While everyone is wringing their hands about the effect of advertising clutter and marketing-related privacy concerns on social networks like Facebook, one new contender is trying to cut the Gordian knot with a novel approach. Meet Tsu, the social network that pays you to share.
Launched on October 14 with $7 million in backing from private equity investors, Tsu rewards users who have more friends and whose posts get more views and drive more engagement from other users. As in a standard publishing model, the more exposure a user’s content gets, the more exposure any associated advertising receives. Appropriately, users are paid out of advertising revenues; the company claims it will turn 90% of ad revenues over to users.
Tsu is also handing out cash to people who recruit friends to join the new social network, which broadly resembles Facebook, incorporating the whole hashtag thing too. Intriguingly, users also collect some rewards when friends they invited turn out to be prolific and popular posters on the site -- sort of an ongoing royalty-slash-finder’s fee. Currently the network is invitation only, but the barrier to entry is pretty low, as you just need to wangle a short code to create an account.
Tsu has an interesting fraction-based approach to revenue
splitting that not only rewards the person who created the content, but also the people who recruited that person on to the social network. The person who created the content gets half of all revenues
(minus Tsu’s 10%) generated by advertising associated with that post in a given 24-hour period. Then the person who recruited them gets a third, and the person who recruited that person gets
one-ninth, the person who recruited that person gets one-twenty-seventh, and so on.
Of course there are some obvious questions. For one thing, will users dig the experience if they suspect that other people are just sharing stuff with them to make money? Presumably the founders are counting on some sort of social market forces to regulate this -- so if you’re sharing lots of bogus content just to share it, people will un-follow you and your audience will shrink. But the question of motivation is still enough to generate ambiguity, even with content shared in good faith. It’s not hard to imagine people thinking, “Yeah it’s sort of cool, but would they have shared it if they weren’t getting paid?”