A new reason to like likes?

#fail. Amex brings me stuff I have no interest in.

Have you linked your American Express Card to your Facebook page yet? Apparently thousands of people have in the hopes that Amex will find them truly relevant deals and bargains based on their likes and their friends’ likes.

It was just about a week ago when I included examples like the above – turning the stream into usable content – in a post on the newest social media trends  and obviously this is an attempt to do just that. Though in my Amex case it’s an utter failure. At least so far. While I am a loyal and long-term (35 years) American Express customer (they have the credit card industry’s best customer service), their latest experiment needs a little more work.

For example, it offered me a discount on a cruise (a team of Clydesdales couldn’t drag me onto a cruise ship); savings at Lord and Taylor (I don’t shop there); and an exclusive opportunity to attend Glee in 3D (not a fan and don’t even really like 3D.) The problem of course is that American Express thinks that my friends’ likes might actually coincide with my likes. Wrong. In fact given the too many people I have as friends on Facebook I can’t even say with certainty that I like my “friends,” never mind my friends’ likes.

But there is something interesting in this, both for users and for marketers. If we get to a point where we can harness the stream in such a way that it becomes valuable as searchable content long after the moment of a post, we can use it as individuals to make better decisions and find stuff that we do want. And as marketers we can finally leverage those likes, using them to influence new or prospective customers.

There’s a great post in Business Insider by Jeff Janer, CEO and co-founder of Springpad (note that I’m on the board), which is among the first companies starting to harness the potential of  likes and deferred intent.

While the social web has been highly effective in giving us ways to express our “likes” of things we’ve already done, it has yet to address the other side of the interest graph: the trusted referrals and recommendations we receive from our friends, as well as the things we discover on our own, and want to buy, read, visit, or listen to later. In other words: our “wants.”

The rest of the post goes into greater detail about how to make this work.

The problem with American Express’s service, if I’m using it correctly, is that I can’t filter my friends based on what I know to be their qualifications to make recommendations.  For example, friends who have good taste; or travel to exotic places; or share my taste in restaurants; or have valid opinions about literature; or know their electronics. If that were possible, perhaps Amex would deliver me far more relevant offers.

Hey wait a minute? Sounds a little like Circles. Maybe all of this is starting to come together. Presuming we don’t mind Facebook, Google and American Express knowing even more about us than they already do.

8 comments
GuyMastrion
GuyMastrion

Perhaps Amex should be bolder and add a dislike button to their offers. In this way they can get immediate feedback, from those willing to play along, on what their target feels is interesting. Presumably, if they have us targeted correctly we'd be taking them up on some of the offers but this feedback is slow compared to a like/dislike button. For instance, I may like an offer but not act on it and may not even click the button, so the advertiser gets no feedback what-so-ever. Conversely, if I "dislike" or am not interested in the offer, wouldn't the advertiser want this information to better improve their offer and or targeting? For the user this would help deliver more meaningful offers so the benefit would be built into the action. This might feel like a harsh step in the "everything is beautiful world" of the social web but we need more efficiency and less waste as marketers, and as users our time on-line needs to deliver an experience that is ever more relevant from advertisers, otherwise all these schemes will start to feel like nothing more than a billboard cluttering the highway waiting for the right person to drive by and take notice.

Like and dislike buttons would allow marketers to aggregate to relevant buckets and attribute them to specific user group profiles of "friends." These friends might not really be friends to Edwards point but they would be united in a friendship based, at least theoretically, on a progressively more filtered set of interests. Facebook allows you to give feedback on what ads are relevant, I'm not sure how many people take the time to do it, but it's possible, even though time consuming. The like/dislike button would help make short work of the sorting. Perhaps a better voting scheme would be interested/disinterested or some other more pithy wording. Of course it will take a sophisticated marketer to make the most of this feature, someone willing to really work the data and do split testing across audiences and offers but I do believe it would be worth the effort. So possibly somewhere between the likes and dislikes there emerges a better senses of the "wants."

There is probably a better answer to all this and someone smarter than me will figure it out. Maybe it will be Circles, it feels like it could be. As a user, and really I just started, Circles relevance to marketers will only be as good as the governance of my circles. Just like Edward I've got so many friends on Facebook, at least for me, it has sort of taken on a life of its own.

kalisurfer
kalisurfer

The question I have is why isn't American Express tapping into your purchasing behavior based on what you bought with your American Express. Promoting deals based on what your friends like is a neat idea but in no way as relevant or useful as deals based on your likes or past purchase.

Like the potential of this concept but don't understand its execution

jeffjaner
jeffjaner

Thanks for the mention Edward. Not only do we think it's useful to filter and "time-shift" your friends' recommendations to help you out when you're ready, but it's also of great value to both the individual and the brand to enable dynamic, relevant and actionable alerts past the point of discovery.

let5ch
let5ch

I was thinking Circles too and it's only inevitable that Google+ will be tapping something like the above soon. What's the over/under on when our Google+ streams fill with targeted ads from Google?

In a Friday frame of mind, don't cross the streams! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jyaLZHiJJnE

edwardboches
edwardboches moderator

@kalisurfer Guess they are trying to tap into the social graph more and figure out if they can gather even more information about you based on likes and your friends. Plus figure if you join up, then you might alert your friends who'll join up and they'll have even more data on you.

edwardboches
edwardboches moderator

@jeffjaner No doubt. Clearly Springpad is on to something. Looks like others will soon jump on bandwagon, which could be good as it will elevate awareness for this new opportunity.

edwardboches
edwardboches moderator

@let5ch That is probably Google's plan, but at the moment who ever figures out how to tap into Facebook likes, and allow filtering/organizing your friends' likes there, will have a quick advantage.

kalisurfer
kalisurfer

@edwardboches It's a really cool concept. Not being a card member i cannot see the execution. They should have separated their offers between their exclusives (ie what they are featureing and trying to push) and the ones that were relevant to you based on purchase. They should look at Netflix and how they provide context on recommendations ie based on ip man we recommend ip man 2 ... Something like based on your electronics purchases here is a credit for best buy.

That would make it a lot more obvious to end users what is relevant and ultimately the value to them