Is Your Marketing Plan Based On Customer Attributes or Influences?


If your customer analysis and segmentation is based solely on customer attributes, you may be falling short of your potential. For example, consider the influence of friends in your social network:

  • Are 21-year-old women swayed by their father’s automotive purchase experiences?
  • Can the achievements of parents predict the future achievements of children?
  • When an individual is associated with others who have perpetrated fraud, is there an elevated risk?
  • Are you influenced to exercise when you see all of your friends exercising?

Social network influences can be very predictive, influential, and powerful. And, it’s not just your friends. Oftentimes, it is your friend’s friends that influence you. (Check out the book, Connected: How Your Friend’s Friend’s Friends Affect Everything You Feel, Think and Do byNicholas Christakis and James Fowler.) In some cases, the characteristics of one’s social network can be more predictive than one’s direct characteristics.

We recently used a public domain data set to study these influences. For our study, we used open source technology tools to produce the results. We based our study on Pokec, the most popular on-line social network in Slovakia because fully anonymized data is publicly available. Unfortunately, the data is still written in Slovak. With a little help from Google Translate, we were able to translate the language and data which allowed us to verify the influence of friends and develop more powerful marketing models. We focused our research on one’s network of friends, not just one person’s attributes.

We used Amazon Web Services (EMR & Machine Learning) and Spark (with GraphX) to model the data and quantify the power of friends, their friends, and their friend’s friends. The finished program requires less than $30 of compute resources to run (about the cost of the Connected book in hardcover). The software licensing cost — $0. Is this type of analysis revolutionary? No. But your access to it is.

Can you turbocharge your marketing plans by considering social influences? Yes! How can you kick off a project with no capital? Relus can help you get started. 

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