There’s one word every blogger has to think very, very carefully about before using: fanboy. Readers will accept anything else – profanity, hyperbole, jokes about their mothers – but anyone throwing around the other “F word” probably has a death wish (or doesn’t mind hundreds of inflammatory comments).
It’s probably safe to say, though, that Zuberance (a play on exuberance, presumably) is in the business of monetizing fanboys. The company prefers the term “brand advocate,” but at its heart Zuberance tries to make it easier for fanboys to recommend, review, and generally espouse the virtues of their “favorite” company or brand. Zuberance is today announcing a new product that “identifies, amplifies, and tracks” these, erm, brand advocates on Facebook.
Zuberance is a lesson in contradictions. When I spoke with its founder and CEO Rob Fuggetta I wondered why the company’s intended audience, people that Fuggetta says “would get [a brand's] logo tattooed on their arm,” would need another tool to express their excitement over a company or brand. When anyone with a blog and Twitter account can devote as much time as they want to talking up their company celeb, the idea that they somehow needed help sharing their thoughts was foreign.
For his part, Fuggetta handled my skepticism well. He explained that with so many different outlets for sharing content, including Twitter, Yelp, Amazon (for reviews), TripAdvisor, and a bunch of other companies, attempting to keep up with every service can become problematic. And that’s after a company is able to identify its “brand advocates,” which is much harder than simply tallying up the people that “Like” a Facebook page.
Which is where “identifies” comes in. Zuberance asks a brand’s fans how likely they are to recommend the brand to a friend on a scale from one to ten, with ten being the most likely. If a person selects nine or ten Zuberance then asks them to write a review, “tell a story,” or share some other piece of content to the previously mentioned services – it “amplifies” these advocates’ enthusiasm.
At that point the “tracks” function kicks in, monitoring how a piece of content is shared and its impact on engagement or sales. The premise – that people are more likely to become customers if they see that their friend has endorsed a product – is the same rationale behind Facebook’s marketing. Unlike Facebook, which display’s a friend’s face next to a product from a company that the “Like” but may not actually endorse, Zuberance is banking on content being shared through the service appearing (and being) more genuine.
“The first phase of the social media revolution is over,” Fuggetta says. “The second phase is figuring out how to get more from social media,” and that’s what he’s trying to do with Zuberance. I’m still not sure giving fanboys a more efficient megaphone is the right answer, but I’m not going to pretend that I’ve got this second phase figured out, either.