individuals and also ultimately aim to increase the 8 9
  6. 6. Example 2: Personal placement Figure 3. Overlaying personal media on products Figure 5. Ordering reviews based on social relationships Figure 3 shows personal placement and the role it can play in selling products as well as the overall effect it can have on the visitor’s experience. A visitor to a product site is presented with photos of TVs, cell phones and other devices. When applicable, the site gathers photos and video from the visitor’s social profile and overlays the media on the screen on the device. The effect of this is to create a deeper Source: Accenture sense of personal attachment to the product. This approach is not limited to enhancing products with screens. For instance, marketing for phone plans with your “circle of friends” Source: Accenture could use pictures of real friends, and images of home furnishings could include subtle family portraits in the background of the scene. Marketing for MP3 players and related products could include only the album covers of the bands listed in your favorite music. With more advanced image searching and face recognition, one can imagine the ability to see sunglasses as they would look on the visitor. Figure 4. Automatically generated prank video, using a visitor's name These are just a few examples of small number of reviews, it’s important Even in a case where the reviewers personal placement. The specifics of to ensure that the customers see the have identities, the chances of a given Finally, one can imagine personal any given implementation are highly best reviews. By relying on the product being reviewed by a friend placement approaches that do not dependent on the product and the customers themselves to rate reviews, are relatively low. Social data tries to directly involve the product. Figure 4 desired marketing message. However, Amazon created a simple yet effective solve these problems by giving everyone shows a screenshot of a video generated integrating the user into the message method for elevating helpful reviews a consistent identity and by maintaining by an Internet humor site. This video will tend to create a deeper sense of to the first page. A simple yes/no groups and networks between those was generated automatically, based attachment and awareness and thus question has a big financial benefit. people, which represent some form of on a person’s name. It is a two-minute drive higher sales. trust. Figure 5 shows one example of video of a fictitious newscast which However, if we begin with the this. The figure depicts a set of describes the public suddenly backing Example 3: Group influence assumption that we have richer personal reviews that can be ordered to show an unknown candidate for president. optimization data, we might begin to extend this reviews by the visitor’s friends, people This does not rely on a direct overlay It can be easy to underestimate the idea by asking “To whom was it help- of the same demographic categories of media and product, but does have value of social instruments such as ful?” or “Do I trust the people who as the visitor, or members of his or the personal placement effect. A reviews and recommendations. A trusted these reviews?” or simply “Do her professional or social networks. well-crafted viral video that uses this recent article estimates that Amazon I trust the reviewers themselves?” In approach would likely be more popular reaps some $2.7 billion worth of a world where everyone has a different than a general video, unless the gimmick annual revenue thanks to the power identifier for each site, that last question became overused. of its “Was this review helpful to you?” becomes very difficult to answer. feature.3 The reason for this is simple. Amazon’s customers often rely on reviews to help with their purchasing 3. User Interface Engineering, “The Magic Behind Amazon's 2.7 Billion Dollar Question,” by Jared M. Source: Accenture decisions. When a page can only fit a Spool, March 17, 2009 10 11
  7. 7. The assumption is that the visitor has Example 4: Personal influence site. The site does not register the act behavior of a given user, the influence customer. This new form of analysis different levels of trust in each of tracking of sharing. Even those sites, such as that he or she has on others, and the opens the door for content personal- these groups. For instance, senior citi- The previous examples show how YouTube, that support the sharing of speed, size, and spread of a shared ization to optimize outcomes across a zens might want to know what other social information is useful outside of media lack visibility of the rest of the message. By applying this to a greater given population, relying on the people in their age group thought. the social networking site. However, sharing cycle. If person A shares a number of items, beyond videos and influence of individuals to propagate Business professionals might not care many of the ways that users influence video on YouTube, and person B clicks news clippings, we will be able craft a message or product. what other people in a given age each other’s buying decisions are on it, YouTube does not see that B has site presentation and promotions group think, but might trust business through the social networking site been influenced by A. based on the likelihood of a given colleagues. itself, in the form of messages, com- user spreading the product to the ments and shared links. In this last While sites like Facebook make it very best set of potential buyers. A final sorting mechanism was example, we will look at the value of difficult to get full visibility into how Historically, the focus has been on offered, “popular people.” For some tracking the linkages from the vendor information is shared, Accenture has content personalization for a given products and some target audiences, site to the networking site and designed technical approaches to this might be a very interesting metric, back again. record when someone has shared an as people try to select products that item, when that link is followed, and will make them “popular” in some Today, if a user reads information when a third person re-shares a way. Popularity itself could be measured about a forthcoming concert on a shared link with friends. This will in several different ways, ranging site, he or she can share that infor- allow us to analyze the sharing from the number of friends, to the mation with friends via e-mail—but number of photos tagged with the this contact happens outside of the person’s name, to deeper measures of influence and connectivity. 12 13
  8. 8. Summary This paper represents a perspective on this rich, new set of data, the ability the value of social networks and their to target the individual needs of a data, as they relate to marketing and particular visitor grows considerably. customer experience—and thus the When one has access to My data, role they can play in helping companies My media, My connections, and My reach for high performance through influence, one can truly create a better customer service and relationship “market of Me,” where the market is management. Similar observations customized to my needs and enhanced and examples could be cited for the by my actions. role of this data in e-government, enterprise collaboration or other areas. While there are many avenues left to explore, the main point of these examples is to show how marketers can shift the focus from the social networks to the data that they provide. When one has access to 14 15
  9. 9. About Accenture To find out more, please contact: Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and Kelly Dempski outsourcing company, with more than 181,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries. Combining unpar- Alex Naressi alleled experience, comprehensive capabilities across all industries and business functions, and extensive research on the world’s most success- ful companies, Accenture collaborates with clients to help them become high-performance businesses and governments. The company generated net revenues of US $21.58 billion for the fiscal year ended August 31, 2009. Its home page is Copyright © 2010 Accenture All rights reserved. Accenture, its logo, and High Performance Delivered are trademarks of Accenture. This document makes reference to trademarks that may be owned by others. The use of such trademarks herein is not an assertion of owner- ship of such trademarks by Accenture and is not intended to represent or imply the existence of an association between Accenture and the lawful owners of such trademarks.