An essential component of Web 2.0, "social recommendation" is at the heart social networks. Sharing of editorial content, videos, product reviews or brands: members of a community are increasingly being influenced by the judgment of their peers, to an extent that the opinion of "friends" has an increasing impact on consumer choices, according to several recently published studies. A trend that can be observed especially on Facebook and with the "I like" button which is a real social recommendation engine.
Facebook at the heart of social recommendation
At the heart of social recommendation, Facebook is now a major economic asset for businesses. With an interface designed for content sharing and its versatility which makes it easy to expand its network of "friends", amplifies the use of "recommendations" within the members of your community.
This trend is accompanied by a significant behavioral change: members rely more on the opinion of their peers for the purchase of products or membership to a brand. This point is highlighted by a study published by Power Reviews a firm specializing e-tailing solutions and web marketing . According to this, for each 1000 e-consumers familiar to social networks, over half of them believe that the opinions issued by their Facebook friends influence their purchasing decisions, as much as the opinions of their relatives who share the same interests. Both of these factors are ahead of expert opinions on the internet (51%), the content posted by the brands themselves, and articles published by the influential bloggers (26%).
Another survey, conducted by Performics, a provider for marketing solutions for search engines also highlight the importance of decision-making devolved to friends, followers, and fans, the increasing role of the "I Like" button in the process of social recommendation.
The Social Graph: a bridge between community platforms
The term "Social Graph", invented by the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, some years ago, initially referred to the internal network of each member of Facebook ("like the tree of knowledge"), a factor improving the user experience on-line, particularly in terms of quality and availability of content.
This concept has beed updated and now we takk of "Open Graph", which provides interconnection between different online services, via such applications and plug-ins provided by Facebook.
Search engines, location-based services and social recommendation
Facebook is not the only example of the development of social recommendation as a reason to purchase products and services. On a scale admittedly less important, but still significant, we noticed the emergence of search engines based on the same principle. This is the case for example Nomao, a location-based search engine that reflects the recommendations of internet users in the display of results (such as shops, restaurants, etc).
Challenges for businesses
The "social recommendation" concept poses several challenges for businesses: in terms of awareness, controlled branding, customer relations, marketing techniques, etc.. Some future challenges worthy to be mentioned are:
- Effective email campaigns. A recently published study by the GetResponse email marketing platform on the effectiveness of email campaigns establishes a relationship between the presence of sharing buttons on commercial emails and higher conversion rates (+ 55%). The integration of this component seems necessary.
- E-reputation. Corporate presence on social networks seems to be an inevitable development, as proven by the results of a survey conducted by the provider of e-marketing companies "ExactTarget".
- Ecommerce: recommendation tools based on analysis of data published by members of social networks may play a central role in the purchase decision process.
- Blogging: If the "I like" button from Facebook freely promotes content published on the internet, companies should gain by publishing quality contents.