Does Social Currency Exist?

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Marketing
Recognizing the value of word-of-mouth marketing, some organizations are finding novel ways to reward customers for their social media mentions.

For the past few years, social media has been providing organizations with new avenues to connect with their customers and prospects, gather information, and also extend the voice of their brand. But what do customers who Tweet or share information about a favorite brand get in return? Most times, the only payback is mileage from their friends for being on top of what's happening and rarely some recognition from the company in question.
But a new breed of companies has found a new use for social mentions, allowing customers to use them instead of currency to pay for goods and services. The latest to do this was fashion designer Marc Jacobs whose new pop-up store in Manhattan's SoHo was trading Tweets and Instagram photos for goods--ranging from perfume samples to some coveted handbags. This image, shared on Twitter, explains the straightforward process.

Marc Jacobs is not the only company accepting social currency. San Francisco night-time delivery service Doorman also allows customers to pay through Tweets or Facebook posts. But these companies are not giving their products and services for free. Instead, they are recognizing that word-of-mouth is valuable and are rewarding customers for helping extend the voice of the brand through social channels. As Doorman CEO and cofounder Zander Adell tells Fast Company, "the holy grail of marketing is finding your brand advocate." While some firms have attempted to put a price on a social share, Adell notes that when a company gives its brand advocates something back, it is recognizing the value of customers talking about its products and services on social channels. "The customer deserves to see some of that value," he notes.

As 1to1 Media highlights in this article, organizations are striving to find ways to turn their customers into brand advocates. While paying for word-of-mouth publicity might not be everyone's piece of cake, this could definitely be a tool that organizations can use to increase this advocacy.

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EXPERT OPINION