Why Online Businesses are Moving from the ‘Social Graph’ to the ‘Interest Graph’

David Amerland
David Amerland owner/founder, DavidAmerland.com

Posted on February 24th 2012

Why Online Businesses are Moving from the ‘Social Graph’ to the ‘Interest Graph’

In my latest book, The Social Media Mind there is a chapter where I examine the importance of the Interest Graph versus that of the Social Graph and explain how the latter is of far greater value to companies, marketers and advertisers than the former.

The message that the shift I highlighted is beginning to make itself felt is signalled by the abandonment of Facebook Stores by companies as large as Gap, J.C. Penney, Nordstrom and GameStop. At the beginning of the year I drew attention to the fact that consumer studies showed there was a significant trust issues with Facebook Stores. A new report, published by Bloomberg reveals that conversion of fans to shoppers in the Facebook environment has been less than encouraging.

Gamestop, mentioned as an example, failed to gain enough traction to justify the expenditure in effort, energy and cost of its Facebook Store despite that fact that its fan page, over 3.5 million strong, had, on paper, made the move to set one up, a projected win for the company.

The reason for failures such as this may lie in the fact that the Facebook environment does not yet generate sufficient trust to support F-Commerce (as Facebook Commerce has been called) but the real culprit lies elsewhere and it has everything to do with how consumers use social networks in the first place.

As we get past the ‘shining new toy’ moment where all a network has to do is appear online and generate sufficient buzz and a fresh way of interacting, time spent in each is guided by what we like and who we know. Facebook uniquely positioned itself in the online world as the place people go to meet, online, people they already know and this now is becoming an obstacle to its expansion. If we think of Facebook as the world’s largest watering hole it is easy to see why when we are there, hanging out with our buddies, we might be resistant to a guy walking in wanting to sell us something.

This fine distinction also quantifies the difference between the social graph (which defines who we know and interact with) and the interest graph (which defines what we like and, more importantly, what we are most likely to buy). It is exactly the reason Facebook, with hundreds of millions of members, is delivering a lot less return on investment (ROI) for retailers than Pinterest whose membership base barely breaks the 11 million mark.

As social media expands further and becomes more fragmented it is the interest graph that should guide retailers and marketers rather than the social one. After all, we never buy anything just because some friends we knew from school bought it too, but the mere recommendation of people we regard as authority on a subject we are intensely interested in, is received, practically, as gospel.  

David Amerland

David Amerland

owner/founder, DavidAmerland.com

David Amerland is the author of seven best-selling books including "Google Semantic Search: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Techniques That Gets Your Company More Traffic, Increases Brand Impact and Amplifies Your Online Presence" and "Google+ Hangouts for Business: How to use Google+ Hangouts to Improve Brand Impact, Build Business and Communicate in Real-Time."

He helps multi-national clients and start-ups to organize their SEO and Social Media strategies. He is a business journalist, author and international speaker. He blogs about social media and search engine optimization, writes for a number of prominent websites including Forbes, and advises a handful of corporations on their social media crisis management techniques.

His books on SEO and Social Media demystify the complexity of the subjects they cover for readers around the world providing an accessible blueprint to better understand and take advantage of the opportunities offered by the connected economy. Follow him on @DavidAmerland. or find him on G+

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Posted on February 25th 2012 at 4:21PM

You can't judge a medium by the results of one company. GameStop has a young demographic. FB may not be their platform.

Each business must first determine who their target market is and then figure out where they hang out. Otherwise, yes, you'll waste time, funds and energy marketing to the wrong people.

I explain the steps in adding Socaial Media in this blog post: http://giselleaguiar.com/socialmedia/blog/1-steps-in-a-social-media-mark...

then you have this positive story about Guitar Center from Marketing Sherpa:


The same rules of marketing apply to the social media world: know your target market.

Giselle Aguiar