Sanjeev Agrawal, newly appointed president of SocialTwist, believes in creating brand advocates for companies such as Barnes & Noble, ConAgra Foods, Gap, Procter & Gamble, Sara Lee, and Intel, rather than sharing ads, coupons and discounts on social sites.
Agrawal says such a strategy taps social and analytics to find key influencers.
SocialTwist finds brand advocates not only by delivering deals, but giving consumers an option to share a brand's message with others and receive an incentive for doing so. The Tell a Friend widget, white-labeled for some publishers, supports more than 100,000 Web sites that served up more than 8 billion impressions across the Web since launch.
For instance, a brokerage firm might want to offer consumers $25 for opening an account. If the consumer invites three friends, he gets one free trade and his friends get three.
Overall, consumers shared more content last year compared with the previous year. In 2010, content shared in Gmail rose 394% compared with the prior year, according to eMarketer, which points to data from AddThis. StumbleUpon followed with 254%; Orkut at 212%; Yahoo Mail at 197%; Facebook at 164%; and Twitter at 105%.
Sara Lee ran a social-coupon campaign that garnered 65,000 visitors in one month. The majority were friend referrals. More than 64% of users chose to refer friends or family and get the $2.50 offer. About 30% picked the $1 offer and 5% took the 50 cents off on Jimmy Dean Breakfast Bowls. Seventy-one percent of the referrals came from email, followed by 17% on Facebook and 1% each for Twitter and MySpace. The click-through rate included 40.7% on Facebook; 29.7 for email; 29.3% for Twitter; and 0.3% for MySpace.
"We have proven that marketing through SocialTwist provides a higher return on investment than search and, almost always, display," Agrawal said. "It's important to explain to customers why marketing through social should become core and not an experiment."
Pramati Technologies, an enterprise software company based in India with about 400 engineers, owns the SocialTwist, which now sits on a cash-flow positive balance sheet with its own profit-and-loss statement incorporated in Delaware.
Prior to joining SocialTwist, Agrawal, an MIT graduate, served as vice president, products at TellMe, acquired by Microsoft; CEO of Aloqa, acquired by Motorola; founder of The StoreBook; and former head of product marketing at Google.
Agrawal will use his experience of thinking big at Google and Microsoft to support SocialTwist as president. Everyone talks about speed, but unless you've worked at a company with a culture for speed it's difficult to foster," he said. "I had my own start-up, which I sold to Motorola last year, called Aloqa. It gave me the knowledge of how to build a company from the ground up."