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The Mobile Social Graph

Posted on August 24, 2012
By Team InMobi

Mapping connections is interesting!

According to Wikipedia, Social graph is a term used for sociograms in the Internet context. Sociogram is a graph that depicts relations. It has been referred to as "the global mapping of everybody and how they're related".

The term was popularized at the Facebook f8 conference on May 24, 2007. It was used to explain how the Facebook Platform would benefit from the social graph by taking advantage of the relationships between individuals and also with brands. Even though the definition later expanded to refer to a social graph of all Internet users, Social graph is even now synonymous with online networks like Facebook.

But…. If you were really to think about what your real life is like for a moment- Are you really closest to the people or brands whose items you like the most on Facebook? For most people its not. Sociologists say that most contacts in your friends list on a social network (like Facebook) are "weak ties": people with whom you have spent low amounts of low-intensity time but with whom you're still friendly. A social network for most people is just a way to keep their weak social contacts alive.

Wait! Instead, the best indicator of who we actually interact with in real life are the people we call; the people we text, the services we order from- be it your pizza or your plumber — it’s all in mobile interaction.

A mobile phone is with you always wherever and whatever you do- it tracks where you go; who you call, text, and email; the apps you run; when you run them. It knows you better than anyone. The ton load of information on a mobile is priceless to any marketer- the contact list; the favorite contacts, the places visited, the pictures taken, the apps downloaded. Map a person’s mobile phone and what he does with it- and you pretty much have an understanding of the user’s real life sociogram.

So…. Lo and Mo Imagine if a telecom service provider mapped the real world social graph of its subscriber base and offered advertising opportunity basis the same. While maintaining customers’ confidentiality the service provider’s backend systems cull out usage and behavioral trends from this social graph, which will be shared with the advertiser. Data points shared with advertiser will always be for the user cluster and never the individual user’s details/ preferences/ interest- this will help address privacy concerns.

For instance a segmented cluster of people who call “Italian restaurants” regularly get a promotional offer and invite to a new Italian restaurant in town. Or cellphone users who frequent a particular mall on weekends are sent offers from shops in that mall.

Now imagine if the mobile social graph gets information not just from the telecom service provider but from multiple sources like- the device maker; the places you go (basis GPS); the apps / content you consume. This will help brands reach out to the right audience in a streamlined manner that no other media (be it TV or PC) can support. Segmentation, localization and contextualization will make this possibility an exciting proposition for brands (increasing brand salience) and consumers (offers/mobile coupons for targeted user segments).

There it is…. an Open future! The need of the future then is a mobile social graph that has access to multiple sources of information - telecom service provider / device maker / GPS /the apps and content you consume. This social graph will be a true digital copy of our physical world.

With Mobile gaining prominence as a purchasing device and m-commerce predicted to take off in a big way, the implications of Mobile financial graph merging with the Social graph will be huge. Every piece of data that gets added to this graph makes it more intelligent, more discerning and helps in better decision making - Making it useful for marketers and consumers!

The Mobile social graph will open up a new era of highly targeted and highly relevant advertising that will push marketers to adopt a mobile-first approach.

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