The Social Graph and How It’s Influencing Brand Decisions

Pulling information off of social media is giving marketers and brands new information to better connect with their customers and improve their products. Using the social graph, we can see who’s connected to whom and how these relationships spread information. Now, many are turning from the social graph to a taste graph. In fact, Facebook’s move to timeline is a move from a social graph (who you know) to a taste graph (what you like).

Many fashion brands are now using the taste graph to find out what their customers like and using that information to adjust the product mix they’re offering.  This is done by watching the trends that consumers put into new social media sites such as Pinterest, where they pull together pin boards on fashion looks they like. Consumers are also using new social shopping sites like Lyst, which saw an 800% increase in the first 3 months after introducing a personal taste feature. These too are being monitored.

Monitoring trends and making real time shifts

Large retailers like the Gap have people monitoring trends on social sites like this 24/7 to adjust their product mix in real time.  It’s one way that social media and the web are providing low cost, effective research. Companies are using what they find from this social taste graph to make informed decisions about future product development, merchandising and how they market.  Using the taste graph, they can see what’s resonating with their customers and decide what to put resources against. 

These curation and social shopping sites have become popular with consumers because it gives them a chance to take all the oversaturation of choices out there and pull together their own little view of what’s going on in the marketplace. And since brands are now listening to these customers, customers have each become taste-makers in their own rights. With the social tools available, it’s easy for people to publish their own thoughts and get their tastes out there for their communities (and brands) to see.

Customizing the shopping experience

Companies who sell products through eCommerce can use what they learn from these taste graphs to customize the shopping experiences for their consumers. Social shopping is really a serendipitous experience. In the course of shopping for something people usually discover other things. If you can create a social program using what you’ve learned through the taste graph, you can help them find what they want and buy it. You can then measure the results of these programs and adjust them as you go, making them more relevant to your market.

Pinterest and Lyst are just a sampling of these kinds of sites. There is a whole crop of them popping up, and more are surely coming as each finds its own little niche.  The key for marketers is to find out which ones their consumers are using and become active in them. You can customize experiences and interact with the taste-makers who wield influence in much smaller circles, but ones that are very connected. And you can aggregate that data to see what trends affect your business.  

So, have you seen companies using the taste graph effectively? I work with furniture retailers who could benefit from this kind of intel and will have to look into it for them. How can you use it for your company or clients? I’d love to compare notes. 

Image Credit: Dabblelicious