Could a London Startup yield data more valuable than that of Facebook & Twitter?

It would be naive to think that a new startup should be mentioned in the same breath as the behemoths that are Facebook & Twitter but when developing a new product who else should you seek to emulate other than those at the top of the consumer internet tree?

When looking around at the social media landscape, the dominant forces have to be Facebook & Twitter due to their importance, huge reach, impact on modern life and enviable valuations.
So we decided to look at what they do, how they do it and see if we could learn some lessons as to how to improve on quality of data collected whilst creating a network based solely around products and passions.

When breaking it down we summarised that Facebook with the largest audience is an amazing company who emphasise past events such as birthdays, occasions and memories as their staple content combined with datapoints such as location and likes in order to present targeted advertising to its users.

Twitter on the other hand lives much more in the present with reaction to real life events as they happen in real time allowing advertisers to become a presence in these here and now conversations.

Our main reservation to the initial approach taken by these companies was that both Facebook and Twitter’s initial core offering had nothing to do with products or brands. So as the audience grew and the need for revenue increased, messages from brands and advertisers had to be somehow shoe-horned in to view much to the annoyance of a lot of users and some would say to the detriment to the platforms’ initial offering.

So how could we approach this differently?
Well, first of all we decided to create an idea around a product centric platform so that we would never need to push products, brands and advertisers into view to the detriment of the user experience - on Your10 the Products would BE the conversation!

Secondly, we decided to exert a limit to the number of selections which could represent a user and their lifestyle.
These choices would be limited to 10 and they would be proudly presented like a badge of honour to anyone viewing a user profile page.
This ‘Your10 Billboard’ or ‘representation of self’ has several important effects on our users and upon the value of the data produced.

In the ‘Selfie-Age’ everyone is showcasing themselves and trying to enhance their own online identities and indeed many earn a good living from doing so, it would therefore seem only natural that the items with which we indulge our passions, which represent our lifestyles should take a centre stage billing.
On the Your10 profile page we celebrate these lifestyle choices and enable our users to differentiate themselves by creating a headline billboard for their passions and a showcase for their own ‘Personal Branding’.

So other than the natural modern desire to promote one’s perceived online identity — the top10 billboard has some subtle but no less valuable benefits and applications.

The billboard enables the crowd to access the recommendations of trusted sources by bringing together a compelling mix of: experts to showcase their industry insights and sector knowledge, brands to highlight their top products and bloggers to find a wider audience for their content.

The key benefit for these guys being that their important content is ALWAYS visible at the head of the page in a stylish billboard, it is never lost to the timescale of the feed or the stream as is so often the case on Facebook and Twitter- blink and you have missed it!
Couple this with an option to embed the top10 billboards into user blogs, websites and pages and Your10 could become the source of some very original and self promoting content to be distributed by our user groups.

So while all this sounds like a promising idea, is there any room for it and how would it pan out in the real world commercially?

In 2014 Facebook was quoted as having a US/Canada ARPU (average revenue per user) of approx. $7, (the worldwide figure being closer to $2) with Twitter’s US ARPU being half that of Facebook’s at approx. $3.50
This was in stark contrast to the juggernaut that is Google, which carried an astonishing 6x multiple over Facebook with a US ARPU of $45.

Why the huge difference?
Well there are many factors to this and they are way beyond the scope of this discussion but the main factors which are relevant to us at Your10 are those of purchasing intent and the capturing of future behaviour patterns.

When you type a search into Google it immediately knows what you want, what you are looking for - simple but powerful! A commercial colossus is underpinned by this simple fact.
Other platforms cannot come close to this - is there any real value in a Facebook Like or a Twitter favourite anymore? there appears to be little intent behind these actions for sure.
Relative newcomers such as Pinterest are trying to tackle this ‘affinity problem’ but these platforms can become quite diffuse and more of a casual browsing experience with some users pinning thousands of items to their profiles which in of itself creates a targetting nightmare — can you actually have any real intent to buy thousands of products??

So, we approached this problem with a question of our own “If you could only choose 10 items to define you and your lifestyle — what would they be?”
This introduces the concept of artificial scarcity whereby if you make a resource scarce (in this case the data provided by the user) it becomes considerably more valuable.

By limiting selections we know each user has to think hard about their choices and only items they have a real affinity with will make the cut!
This becomes a very different beast with regard to repackaging data for brands & advertisers — each user having declared their definitive brand preferences and product loyalties and condensed them in to a top10 billboard format.
Not only does this make targetting so much easier but it eliminates wastage and ensures the user only need see products and advertising messages that are relevant to their own passions.

In seconds you could look at a user profile and know exactly what makes that person tick, where their passions and future buying aspirations lie.
This is key as we look to cross the chasm of current intent and future buying habits.

In the image above we can immediately see Sarah has interests in fitness, fashion, beauty and tech whereas John, below, is clearly an adrenaline junkie who loves his outdoor sports including surf, skate, cycling and snowboarding. The granularity of this data can also be taken deeper to the brand level in that John’s preferences lie with Oakley, Tiki surfboards and GoPro Hero4, so much so that he is effectively advertising them to the rest of his followers.
You can also be sure that the afore mentioned brands would be very interested to know the identity of the other 9 selections they were chosen alongside.

These advocacy choices offer incredibly valuable insights! Which become even more valuable when you consider that Your10 will be collecting and showcasing the condensed 10 selections of leading experts, knowledgable users, relevant brands, niche bloggers and ultimately well known public figures.

It is this type of core insight into buying aspirations which prompted the headline question asking -could this data prove to be more valuable than the throwaway likes and favorites collected by Facebook and Twitter?

The answer is it could be….. with the right investment in order to improve and simplify the platform further, there could be some incredibly valuable data harvested to benefit users and brands alike, and it is keeping the interests of both of these two groups aligned which has to be the ultimate goal.

Justin Glaister
Founder Your10

Your10 is currently raising funds on UK crowdfunding site Crowdcube to streamline its offering and take it to the next level.