Some questions about who you are, are becoming more and more pertinent in recent times. With Facebook’s Graph announcement, the talk of a "social identity" has come to the fore. It’s not who you know, it’s what they let you know. This is certainly the case with e-commerce.
Facebook’s Graph search can be used to find the needle in a haystack – someone who likes geckos for example amongst the hordes of dog and cat people.
In the enterprise social software industry, we see great potential for enterprises to use this technology to deliver personal customer experiences based on information people are voluntarily sharing on Facebook. Companies are already engaging with customers on their websites and now have an opportunity to tailor offers directly to their Facebook Fans, enabling them to cater to customers' needs.
This taps into public content approved by the user and can be customised in a way that means advertisements are no longer pop-up annoyances, but offerings that genuinely match your interests. This way, a 25 year old football fanatic won’t be inundated with messages offering him the latest rugby kit for a team he’s never heard of, but can make the most of being the first to hear directly about match ticket promotions and new merchandise for his team.
This is all about the customer. If they have a strong online identity, making their likes and dislikes are well-known and posting frequently about their interests, they will see a real impact in the focus of the advertisements brought to them on the page.
This could have a snowball effect, as the improvement in the resulting shopping experience could encourage people to go further in building out their online identity: if there is a purpose to sharing your tastes and interests online with the wider public over and beyond simply having other fans of your favourite band occasionally ‘poke’ you, you’ll be more inclined to actively cultivate this persona because you’ll reap rewards as a result.
A recent report from the UK Government Office for Science discussed the importance of online data, how it is shifting the idea of identity in the UK and how it will continue to do so over the next ten years. The report states that there is now a blurring of public and private identities due to more people opening up on social networking sites.
While many people are greeting this with a sense of trepidation, there are many who recognise that this can be put to everyone’s advantage. The important thing to remember is that it is the choice of the customer to share what they are comfortable sharing and exploit the benefits of having an online persona. If they feel no urge to do this, they are under no obligation.
Looking after customers is, and always will be, the most important part of a business. Online personas may seem a startling innovation of the new digital age, but embracing the evolution of social media identities is the key to achieving what we all want: an improved customer experience..
Nikhil Govindaraj is the, VP Products at Moxie Software. He's particularly proud of Moxie's Engage+ App for Facebook, a recent addition to the company's portfolio.