Sramana Mitra: What about stuff like Facebook pages, LinkedIn connections, and Facebook followers? Are those part of the system?
Dmitri Williams: Yes. Anything that our API collects is fair game here. You could, for example, have a system with multiple types of edges and connections and we have to think through that carefully, deal with it, and automate it. Any time we can link two people together, we’re happy. When we have more than one type, it leads to better model accuracy.
Sramana Mitra: Very interesting. I like what you’re doing. We are a very small company, but it would be great to understand, because we have an incredible number of followers. It would be great to understand the social graph of that and who’s influencing whom, and who are the ones who are really helpful in propagating the messages.
Dmitri Williams: Our joke is this only works where there are people. It turns out that we tend to be social monkeys no matter what we’re doing. If we can find the digital traces of it, there’s always behavior to track. This really leads to a mental shift for our clients. Let’s say it’s you. It, at the same time, convinces you that this isn’t just more data to mine, in the sense that I have more fields now and I know now that I’ve got a certain number of demographic clustering going on and I know these people are wealthy or these people are female. That’s still thinking about your relationship with the customers. What our approach is really designed for is when you start thinking about the end users’ relationship with the other end users. In other words, thinking about it in a C2C sense. How are those consumers interacting with each other?
When you want to start talking about how to improve your business outcomes, you really need to focus on improving their interactions with each other so your business outcomes get better. That may be not thinking about, “How do I squeeze more money or more behavior out of this person?” Instead think, “How do I make their relationships with each other stronger? Because if they’re having a better time or getting more out of my system, I’ll wind up benefiting by proxy.” We call this the coffee shop analogy where you can find an influential person in the coffee shop if you’re the owner and you may give them a free coffee. But what if you give them a comfortable couch in the back of the store for them to hang out with their friends? That’s no extra coffee. What you’ve done is you’ve reinforced their relationships and what’s going to happen is they’re going to come in more often. You’re going to wind up selling more coffee.