Jeff Janer wrote article about a month ago on Business Insider that spoke about the concept of the interest graph and how saving “Likes” from our friends could be used to map the experiences we want to explore.
It was a great observation. However, I would like to take it a step further.
The simple and benign act of viewing a friend’s “Like” does not naturally help us discover our wants. I have hundreds of friends on Facebook that “Like” thousands of products/brands that have never influenced something I have tried or bought.
The reason? There are actually two.
First, is a big word called Trust
Facebook was not designed to help me discover more of the restaurants, music, wine, and books I enjoy. It helps me stay connected to colleagues, classmates, friends and family who are not in close proximity.
The problem is that all major social networks fail to recognize that acquaintances are not friends, and how we learn and why we try is strongly influenced by an even smaller numbers of individuals we know and trust. If you read The Tipping Point by Malcom Gladwell, the theory called The Law of the Few might ring a bell.
So I’m a foodie and I love wine. I bet if you created a bot that crawled across all my “friends” on Facebook I would have hundreds of wine and food recommendations — that would have little to no impact on my future wants.
Why you might ask? I’m not a snob. Far from it, I’ll eat and drink pretty much anything. And when it comes to people, I naturally find the good in those I meet. No, the reason these “Likes” do nothing for me is that there are just a few people I rely on most to guide my discovery of food/bev.
In fact, when it comes to movies, there is another handful of people I trust. This is true for any interest where I invest my time: photography, fly fishing, cross fit, etc.
Even if Facebook, Google+, and Twitter were built to manage your trusted relationships (which they’re not) there is another major gap. The 5 Star and Like rating systems we know so well are irrelevant.
Relevance of Rating Systems
Here is the problem. If you give a movie 5 out of 5 stars or a “Like”, only later to see another movie that you think is better, you can only give it 5 stars or another “Like”.
The problem is if someone else is looking at your two Like or 5 star movie recommendations they have no way of knowing which movie you liked better – the more 5 Stars or Likes you add, the worse it gets. These ratings are not actionable because they lack context.
Sound familiar? It should. Saturated acquaintance networks and irrelevant rating systems define much of the current social landscape… the good news is it’s about change.
If you found this interesting, check out our thought papers on Acquaintance Networking and The Recommendation Gap.