Thursday, February 17, 2011

SocialSmack gives "props" and "drops" to brands

Thanks to the ad:tech blog for publishing this first.

Good news! Social media give you windows through which to see how your consumers are feeling about your product. Bad news: that’s potentially 200 million windows!

OK, that is a bit of an exaggeration. Because not every person online uses your product or talks about their product experiences. But we all know that it is very easy to get caught up in the enormous amounts of social data that may be available for your brand. Monitoring tools can find the commentary for you, but that still leaves you with the challenge of sifting through it and addressing problems and opportunities.

An Austin-based start-up called SocialSmack is trying to change the paradigm for brands and consumers by creating a community expressly to share brand experiences. The idea of SocialSmack is that consumers can describe their experiences using a product, have those distributed to their social circle, and potentially get feedback and a response from the responsible company, all in a dedicated brand feedback community.

Imagine you want to tell the world about a great experience you had with your new Chevy Volt.

You make the comment on SocialSmack (on site or through a mobile app.)
It is distributed to your social network of friends (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
Other members of the SocialSmack community can give Chevy a thumbs up or a thumbs down based upon your comment. They can also thumbs up/down the value of your comment. (Thumbs ups are called Props on the platform, thumbs downs, Drops in SocialSmack.)

It might stop there. Or it might not. Because if Chevy was part of the SocialSmack community, they would see your comment immediately, and be able to contact you with thanks ore a deal or a reward of some kind, or with a remedy if your experience wasn’t positive.

Here’s their pitch presentation from last year’s Demo competition:

We all know that companies can turn fans into superfans and naysayers into supporters through proactive listening and responding. This sort of thing is happening with increasing frequency via Twitter and on Facebook pages. What SocialSmack does is create a more engaged consumer community that gives and is rewarded for providing more feedback to brands, which creates a more focused environment for brands to understand and respond to consumer experiences.

In order to create an active SocialSmack community, the site uses simple game mechanics to drive more site participation and reward more and more valuable commentary and criticism. Users garner points and badges by:

Making comments
Providing ratings
Commenting on others’ comments
Voting brands up or down
Voting other users up and down
And more.
Part of the premise is that participants in a dedicated community are likely to:

Participate more
Make more comments
Be more responsible in their critiques of brands, products and services
Viral the community to friends and family to earn points and enliven discussions

Will people be more likely to offer comments if they are part of a community that expressly encourages and rewards such behavior? Time will tell, but it would certainly seem to offer benefits to brands if a community like this “makes it.”

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