TechnoVision 2014 – Profile As A Currency

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We Collaborate #2 – Profile as a Currency  If the product is free, then you are the product. And the more data you provide, the easier it is to market you. The ‘freemium’ model is now supported by consumers providing their profile data. This data can then be used by organizations to target their consumers […]

We Collaborate #2 – Profile as a Currency
If the product is free, then you are the product. And the more data you provide, the easier it is to market you. The ‘freemium’ model is now supported by consumers providing their profile data. This data can then be used by organizations to target their consumers better or simply by selling it to other organizations. This raises the question about whom consumers trust when sharing their profile data and what is acceptable to them in terms of how that data is being used. To organizations, it is a matter of understanding whether to hold profile data themselves or get it from the best external source.
The title of this blog might fool you a bit, as it seems to be just another one in the ‘as a Service’ category. Rest assured, it’s not. It is about you as a user and consumer of social media services and how much money you are really worth.
In the last couple of years, the amount of information people share through social media has increased dramatically. And not only the amount of data, but in a lot of cases also the ‘quality’ of the data. Admittedly, there are still people who think the outside world is interested in what is going on inside their homes and what they are feeding the dog, but in general people share information about what they really care about.
The same goes for the information that people put in their online profile, accounts and avatar: It’s more accurate and usable to determine the true ‘values’ of people – valuable data once you can dig in to it and really make sense of relationships between different elements.
Of course, the best and by far the most widely applied approach is to search and scan social media for input about the organization’s products or services and being able to react to that; let’s call this proactive customer service.
What I want to describe, however, is a step beyond this: actually making money  with your personal profile and with what you share, either as an organization or as an individual.
Let’s take a LinkedIn profile. There are several ways to benefit from a LinkedIn profile:
1. For an individual, a good profile – one that really sets you apart from the others – will help you find a great new job, maybe even without doing anything for it. Recruiters might automatically be attracted to your profile and ask you to apply for a job instead of the other way around.
2. For an organization, if its employees have set up compelling, convincing external profiles – which show how skilled they are and how passionate they are about working for the company – they may create new business as the entire company is perceived as more knowledgeable, more experienced, more energetic. Furthermore, professionals in the market who are considering changing jobs may see these profiles and will become better informed about the company and the people who work for it.
The product is you!
So profiles are valuable. Some companies rely solely on this fact. Did you ever wonder what Facebook is selling, what the products or services are it offers? Many will argue it’s the platform, but it’s actually something else. Facebook’s product is you. What you put in your profile, what you share with your friends, your friend’s friends and with the world, is what Facebook has to offer. And in the slipstream of that, it makes money with placed ads. But solely the fact that you share your life is what makes advertisers pay money for Facebook. 
Think about how McDonald’s or Starbucks build local social communities around a particular store, city or region. They target individuals in these communities with specific, even local offers, based on what they share in the community. And what about special offers you get in your local supermarket based on, for instance, the fact that you tweet about a BBQ you are putting up for your friends or that kids’ party that you announce on Facebook?
It’s a currency
Yes, profile is definitely a currency. Consumers are learning how to benefit from their social media profiles. And they’re learning fast, as they come to appreciate the real value that is contained in them. For organizations, vast opportunities exist in harvesting and analyzing profile data from their customers and their communities. But it’s all a matter of supply and demand, mutual trust and understanding about who sells to whom.
When a currency becomes scarce, the stakes become high. So better place your bets, the ball is already rolling!

This contribution by Arjan Kramer  

Part of Capgemini’s TechnoVision 2014 update series. See the overview here.

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