The year of shared interests – the good, the bad and the ugly
Initially, early social networks (including Facebook and LinkedIn) revolved around connecting people via their ‘social graphs’. 2011′s winners were platforms and ideas originating from, supporting, and at times enabling, the formation of relationships around shared ‘interests’. This makes perfect sense, for it is less important how you know someone than how relevant this person is to the conversation.
The wide spread conversations on the Japanese earthquake, the Royal Wedding or the protests in Egypt and Occupy Wall Street did not revolve around people ‘knowing’ each other per se, but on the shared ‘interest’ people had in the events. The London riots did not spread via actual relationships between the different groups and individuals but around a (foul) concept. Yes – human interests, just like marketing communications that leverage social media, contain the good, the bad and the ugly.
Social media allows individuals to group around shared interests. Twitter and Google+ were both formed on this paradigm and both Facebook’s latest changes and LinkedIn’s new features showed they too have understood that we shifted a gear. Groupon, Tumblr, Stumbleupon and Pinterest are all about grouping around shared interests.
Nike continues to connect people practicing one of the most individual sports (jogging) around their shared passion. Tiffany & Co’s ‘World’s most romantic places’ meanwhile, revolves around people’s interest in finding perfect spots for romantic occasions and HP tied its offering to people’s interest in launching wishes for the new year.
Finally, and brilliantly, Footlocker created ‘Sneakerpedia’, a Wikipedia-like visual database created by trainer lovers everywhere to showcase every running shoe bought and cherished.
On the flip side, understanding what it is people are interested in must be married with an appreciation for timeliness and relevance as well. Getting those ingredients wrong can be damaging as Australian Airline Qantas seemingly found to their cost; choosing to launch a Twitter campaign promoting its luxury service at a time when its customers were still seething, and far more interested in complaining about a recent grounding of the fleet as a result of the airline’s dispute with its unions.
2011 showed us once more that social graph and connections are one thing. But there’s still no substitute for relevance and tapping into people’s interests and passions that match most closely with the brand’s identity, business and when they have something compelling to bring to the table.
Guy Kedar, social media and emerging platforms manager, MEC Global Solutions
Read the full report here.