In January, Toronto-based Kibboko, Inc. launched its newest venture, Shweet.com which is a platform that rewards users for sharing links to a promotional message with their friends via Facebook and Twitter, in exchange for entry into a draw for prizes. The website has grown rapidly since the launch to five times its original scale via word-of-mouth and social sharing.
The company, which is backed by Growthworks Capital, focuses on connecting users to great products by selecting only the most unique and creative promotions and prizes to be offered on their website. For example, they offer promotional messages from artisanal businesses (think Etsy-type products), bands, film studios and app developers. Keith Bates, the Founder and CEO of Shweet, describes his vendors as “small, niche businesses who are often long on creativity but short on advertising budgets.”
Bates said that each social sharing promotion has a “Shweet limit." As soon as the limited number of promotional “Shweets” has been shared for a product, the participants are automatically entered into a draw where the Shweet software system picks a winner at random to redeem a prize from the advertiser. For example, you might win a $25.00 gift certificate to use on the promoting company’s website or a copy of a famous chef’s book or a DVD from a film studio. Shweet has also recently worked with a number of not-for-profit organizations to promote charitable donations.
The inspiration for the idea for Shweet came from the notion that with social media, everyone online is now a “micro-publisher” and is capable of being product ambassadors. Bates says that “everyone has access to the very same tools that the big publishers have to promote their own content.” Therefore, small businesses with limited advertising dollars have an alternative to forking over big advertising dollars for promotion on premium publishers’ websites.
Bates told me that the revenue model will involve a modest fee for promoting your Shweet on the website. The company will also provide their clients with reporting on how much exposure they got for the product during the Shweet promotion. Bates does not foresee any current competitors in this space at this time.
When I asked him whether he thought there might be an issue with people spamming their friends with promotions, he told me that he believes people who do that “will learn quickly that it’s probably not a good strategy for friend retention. Most people will know what their friends’ limits are and will exercise restraint.”
Shweet’s parent company, Kibboko, Inc. was also the founder of Scout Publisher – a personalized content discovery service that has been white labelled by media publishers like Hurst and TorStar Digital to help suggest highly customized content to their users to increase pageviews and time spent on a website. Bates said that the Scout Publisher platform has enabled the company to “truly know their way around recommendation” software.