The Digital Schwag Strategy

The biggest problem among startups is that entrepreneurs are really good at putting together a solution. They are not so good at making sure the right people see what they do, says Jason Toy, co-founder and CTO of influence targeting company Socmetrics.

Started as a way to brand and market the team's own startup causes, Socmetrics is being branded as a way to target specific demographic groups for brands that want to launch new ventures in their industries.

Add Socmetrics to what has become a heavy schwag bag of social media monitoring and marketing campaign companies that seek out influencers and use those influencers as distribution channels through the use of incentives and editorial strategies.

I asked Toy a couple of questions last month about Socmetrics, to get some idea of what Toy planned on doing with the company, why he made the company and what it does in the vertical. What was interesting about the interview was the discussion about the origins of the startup. It was thought up by Toy and his partner as a solution to the very sticky problem they experienced in marketing their own ideas.

They had seen many cases in Silicon Valley, where the company is based, where the startup idea was huge, brilliant, disruptive and engaging, but the marketing fell apart like a business card stuck in the jeans pocket during laundry day.

What I am most interested in talking about now, though, is how to differentiate all of these social influencer companies. If you know what is going to happen next, get in touch. I am interested to know which of these companies are going to start being bought up.

Here are some notes from that interview.

Douglas: What was the real need for starting up Socmetrics?

Jason Toy: We are a startup ourselves, and we see other companies trying to launch projects. We have all done multiple companies. When we get to that launch time, how do we do the proper marketing and reach out to the right people?

Of these companies [that start fast], 95% crash and burn. Part of it is technology and part of it is they didn't build it correctly, and part of it is these people don't know how to get the product out to the right people.

Douglas: There's been so much emphasis put on this lately, of how do you determine an influencer. What is your definition, or how do you do it?

Toy: We analyze that content a person produces. We correlate the blogs and tweets, the Facebook fan page, and analyze whether the content being RT'd and is it being shared and clicked on, being liked.

It's about the ability to drive action, and we measure this person's followers and it's a very hard metric to game. We also analyze and determine other influencers following you.

Douglas: This is becoming de rigeur, and even big agencies are trying to do this, so how is this more important than a "traditional" digital marketing strategy?

Toy: Well, blast media campaigns go out to thousands of people. Unfortunately, the people they are marketing to don't really care about your message. If you are Coke and you are trying to launch a healthy version of Coke, then maybe you would target moms. These are the kind of people you want to target.

Customers now use products in a variety of ways. Specifically, it's about understanding their own clients. One of our clients is selling their product. And they have over 50,000 customers and they don't know much about them. They process the list to find out if they can send them out special gifts.

Douglas: So, this is what other campaigns are starting to do, at scale. [See Klout and Involver]. How is this different than interactive marketing?

Toy: It's different because if you push out to random people, the probability is pretty low. If you actually know who are the people who really care about this kind of stuff, it might be per unit cost a little higher, but these are people who care about your brand and they are the ones who are going to be your brand advocates. Being able to find these people is extremely important to brands right now.

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