Update: May 27th 2013 Over a year later, the technology is starting to emerge for facial recognition and APIs.
Ready or not, new technologies will enable strangers to know your social scores even before you shake their hand.
Whether it’s on a job interview, before a meeting, a first date, and as you walk into a store, more disruptive technologies are on the horizon that will enable social data to be easily accessed and viewable in real world situations. Profiling, which has negative connotations in terms of race, law enforcement, and beyond, is commonly used by marketers (and humans sub-consciously) to sort people around us. Yet in our digital and social world, this same profiling technique will be applied to today’s modern world. In fact, this recent story from Wired shows how an unlucky marketer was unable to land a job due to having a low Klout score.
This simulated image illustrates how Google Googles could allow us to easily profile who has the most social capital –without them even knowing.
‘Social Profiling’ Defined, and the Technologies That Will Fuel It
What’s Social Profiling? Digital technologies that enable social data to easily be referenced in public by others using mobile, AR, or other technologies. New technologies are emerging that allow us to overlay digital content on top of the real world, called Augmented Reality, we’re expecting Google to launch their Google Goggles “Project Glass” this summer. Additionally, it’s expected that Apple’s next iPhone will have facial recognition features that will enable us to identify people, and it’s assumed we’ll be able to quickly pull digital content about them.
Don’t Overly Rely on Social Scores –Understand True Influence
Logic tells us that new mobile applications will emerge that will allow digital content about us, in fact, we should expect apps to emerge that instantly allow us to tell one’s Twitter follower count, Klout score, and Facebook fans. But before we jump to conclusions on how this could help us identify ‘influencers’ take Altimeter’s guidance in understanding that these tools don’t fully tell the whole story. In fact, you should first read my colleague Brian Solis’ report on digital influence, which shows why social scores are not telling the full story, as well as see his presentation he gave on this topic.
Social Profiling Will Impact Society, Business, and You.
We should expect that social profiling technologies and techniques will impact us in at least three ways:
1) Digital ‘influence’ scores will emerge in the public real world –like it not. The social dynamics of determining who a dominant member of society could change. The largest male, the richest female, may now rival that of the most ‘influential’ person in the room –and everyone will know it quickly. As a result, a new pecking order in business could emerge that breaks corporate hierarchy, wealth, or attractiveness.
2) Marketers will use this to prioritize and reward influencers. Brands have been attracted to influencers for decades, and now they’ve new tools to segment. Hotels like the Palms are already prioritizing guests with high Klout scores to receive special treatment, this will now cascade to hospitality, retail, and more. Expect those with higher scores to be offered special treatment (here’s a breakdown of how it will happen), whether they take the offers or not.
3) New business models will emerge to offer ‘digital grooming”. Like personal grooming in the bathroom, we’ll now have to prepare for our own digital grooming as we venture into the real world. Expect a new form of digital consultant to emerge that will help professionals manage, prune, and improve their digital self, much how image consultants assist those who want to appear their best.
Get ready for this new world where our digital lives will now be easily displayed around us in the physical world, forever changing the social dynamic in which we play, work, and love.
Update: Jason Falls, respected thought leader, likens Social Profiling to a new form of racism is this counter post.
Altimeter Groups’s latest Open Research report (available on creative commons for you to download, use, and share) is now available from analyst Brian Solis. This report, which challenges the way that companies measure influence points out how tools like Klout, Kred, Empire Avenue and beyond.
[Physics Measures Both Potential and Kinetic Energy. Similarly, Digital Influence must measure Both Social Capital (Potential) as well as Actual Influence (Kinetic)]
In fact, companies are quick to add influence metrics into their social support systems, and marketing prioritization despite having full understanding of how these measurement tools actually create their indexes. This report, written as a playbook for businesses focuses on how to benefit from desirable effects and outcomes through social media influence. The report also helps consumers and academics understand how influence is scored and how these scores affect online reputations.
Open Research Highlights:
We practice Open Research, and hope you use it, share it, which enables us to create more. Here’s some key insights from the report, that drew my attention.
- Influence is largely misunderstood, in fact the report makes a nod that these tools like Klout, Kred actually measure social capital — not your influence but instead, your potential for it.
- None of the vendor services evaluated in the report measure true influence. Today’s software algorithms track social capital and topical authority based on online activity
- The report helps companies understand how influence spreads, and includes case studies in which brands partnered with vendors to recruit connected consumers for digital influence campaigns.
- The report evaluates 14 Influence vendors, organizing them by Reach, Resonance, and Relevance: the Three Pillars that make up the foundation for Digital Influence as defined in the report – not every service is designed to provide a total solution for every business need.
- The report includes an Influence Framework and an Influence Action Plan to help brands identify connected consumers and to define and measure strategic digital influence initiatives.
The report demonstrates a path how businesses should properly measure the impact of influence –not just look at an index number. Note how the further to the right, it actually demonstrates the outcome of the influencer, their network, and what actually happened.
Above is a sample: Dive into report to see feature comparison of all vendors, which breaks down feature comparison by: Score, Reach, Influencer Relationship Management, and beyond.
I’ll cross-link to thoughtful discussions reviewing the report below
Learn about Altimeter’s three business disruption themes and upcoming report agenda to learn how our research will the industry forward.
Edit: I updated the post to include the phrase about potential and kinetic energy based of a conversation with Richard at Dell.
Case Study: An Influential Mom Blogger Caused Mainstream Crises
Popular blogger, Heather Armstrong (@dooce) was dissatisfied with her non-working Maytag appliance. Following protocol, she called their support number, yet her issue was not solved. Stonewalled, she argued/warned the support staff that she was on Twitter, yet didn’t receive special assistance. Escalating further, she then flexed a muscle and told them she had over 1,000,000 Twitter followers –yet the support rep did not budge. Finally, she blogged and Tweeted against Maytag, initiating a boycott by her followers, “DO NOT BUY MAYTAG” and continues to chronicle her experience on her blog. While critics suggest she wielded her power with irresponsibility, the point is moot, what matters is her social influence was not factored into the support triage decision making process –making a minor support issue a PR issue now on Forbes.
Just as companies factor in value of a customers celebrity status, buying power or customer loyalty –companies must factor in social influence or put themselves at risk. That’s right, customers with more Twitter followers are more likely to get better service and support than those that don’t.
Trend: Consumers Becoming Influential Using Social Technologies
- Companies Already Give Preferential Treatment To Famous and Wealthy Customers. Companies have given high influence customers preference for years. Take for example, shopping malls in the Los Angeles area have private entry ways for celebrities to enter the mall and receive priorty treatment. Or, how B2B companies cater to their top customers with special event days, golf outings, or other clients with deep pockets. Companies know that not all customers are valued the same, and as a result, treat them differently.
- With More Consumers Adoption Social Technologies, the Problem Will Get Worse. The tide is rising, in fact with more consumers adopting social technologies, the amount of voices that companies will need to deal with will increase in volume. Treating each customer with the best possible service and support (Like Zappos unique culture) is ideal –but not realistic. Companies are ill-equipped to support millions of customers in real time on the social web. They must have prioritization programs in place to handle the high risk/opportunity accounts quickly.
- Companies Who Don’t Factor In Influence Put Themselves at Risk. Companies can choose to not factor in the social influence of customers, but will be putting themselves at risk. It’s just a matter of time before a company has a social blowup, and by not trying to handle priority customers could cause a small issue to quickly escalate into a larger one. Also, savvy competitors who factor in social influence can swoop and acquire high influence customers from companies that don’t. Your goal, is to stay off this list.
Matrix: The Four Phases How Companies Factor Social Influence
|Do not factor in social influence
||Companies treat all customers the same, regardless of number of readers, followers or social influence.
||It’s cheap, companies don’t have to spend resources to understand if a single customer can influence others.
||Run the risk of not prioritzing a customer that could influence others, resulting in missed opportunity or greater PR risk.
||Companies factor in social influence as it surfaces, such as a customer explicitly staying their influence, or a service member proactively having to find it.
||Companies don’t have to invest in a program or system that tries to calculate this influence.
||May miss opportunities of serviing a high influence customer, or may not realize a potential social crises till it’s too late.
||Companies factor in total number of Facebook book friends and activity, number of Twitter followers and assign a raw number.
||Easy to calculate, and expect future Social CRM tools to do this with ease in the future.
||Data may not be accurate: Numbers can be manipulated and gamed, resulting in companies misallocate resources. Risk of alienating consumers without social influence.
||Companies factor in the true influence a customer has over their actual market –ignoring factors that may not be relevant.
||Finally, companies can focus on those customer with social influence that impact other prospects and buyers in their specific market
||Such a program is hard to setup and costly, and will require constant inputs and tuning. Risk of alienating consumers without social influence.
Companies Must Factor In Social Influence
- Recalculate The Customer Lifetime Value Quotient. For years, companies have factored in the total value of customers over their entire lifetime, Stanford has methods to calculate this called the Customer Lifetime Value formula. These formulas factored in ability to be a repeat buyer, income level, and size of purchases over time. Just as companies spend more time with customers with deeper pockets, they should also spend the appropriate type of attention with followers that don’t.
- Yet Recognize, that Not All Social Influence Is the Same. To be efficient, companies shouldn’t reward those with spammy followers they got from an overnight follow script, but recognize that influence isn’t always about quantity, recognize there are at least two types of social influence: The first, absolute influence is the total size of the individuals influence. Take Scoble for example, who has over a 100,000 Twitter followers and probally 100k subscribed to his blog is influential in a broad market. However, his relative influence within the high-end fashion market is low. D&G must factor in both types of influence in understanding how to deal with customers, therefore while Scoble’s absolute influence is high, his relative influence to the fashion market is low.
- Expect New Technologies To Address This Problem. We’re seeing a whole group of companies emerge in the Social CRM space that are trying to address parts of these problems. Eventually, we should expect CRM systems to automatically indicate to customer facing employees the level of influence customers have. In the most radical future, customers may choose to broadcast their preferences to retail stores before the walk in based on preferences and past purchases in order to receive a better experience. If this happens, companies can match with their social influence, and treat them accordingly.
I look forward to hear from you: have companies treated you differently because of your social influence? What companies are doing this now? What are the risks of doing it or not factoring in social influence?