Social networks seem free, but as we well know, we often pay for access by allowing those networks to use our data to serve us targeted ads. According to Ben Rosenfield, founder and CEO of Freebie, it’s time for users to reap the benefits of their social influence.
“We’ve been spending a lot of time building our social profiles,” says Rosenfield. “And it seems like everyone’s making money off of my information, except me.”
So Rosenfield launched Freebie, a service that enables social media users to leverage their influence across social networks to redeem free products, services and entertainment. This may sound like any other influencer marketing program, but Rosenfield draws a distinction.
“Freebie is meant for the masses, not meant for the uber-influential. The uber-influential already monetize their social connectivity and get things for free,” he says.
Freebie is essentially a marketplace that connects brands with consumers. Brands can identify users in their target market and offer those users a free experience such as a product or movie screening. Once the user agrees, there’s a mechanism that grants brands permission to post directly to the user’s social media feeds. The users can even edit or delete the posts after they’ve been submitted.
“[The posts are] payment for access to the products,” says Rosenfield.
On the brand side, Freebie uses 50 variables to determine a user’s “social capital,” including a score based on location, the number of social media connections and how many people engaged with posts. There are also tools to track the success of a campaign.
For example, Papa John’s pizza offered a deal on Freebie and more than 800 people took advantage. The campaign reached more than two million people and resulted in a 50 percent increase in sales.
When the Four Seasons hosted a Freebie event at the Allium restaurant in Chicago, 170 people attended and there were more than 300 social media posts with more than 2,000 engagements. According to Four Seasons representative Jan Kaiser, 40 percent of the event attendees dined at Allium again.
Currently, Freebie is only available in Chicago but is working with 100 brands and has 50,000 users. The next step is to launch the Android app and go national as well. Rosefield says the vision for the future is to disrupt the marketing industry and become a credible source for a better way to promote products.
“It’s obvious that word of mouth is the best form of marketing — both online and offline,” he says. “If we can give brands a way to leverage that word of mouth, and give consumers a way to take all that value and connections they’ve built on social media, it’s really a win-win.”