Friday, March 4, 2011

COD: TopVoice lets brands reward their most enthusiastic evangelists

Thanks to ad:tech for publishing this first.

A dear friend of mine gets very passionate when she discusses how brands are struggling with how to leverage social media in support of brand goals. Her pet peeve is that we stick banners in social environments as if the best we can do is barrage users when they hold the power to talk us up or down to their circles of influence.

I agree with her that most brands are misusing or at least underusing social in support of brand goals. I say that chiefly because of the 20/80 or 10/90 rule – that all brands have heavy user/believers who recommend products, talk up benefits, and even come to our aid when naysayers unfairly criticize us online.

How do we encourage and reward these consumer behaviors? Well, a company called TopVoice thinks it has the answer. TopVoice lets brands recognize and reward the people who motivate consumer actions from their friends and connections. Users join the service on their site or via their FaceBook application. From there, the platform monitors their activity in support of participating brands, giving them status points when their actions – posts, recommendations, and the like – result in positive brand actions from their friends.

You earn points across Facebook by using the like button on brand pages and ads, and by making comments related to brands. Addiitonally, they have this speech bubble icon thing that adds many more potential actions to your loyalty reportoire. When your friends respond by clicking, visiting, or otherwise tangibly expressing that you motivated them, the points pile up.

Actually, there are three kinds of rankings:
• An overall ranking that outlines the total activity you drive across all brands
• A brand ranking related to your recommendations for a specific brand
• A category guru ranking that reflects your expertise on a product type

You get recognition from your points, but you also get rewards and discounts from brands that participate in TopVoice. Thus, a brand can responsibly reward its lovers without resorting to pay per post or other more mercenary methods. A leader board for each type of ranking also adds to the user recognition side of the equation.

There are clearly background and foreground components to this. First, the platform is capturing all your activity -- what you are doing naturally as you surf FaceBook. Second, it enables a brand to treat its fans as VIPs, without a direct pay for play relationship that has been widely panned online.Of course VIPs are expected to make more actions online.

I like the blend of psychological and tangible benefits. It’ll be illuminating to see what effects this model has on the recommending public.

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