Social graph analysis improves consumer research

This blog post comes to you live from ad:tech Chicago 2009.  On September 1, my Razorfish colleague Andrea Harrison challenges marketers to understand consumers in context of their social behaviors — known as social graph analysis.  It’s an important topic that leads to better customer insights.

Andrea asserts that traditional forms of understanding consumers, such as market segmentation and personas, are useful but not adequate consumer research tools.  This is where the social graph comes into play — defined as a network of personal connections through which people communicate and share information online.

So how do you build a social graph?  Part of the answer is to study consumers in context of the platforms they use (e.g., Facebook) and the people — both known and anonymous — to whom your customer is connected.  From there, social graph analysis becomes a matter of seeing how peers influence your customer.  She shares how a social graph map can help you understand the flow of influence, or where social interactions are occurring for your customers and who is really influencing your customer.

Example: Razorfish needed to help a client understand how teen girls interact with digital.  The Razorfish team hung out with the client’s audience as they interacted with groups of friends.  Seeing how the teen girls interact with their friends (the flow of influence) helped Razorfish gain better insights into how the client’s customers (teen girls) interact with digital.

The social graph does not require a re-do of your consumer research approaches.  For example, if you rely heavily on customer interviews to gain insights, then find consumers who matches your target audience.  Ask them to bring their influencers with them to an interview.

Social graph analysis: not a radical transformation of consumer research techniques, but a better way.

This blog coverage barely scratches the surface of Andrea’s insights.  I encourage you to contact Andrea directly on Twitter @190east or via

4 thoughts on “Social graph analysis improves consumer research

  1. Pingback: Twitter Trackbacks for Superhype » Blog Archive » Social graph analysis improves consumer research [] on

  2. This is actually very fascinating. It\’s always been well known that positive \”word of mouth\” is one of the best ways for a company to maintain market share as well as increase it.

    However, thanks to modern technology and being able to create a social graph, you can actually track \”the word of mouth.\” Who would have ever thought that by tracking your customers or potential customers \”digital activity\” you could actually track the ambiguous \”word of mouth?\”

    Very interesting. Thank you.

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