Gushcloud pays you to tweet, but will people find it spammy?
April 4, 2012 by Terence LEE
You can be sure that whenever a social network becomes successful, people will try to make money off it. Twitter is a very good example.
Of late, all sorts of people have been gaming the social network. For instance, using Twitter bots to artificially boost the number of Twitter followers, as what US Presidential nominee Newt Gingrich allegedly did.
Which was why I approached Gushcloud with some skepticism.
Gushcloud is a Singapore-based startup that, in a nutshell, rewards its users to perform certain tasks promoted by marketers: Tweeting or sharing on Facebook about a product, writing a blog post, or completing a survey. In this way, it’s similar to ChurpChurp.
For marketers, Gushcloud offers an advertising platform that allows them to pick their audience demographics, control how much they want to spend, and how much they want to pay their ‘Gushers’.
It is designed for individuals and companies to advertise with any budget on either Facebook or Twitter. They will be able to see who are the people that have performed the tasks set, and review demographics and click-through rates.
I do have some concerns with this approach. This pay-per-post sort of marketing may lose its efficacy in the long run, once social media users realize these tweets or posts are paid for.
They may also not appreciate having their feeds flooded with commercial tweets. It’s a possible scenario given how Twitter may be launching it’s own self-serve ad platform for small businesses, taking market share away from Gushcloud and its ilk.
It’s a little like an MLM business — easier to make money if you’re in it early on either as a platform like Gushcloud or an individual Gusher, but it gets much tougher as more players enter the market, causing saturation and market fatigue. The high click-through rates which they proclaim now for their campaigns may eventually see diminishing returns.
Another issue I see is how they are blurring the line between authentic and sponsored messages by attempting to cast their marketing solution as both. I wonder if they are going against the fundamental nature of true virality — that people share content because they genuinely love it and not because they’re paid to do so?
Noting my concerns, Althea Lim, Gushcloud’s CMO, said: ”We believe that there will be a minor percentage of people who are tweeting or Facebook sharing for the rewards. However, we found out via our audience base that consumers on the platform are self-censoring themselves; they are only doing the tasks that they like or believe in.”
I guess her point is that paying people to tweet is okay most of the time since they are likely to retweet only what they believe in, even as they receive a monetary incentive for it.
What she didn’t mention is that people are in fact being incentivized to spread a message which they in normal circumstances wouldn’t. A not-so-popular message, through Gushcloud, may end up becoming artificially more viral. Like pumping steriods. There’s also no telling how users may choose to behave in the future. Would they continue to stick to sharing only what they like?
But — and here’s my big disclaimer — I do think Gushcloud is a legitimate startup trying to solve a real problem, that of helping marketers reach out to consumers in an increasingly noisy world.
I genuinely wish them all the best, and I hope they won’t be adding to the noise.
They do at least have one believer though, and a prominent one in John Wu, the co-founder and former CTO of Alibaba Group. His private equity firm Singhome Fund has invested an undisclosed amount of seed money into the company. John is certainly a good partner to have, given his expertise and connections to the Chinese market.
And since their launch last October, user adoption seems to be coming along nicely, with US$70,000 spent on Gushcloud campaigns and 27,000 users within four months.
So where is Gushcloud going from here?
Althea says that the company plans to build “white label brand pages to further incentivize and engage their targeted consumers.”
In terms of expanding to other markets, they have managed to engage several Malaysian celebrities to use the platform, and are even setting up an office in San Francisco.
They’ve also attended the latest SXSW conference. Said Vincent Ha, co-founder and CEO: “Most of the agencies that we spoke to validated the Gushcloud idea. Some where even surprised that such a simple idea of rewarding users for marketing actions weren’t executed in a way like Gushcloud”
In addition, the company has plans to enter Indonesia in May, and Australia before the end of the year. By 2013, they hope to push into the rest of Asia – China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Philippines and Thailand.
I’m genuinely curious how Gushcloud will do as they expand. It’s certainly a good test case of whether this pay-per-post model could work — along with their Silicon Valley brethrens, of course.
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About The Author
Terence LEE - Editor
Terence writes mainly about technology trends and startups in Asia. He believes in crafting smart content: Not just a regurgitation of text, but well thought-out pieces that serve the reader using a combination of data, design, narratives, analysis, and visual impact. His articles have been published on Venturebeat, Yahoo!, Straits Times, Today, and The Online Citizen. He also co-founded NewNation.sg, a satirical news site covering Singapore affairs. Engage him on LinkedIn and Twitter.Read other posts by Terence LEE