AI in marketing

Whom do we target if their's no target audience? or: the secret beauty of communities of interest and the art of understanding their essence

Have you ever asked yourself, why it's so hard to penetrate a market completely? Your market plan was well done. You'd collected all the numbers and the market size sounded quite appealing. But after a year, you just found yourself in a trap. You'd recognized, that only part of them converted, although you thought your market offering should be persuasive. I found myself quite often in that situation. But at one point of time, I decided to have a closer look and what I found, looked more like an actual art work, than market analysis to me. That's why I said, that it's just time to exhibit the beauty of community interaction.

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Do you think all conversations are equal? No, they're not. If you thought AI is tech you might be surprised how much art it is. For the first slide we recorded the conversations on "digital transformation" on Twitter. The blue dots ("nodes") represent the players in that communication game, while the links between them, the "nodes" document how many times someone has been mentioned or addressed in another conversation. And since this art reflects the conversation between real people, you sometimes find yourself part of the conversation without ever being active on the subject yourself (yellow dots).

While fascinated by the beauty of the visualized traces of human interaction I decide to dig deeper into the conversational ocean just to recognize that there are much more subtopics being discussed at the same time. And the microscopic view, the deep-dive into the community of slide 1, produced all following nets of discussions in slide 2-4.

Those who discussed "digital transformation" sometimes also discussed "IoT" or "artificial intelligence" or "future of work" or "industry 4.0". But the funny thing was, that none of the subtopics and their corresponding discussion lead to a similar visualization. If you look at the slides, which follow you see, that communities differ heavily. They even show a different level of maturity. Slide 2 might show a market at its early stage. It's a more homogeneous flow of interactions and people seem to nearly equally taking part in the discussion, although one seems to accumulate more and consumes more attention. Remember, that this is still the same set of people as on slide 1, it is just a higher zoom factor, so that we get closer to other discussions on another dimension in the same topical area.

Look much more like planetary systems less, than the milky way type of network on slide 2. They show stronger separations of "tribes," sub-communities, which seem to follow their own agenda forming groups which share the same subject, become visible for that reason, but do not interact with each other. If your market looks like that, how would you behave, if you aim to reach out for the whole population? - Right, you would be forced to get in touch with tribe leaders, since your planetary system might be light years away, although you belong to the same topical "galaxy".

And the lessons learned? - Remember, that there is no such thing as a market and we're not equal. Markets are more or less tribes glued together by a semantic liquid, which let's them live and exist in the same galaxy, but just with their own rules and players. If you want to reach out to the stars, you have to make sure, you get to the right "sun" at the center of the sub-groups. Let's analyze markets more closely next time we start to communicate to something called "target group." Such a target group might not exist. In fact it might be consist of a bunch of tribes, which require a more customized approach.
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Steffen Konrath,
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