Earlier this week, I read an article about Marc Jacobs setting up a pop-up booth at New York Fashion Week that will accept Tweets with the hashtag #MJDaisyChain as payment. The idea behind it is that by tweeting with this hashtag, you are marketing a product for them, saving them ad dollars they might have inevitably spent elsewhere.
Social media as actual currency is fascinating to me. Klout capitalized on this idea first (although never really succeeded in monetizing it), but having a following on social media is a form of value that could be traded for actual goods. As they say in the article, “We don’t have the official tweets to U.S. dollars exchange rate just yet, but we’ll update when we have more details.”
Conceptually, the way social media currency is possible is that there is an intrinsic value to the following you have amassed. Your word or opinion gets seen by a certain number of people on various social media platforms and serves as a form of endorsement whether it is intended or not. People begin to share what you have said, in the form of things like retweets or shares. Every day, brands inadvertently capitalize on word-of-mouth recommendations like this and simultaneously have to spend less on brand advertising as a result. It’s a double benefit.
Given this construct, a brand like Marc Jacobs could assign an actual value to a tweet containing a certain hashtag, and this value would depend on the number of followers the user has. The exchange of that tweet for goods and services is icing on the cake.
This is no different from celebrities providing endorsements on their own personal media (and being paid for it), but these micro-endorsements merit a small form of repayment. This is a cool thought experiment for social media platforms, brands and users, and I think that the micro-endorsement space is going to be huge.
Addendum: there are some great examples of this already happening. Take RocksBox: they give you $5 off of a purchase if you Tweet with their handle or mention them in a photo on Instagram.