Friday, May 13, 2011

Start-Up Watch COD: MyLikes rewards influencers for taking brand messages viral

If newspapers and magazines and TV stations and web sites get paid to communicate brand messages, why not brand fans? Millions of people talk about and endorse brands in social media every day – and more and more brands are exploring ways to encourage more such sharing.

With the remarkable credibility of personal endorsements, there should be no doubt that we are going to see more and more marketers search for ways to dial up the social influencing in support of their brands.

MyLikes is a social media advertising and marketing tool that helps brands do just that. Essentially, MyLikes is a community of influencers who are offered compensation in exchange for TRANSPARENTLY communicating messages about brands in their Twitters, FaceBook Pages, Tumblrs and Blogs.

Users join the community by linking to one or more of their existing social media presences, and then identify their passions. By communicating their favorite topics and items to MyLikes, users get a customized dashboard of company offers that fits their lives. If you care about entertainment, then you are going to see offers related to movies and TV shoes and whatnot. If you are a cook, expect to find offers related to food and recipes. You get the idea.

Users select the offers that match their brand interests and communicate them to their social graphs. For every click that these communications spawn, the influencer is compensated.

When I joined, the offers I received ranged in potential compensation from four cents to fourteen cents per click. The four cent offers were generally for people to click and participate in online activities, while the 14 cent offer was to communicate information specifically about an Acer computer. It appears that the more overtly salesy the offer, the higher the compensation. Which stands to reason since the advertiser herself is setting the compensation figure.

One of the offers I received on my MyLikes offer page was an invitation todistribute the link to a quiz rating how much like Charlie Sheen’s the respondent’s partying style is. By posting a message linking to the quiz, I would be compensated 7 cents for every click the offer received.

The service prepopulates a Tweet that you can of course edit. When the Tweet appears in your stream, it is identified as an ad and the source is shown as MyLikes.

So I looked at the offers, picked one that I liked, Tweeted it. Easy peasy. Then I sit back and watch the money roll in.

(And just in case you are curious, I don’t party like Charlie Sheen. Shocker to those that know me, I know…)

That’s the consumer side to all this. On the brand side, the advertiser pays only when an influencer drives a legit click. One of the big questions I had about this was how they plan to avoid spammy clicking behavior. Their model actually monitors the community by analyzing extraordinarily high click rates, and each member’s behavior to ensure that the visits driven by the platform are legitimate.

In fact, all member profiles are public, as is the list of likes that have identified. This is another tool to help the company and its clients separate the evangelist wheat from the spammer chaff. You can field a campaign in moments using their searchwords-like ad platform.

My Likes has already garnered a set of leading advertiser clients, including The Coca-Cola Company, Microsoft, Unilever, Sony Music, and Universal Pictures. Check out a whole mess of 20-second case studies here. (I need to remember this awesome case format the next time a client asks for these on their site. Nice.)

I like the simplicity of this platform, and how singularly focused it is on the problem of getting brand likers to become active evangelists. It delivers the transparency the FTC is looking for, and actually ensures that people who work hard on behalf of brands get compensated for their efforts.

Thanks to ad:tech for publishing this first.

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