Last week I was asked my thoughts on a new product, Sharetize, that pays consumers to share commercial messages with their social networks.
The Marketing Mag piece is here, but here’s my full response.
First, I personally hope that it doesn’t work in its current format as the non-disclosure aspect goes against the ethos of social media – to be open, honest and transparent. I would rather see them adopt a hashtag, for twitter at least, to show some sort of disclosure – when I’m talking about clients, friends, competitors, investments, on Twitter I use the #discl hashtag and others have started to the do the same. On my blog or on facebook, I can flat out disclose the relationship. PayPerPost was one of the first companies to roll out this model for bloggers and at first did not require disclosure…but quickly changed its policy when social media purists started to draw attention to the unethical nature of the service.
Second, from DDB Canada‘s perspective, we believe in creating communication that people are willing to participate in and share around. Our research shows that these communications have more impact with consumers – that ideas with what we call “ShareValue” have commercial value . So we hope that this service doesn’t muddy the waters causing people to be suspicious of every online (and offline) endorsement.
Third, however, I think it may be a success. People are looking to monetise their social media activity as much as possible and there is a burgeoning “black hat” industry around social media. Companies are popping up that allow you to buy more twitter followers, more fans, more youtube views which means for every ethical marketer that wants to participate in social media there is a less scrupulous marketer looking to manipulate the system. If my clients are looking for social endorsement at scale, and are willing to pay for it as a media cost, I would point them to services like ad.ly, Klout, Kred or appinions – but the best way to get people talking about you is to create interesting content with ShareValue.