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    Making dollars and sense


    aa22-jun-jul-2007-making-dollars-and-sense‘Social intelligence’ is bringing order to the chaos of the world wide web. As Liesl Capper reveals, there’s something in it for both users and brands.

    If you could use only one term to describe the internet, even after almost 20 years of rapid development, you could do a lot worse than ‘social anarchy’.
    Even as the internet has started to arrange itself along tribal lines, where people of like thinking gather together to share thoughts or undertake commerce, it’s a pretty unruly place. In terms of historical development, the internet is fairly much still in the Middle Ages. For every village of elegant Renaissance-style beauty there is a band of slavering Huns waiting outside the gates, ready to plunder and pillage.
    And depending on what degree of order makes you comfortable, you either rejoice in the freedom that anarchy brings, or lament that some of these online villages could benefit from the services of a good town planner. And that will always be the case where the users generate the content.
    Take the social network site MySpace as an example. The site is a phenomenon. More than 100 million users around the world use the MySpace village to meet friends, post their thoughts, gripe about life and share their favourite songs/photos/ videos/whatever. But by its very anarchic nature, the space is all over the place. It is discordant, disorderly, rowdy and wild. And, frankly, that’s why it is so successful. It has that X-factor that resonates with Generation Y. But MySpace is not a charity. How do you translate all those visitors from a myriad of places and backgrounds into a sustainable money-making concern? Just how do you create some order amid all that chaos?
    Advertising on the internet has promised so much for a long time but has a patchy record. Areas like paid-for search via Google or Yahoo are targeted by their nature and have been hugely successful. The user defines their interest by the search term, the ads are served up among the search results, buyer meets seller and nature takes its course. This is a basic Yellow Pages model. But with social networks, users’ interests are difficult to immediately pinpoint. Just because PoYntYBoY is a friend with niGHtstalker765 doesn’t mean they both need a low document home loan right now. Or want a free horoscope.
    With the content so anarchic, how do social networks go beyond the low margin ‘dollar a holler’ marketers and serve up quality prospects to brand advertisers who are willing to pay good premiums to communicate with their target audience? And at the same time not scare off fickle Gen Y by bombarding them with marketing bumf?
    One solution is Social Intelligence. Social Intelligence segments social network members by analysing their interactions with others. It is a combination of Social Sciences and Computational Intelligence. It is a unique approach, difficult to replicate and is highly effective. It allows a social network to deliver highly targeted messages, invitations or products to its users.
    Whether it be the content a user posts on their social network profile page, or the interactions they have with visitors or friends, sophisticated profiling techniques make it possible to parse content and isolate particular demographic groups. This will improve relevance for marketers and grow advertising margins. From the users’ perspective, more targeted messaging will help decrease spam and overcrowding of pages with advertisements, all of which make a social network vulnerable to users leaving for a competitor.
    Social Intelligence products make sense of messy user-generated content – by advanced psychographic profiling, intelligent search and automatic community formation – to unearth information that is not obvious or easy to find without human involvement. It allows owners of a social network to understand their users, manage them, target them and ultimately provide a better user experience and higher yields.
    This new revenue model, with higher margins, will open the door to other opportunities, such as direct selling of products and clipping the ticket, community seeding pay-per-lead and pay-per-engagement. And for users, Social Intelligence is a very effective human search engine; it helps users rapidly search through masses of profiles to find compatible people.
    So even in the hurly-burly of chaotic user-generated content, there may yet be a foundation of order and calm, which should satisfy the users of social networks, as well as those who stump up the millions of dollars required to keep them on the air.
    Liesl Capper is co-founder and CEO of RelevanceNow!, a leading provider of Social Intelligence products. She started three companies prior to launching RelevanceNow!, the most prominent being Mooter, an intuitive cluster-based online search engine.