How Google’s OpenSocial Will Revolutionize Community Targeting

31 10 2007

Community based targeting accommodates multiple, mutually exclusive and compounding brand messages to be expressed.

OpenSocial will spur the development of micro-social networks that will be tied together on the backend, facilitating the seamless movement of users from community to community. This in turn will create an umbrella system where I have an over arcing super-identity, but express multiple aspects of it through the micro-communities I join.

Your first question is probably: Well I can already do that with groups in Myspace and Facebook. Wrong.

Let me explain. Groups on mass social networks are usually merely badges that signify affiliation. Interaction on these groups is relatively low as the barrier for entry is low. Being part of micro-communities is a far greater commitment as one has a reputation that resides in the space that needs to be maintained. Thus, the people in micro-communities are the hardcore, the key influencers, and people with intent. If you are a regular reader you have read my rants on intent based advertising. The citizens of micro-communities are there to acquire information on a subject, share information, and interact with a small subset of passionistas. Micro-communities are places of intent, thus targeting messages to these communities can be very effective.

What kind of messages you ask?

Messages that provide utility. Provide them information, insights, discounts, group buys, or branded widgets, that are also portable throughout OpenSocial. Don’t be their friend, cause they don’t want to be yours, but provide a service and they will appreciate it.

Still wanna work with banner ads?

Let the community shepard/s select the messages. Align your interests. Parse the site, give them a selection of relevant ads and let them choose the ones they feel will resonate the most with their community. More clicks = more money for the shepard/s. In addition, they feel empowered, and a little empowerment goes a long way. Finally, no one person, marketer, or algorithm know a community better than their shepard/s.

Alright so what do I mean by, community based targeting accommodates multiple, mutually exclusive and compounding brand messages to be expressed?

Well in the age of mass media – TV, Radio, Print, and Portals – brands were forced to pick one message they felt would resonate with the largest group of people and blast it. That is no longer the case. Now I believe there still needs to be one all encompassing theme, but now you can target communities with unique messages. Bear with me here.

Imagine the Venn Diagram at the top of the post, and imagine that each circle represents a different community. Now the advertiser disseminates 3 different messages that highlight different aspects of a widget that resonates strongest with each community. If am a member of community A I get sent message A and it makes sense to me and I am not exposed to messages B and C as these communities are mutually exclusive for me. There might be crossover with some members that might spread messages between communities, but since I don’t care much for the information I would bypass it. This keeps message A clear and undiluted, thus more effective. Now the other scenario is I am a member of all 3 communities. In this case I care about all three messages and thus they compound and build an even stronger pitch to the user.

This is the power of community targeting, it allows brands to transition from a OR world where a brand has to be X OR Y, to a world where brand can be X AND Y AND Z.

Finally, these citizens of micro-communities are influencers and will continue to spread your message in a way that makes sense to their audience. If I am a tech aficionado and reside in multiple tech micro-communities and have received 3 compounding messages, when I am communicating the message to say my nephew who wants a new laptop I will relay the messages that make the most sense to him; thus, you have a multi-tiered message filtering system. The more messages that make sense to the influencers the more ammo they have when pitching it down the line.

Very curious to hear everyone’s thoughts.



8 responses

31 10 2007
My Ghillie » How Google’s OpenSocial Will Revolutionize Community Targeting

[…] Check it out! While looking through the blogosphere we stumbled on an interesting post today.Here’s a quick excerptCommunity based targeting accommodates multiple, mutually exclusive and compounding brand messages to be expressed. OpenSocial will spur the development of micro-social networks that will be tied together on the backend, … […]

1 11 2007
How Google’s OpenSocial Will Revolutionize Community Targeting

[…] Seni Thomas Wrote an interesting post today on senithomas.wordpress.comRead this summary…. […]

3 11 2007
How Google’s OpenSocial Will Revolutionize Community Targeting

[…] Seni Thomas Blogged something interesting today on senithomas.wordpress.comRead this summary: […]

28 11 2007
Content Clusters Facilitate Intent Based Advertising: GLAM Network « THE AD-VOCATE

[…] I’ve talked at length about the power of intent based advertising here and effective targeting of micro communities here. […]

13 12 2007
Jonathan Trenn


How do these new communities maintain their ‘microness’…the ability to stay reasonably small so as not to be a bunch of all types as we see on MySpace. Yet open enough to not become exclusive. I don’t understand, but am interested in, the formulation of them.

Jonathan Trenn

13 12 2007
Seni Thomas


Basically it is a matter of self screening. Niche communities will only appeal to a passionate subset of users. For example communities for small dogs in New York City. Similar to the TV network model there will a few 800 lbs. gorillas in the social networking world and new upstarts will have a difficult time competing, thus they will be forced to cater to more targeted, higher cpm niche communities. For example Home and Garden tv.

Finally, these passionate users can tell when you aren’t authentic, and do a good job of weeding out less dedicated members. This is already evidenced in a number of online communities, especially in tech centric communities.

13 12 2007
Jonathan Trenn

While I can’t say I’m against this model my concern is that it will end up being exclusive. Or I should say that my observation is that it will be. Not necessarily a good or a bad thing. Depends on the group.

I’m more or less thinking in terms of social marketing as that’s the field that I’m in.

13 12 2007
Seni Thomas


Media needs to be exclusive to remain meaningful. We will have our big facebook-ish networks, but any form of media that goes too broad becomes less and less meaningful. Exclusivity is the key to the creation of micro-communities. Having an entry barrier is essential to the growth of a passion based community.

Take a read through

“Why All Media Must Fragment”

“The History of Facebook From a Students Perspective”

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