GUEST POST: Social Networks – Are You Better Defined by Who You Know or What You Like? The Personal Graph vs the Interest Graph.

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To anticipate where social networks are going you need to look at how people use them and what drivers keep them engaged. Almost all social networks align under two graphs: the personal graph and the interest graph. These two graphs are not mutually exclusive. Social networks have created functions that bring out these graphs in different ways.

Take a look how today’s most popular social networks align with what your connections are based on and what information you talk about most. You’ll start to see who you know matters, but what you are interested in matters more.

Facebook: Personal (Your connections are people you know, you talk about personal and interests. Functions such as Facebook Subscribe are bringing more Interests into the platform. Expect Facebook to leverage the Interest graph more moving forward.)

Twitter: Interest (You do follow people you know, but a majority of most people you follow tend to be those you don’t know or don’t know well and you align with them based on common interests.)

LinkedIn: Personal (Your connections are people you know, functions such as Groups help you align based on Interests, but for most part this has not become a frequently used feature. People join groups, but most are not active in them.)

Google+: Personal & Interest (The way Google+ has set up Circles it makes it easy for people to align based on who you know and what you like. It is the task of Google+ to increase adoption and foster usage that supports both.)

Pinterest: Interest (I mean Interest is in the name! People are connecting a lot with people they know, but most of the pinning involves Interest.)

From this review you’ll notice that social networks are moving to better align with your Interest graph, because in the long run it is the Interest graph that is going to create more engagement. You might care what is going on with your friends for a minute, but you will talk for hours about items that fit within your Interest graph.

The success of Pinterest illustrates that when you create a simple function that allows people to explore (discover) and share their interests, you have a powerful network. Now, for long-term staying power you have to mesh the Interest graph with some type of a Personal graph. It may be sharing common interests with your friends or sharing common interests with complete strangers (some of who will undoubtedly become friends because of shared interests).

As a social marketer Personal and Interests graphs can help you navigate where to invest your time and what content to develop. Focus on what your target market is interested in, where they are talking about it and you’ll be off to a good start with your social media marketing.


Jamie Duklas leads the Social Media division at Booyah Online Advertising working with clients Vail Resorts, Fiji Water, Inspirato and many others. He is on the board for the Social Media Club – Mile High Chapter and serves as a guest lecturer and frequent conference speaker. Previous to Booyah Mr. Duklas led social media strategy for a Fortune 100 company and served as Director of Marketing for a social network start-up. Jamie has an MBA in Marketing from the University of Denver and a BA in Communications from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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