Your buying-power, and other things your social data could reveal about you

Your buying-power, and other things your social data could reveal about you

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We’re becoming increasingly aware of the social data we have all been leaving in our wakes online. From the conversations you have, to the people you know, to the exercise data you publish with an app that is helping you to lose weight or train for a marathon. We are creating increasing volumes of data about ourselves, as is clear in the Wolfram Alpha Facebook personal analytics reports I recently wrote about. Much of this data is of use to use – helping to personalise our experience  online. It can also be of much use to others.

The social data we leave in our wakes can be of great use to brands and organisations. And not necessarily for sinister reasons – better tailoring an e-commerce store based on what I might like to buy is going to make my shopping journey much easier. Or using my social data to help to understand the kind of films that an in-flight entertainment system should offer me first. These would be useful ways that the public data I leave in my wake could be used. But what about other uses of this data that might be used to rate us, and to include (or exclude) us from certain offers, events or services?

The New York Times recently reported on the rise of buying-power scoring in the US, notably the ‘escores’ product from eBureau. Put simply, they use large databases of information (everything from addresses to direct mail purchase history ) to produce individual buying-power scores. Ranking US consumers based on how valuable they might be as a customer.

This kind of information is incredibly valuable to firms – they know who would make a suitable customer, and who might not; they can target their advertising and offers; and they can even target their pricing. But whilst eBureau does not use social data just yet, it is hard to imagine that other tools and systems do not. It would be relatively easy (given enough data sets and computing power) to analyse how relevant and potentially valuable you might be as a customer.

Where you travel and the places you like. The products, brands and items you have in photos. Where you dine and eat, and what you do for entertainment. Your job, location and education history. The people you socialise with and all of this data about them. You can start to build up a real picture at an individual level, but it becomes more useful (and more interesting) when you can compare millions of similar pictures. You can start to infer things about an individual based on what other people like them also do, say and share.

And this data could start to rate and categorise people based on their potential value as a customer.

There is a huge world of possibilities for social data for individuals and for brands and organisations. We continue to leave so much structured and unstructured social data in our wakes that the person who can structure this for us will be able to get huge benefit from it.

Photo credit: Digital Life by Whatknot