Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Social Profiling

Thanks to the Internet, marketers are now conducting archeological digs known as social profiling to get closer to their customers.

Read On:
This is an exciting time to be a marketer. For starters, there is the daily challenge of keeping up with the evolving world of social media. Now, due to the collective intelligence gathered by search outlets and the rise in social network management tools, targeting potential customers is morphing. Demographics, the statistical characteristics of a population (e.g., gender, age, race, education, income, etc.) will no longer have the former relevancy as marketers determine their target market. Instead, marketers are beginning to examine multiple data points known as psychographics.

One critical component of psychographics is social profile data, the information gathered from the numerous social networks we navigate. Tools have been developed to fine tune a consumers’ preferences. Instead of being dropped into the classic demographic bucket of a Mom, age 25-34, college education with a household income of $75k, marketers now overlay psychographic information. New data points: personal interests (e.g., running, yoga, sewing), monthly online purchasing behavior, social class based on purchase behavior (e.g., cars, travel, food & beverage), etc. Sounds confusing? Now throw into the mix how the data can be mined to predict a customer’s lifecycle. Using the above Mom example, marketers will know the exact ages of her children so they can connect when she is ready to buy something like a Nod chair for her three year old or diapers for her two month old baby. Marketers now utilize algorithms to build a closer understanding, better relationship with their customers.

Key Implication: Fragmentation is now the norm. Consequently marketers will need to develop multiple positioning statements. A good example would be cars. Some consumers will view a luxury car for prestige and status, while other potential buyers will buy the car strictly for its interior space for comfort. Social profiling tools will help marketers reach their finite targets.

Can you identify your social profile?


  1. The use of complex algorithms in media planning is nothing new. Nor is the deployment of psychographic profiling. All of this is the application of classical direct marketing techniques. With online advertising permitting INSTANT feedback as to whether an ad has produced a sale, or a 'view' or just was a dud, the comparison to an earlier time of static print or even broadcast advertising is moot. In effect, every online ad is the equivalent to dropping a direct mail package. The difference is that we took weeks to know which DM pitch was best, while now we know in milliseconds if our online pitch was on point. I understand that our smartest mathmatics graduates no longer gravitate to science, or even to the arcane world of high frequency stock trading--but now are at Google and FaceBook helping to sell toothpaste. I suppose that is progress.

  2. It is definitely a dynamic and interesting time for Marketing. The only thing I wouldn't recommend is multiple positioning statements. Tends to water down effectiveness. What I would do is have one solid differentiation strategy but execute the message to fit differing targets.

  3. Well written, interesting post, Jimmy. I see both sides of the comments above (WK and Jackie), but lean toward Jackie's comment that consistent differentiation is the key.

  4. Interesting comments, thank you. Jackie you make a good point re: differtiation. I am classcially trained so I always firmly believed in one positioning statement. Then I began to see the need for different statements with only the target audience changing. I my industry, commercial vs. non-commercial operators. Now I am beginning to experiement with changing the point of difference. Just a new thought, that is why I used cars as a example. Luxury has multiple point of differences to me now. What do you think?