by Sudhir Ahluwalia | World Executives Digest |
Facebook leads with 1.79 billion monthly active users, Tencent owned Chinese platform Wechat has over 700 million monthly active users (MAU). Other popular social media sites include Instagram (500 million), Twitter (317million), Google Plus (300million) and Snapchat 150 million monthly active users.
These are indeed mind boggling numbers of people actively using social media engines. This vast network of people is potential buyers and sellers of goods and services. Companies, brands, celebrities, professionals and individuals are all vying to get their attention. Celebrities with huge fan base on social media are often contracted to endorse products and brands. A lot of advertisement dollars changes hands in the process.
Brands, business and even individuals constantly innovate to get higher returns from each advertisement dollar spent. The quest has led them to look at micro-influences, i.e. people like you and me for product endorsement. We, micro influencers, have our own circle of friends and supporters who share our views on a product or a brand that we like or not like.
The influence that an individual exerts in a peer base is termed as social currency. It is, important to clarify here, that social currency of micro influencers is being leveraged since the earliest of times. Politicians leveraged influence of local leaders to gain popularity and improve brand image among their constituents, business people used it to increase sales, improve brand presence while professionals use it to increase customer and fan base.
As monthly active user base on social media platforms has risen, this new media is being targeted by advertisers, marketers, businesses and individuals. To improve outreach to consumers on social media networks companies are constantly evolving new marketing strategies and allocating more and more human and financial resources.
Freelance social media managers have mushroomed. Apps that help enhance an individual or company’s social media presence have mushroomed too. A full fledged SEO industry has come up. Social media platforms are leveraging machine learning, analytics and artificial intelligence to improve targeting of prospective buyers.
Innovators are seeking to leverage growing monthly active user base for bettering sales performance. FamousEnuf an India based startup is targeting Facebook users to enhance brand presence for their corporate customers.
Brands approach FamousEnuf with a request to help them better target Facebook micro influencers. Famousenuf puts out a request to Facebook users to come up with promotion campaign ideas relevant to a brand. Brands pick the campaign idea that they find most attractive.
The selected campaign is then run on the Facebook user’s time line. The Facebook user is rewarded with a gift of the promoted product.
There are other innovations targeting microinfluencers. Some even offer financial rewards. Getpaid social is a platform where an individual is paid for liking a social media page, follow someone on Twitter, promote a product on their network etc.
Famousenuf product was launched on August 26th, 2016. Within a short span of under a quarter, Shah the Founder, told me that forty brands have already signed up for microinfluencer brand promotion campaigns. This is concrete evidence of the relevance of the innovation for brands and Facebook users alike.
Sixty five percent of offers have come from startups with the balance being mid-sized companies. A few large brands too have approached the company. The product has been so successful that Famousenuf decided to abandon the free trial period and have gone commercial.
The Founder husband wife duo of Shah and Pandya has focused their marketing effort so far on India based clients. They were planning to attend the Websummit event that was just concluded in November 2016 in Lisbon event. Clearly their sights are set to taking Famousenuf international.
Perhaps the most significant event in this startup’s short life is it competing and securing $40000 assistance from Facebook. This gives them access to Facebook tools and engineering capability. I view this is an early indicator of times to come. It has set the startup apart from others. It has demonstrated that it can compete and win in a competition of innovators.
This and brand endorsement of the product are qualities that many large corporations like Facebook would like to take on board. If current growth endures, I would not be surprised if Famousenuf would get an acquisition offer from the social media giant. Corporations like Facebook, Google and others are constantly hunting to acquire innovation. It gives them a higher return on investment by taking the acquisition route than building innovation in house.
Probably Famousenuf is already on that shortlist of prospective acquisition targets. It is a company whose progress would be watched closely. In the meanwhile this is a great opportunity for the startup to rapidly forge ahead adding features to its existing product. In time, bugs in the product will also be dealt with and the product will acquire a degree of robustness critical for rapid incorporation in a large company ecosystem.
Some additional features that come to my mind include videos, stills, augmented and virtual reality add on solutions etc. These will make a campaign richer and more attractive to both brands and microinfluencer campaigners. Campaigns will be lot more fun to the peer base and are likely to attract higher and longer eye balls.
I do not think that getting investor interest will be difficult for this startup. Investors get the scent of growth. They will pitch in early to leverage returns in the future. The real challenge for the startup will be learning to manage acquisition suitors, create competition among prospective acquirers, making compelling pitches and negotiating a good deal.
While doing all this, an eye on achieving higher valuations will be critical. It will be interesting coming months for Famousenuf. This is a start up that will be on my watch list.
Sudhir Ahluwalia is a business consultant. He has been management consulting head of Asia’s largest IT outsourcing company Tata Consultancy Services, business advisor to multiple companies, columnist and author of upcoming book on herbs-Holy Herbs. He has been a member of the Indian Forest Service. His webpage is: www.sudhirahluwalia.com