Is influencer marketing over? Here's another pivot, this time from Wahooly

By Erin Griffith , written on May 21, 2013

From The News Desk

For a hot minute there, it felt like "influencers," loosely defined as anyone with a respectable number of Twitter followers, were the future of marketing. Thanks to the democratizing ways of the Web, anyone with a Twitter handle suddenly has a voice and an audience.

We saw how quickly bad behavior by companies (ahem, airlines, cable companies) spread through social networks. So why not make that work in the other direction? Let fans advocate for your brand, and suddenly you have millions of authentic micro-advertisements that cost next to nothing. Identify the fans with the most followers, and get the most bang for your buck. Companies like MyLikes, IZEA,, Twittad, or twtMob, allowed us to monetize our followings, while Klout, Kred and PeerIndex, PROskore, Traackr, Twitalyzer and SocMetrics measured it.

Wahooly was one with a particularly novel approach: Tweet for equity. The company offered users a stake in startups on its platform in exchange for things like using the product, promoting it on Twitter, or engaging with it. The idea sounds out there, but enough people were into it because, like all crowdfunding, it provided an attachment between the startups and their users. They felt invested (because they literally were). Likewise, the startups got those crucial early adopters spreading the gospel of their product.

The company had a rough launch, but after working out the kinks, things looked promising. It partnered with financial services startup CapLinked to help legitimize the companies on its platform by performing diligence on them. Video debate company Deeyoon experienced a rapid adoption after the company launched on Wahooly (with a little help from Octomom and Michael Lohan). Wahooly seemed to be building momentum.

Then sometime last year, people stopped caring about Klout. In fact, it became a bit of a punch line (remember Klouchebag?). The category's me-too companies became quiet, and Klout began a series of attempts to, as Sarah put it, finally come up with something users will love. Influencer affiliate company Referly called it quits. Now "tweet-for-equity" company Wahooly is pivoting too.

The company announced yesterday that, as part of the AngelPad accelerator in San Francisco, it has changed itself to, which focuses now more on reputation than on influence. It seems trendy enough -- the word "reputation" is always a part of conversations about the peer economy. Most people on Wahooly didn't really want equity anyways, he determined. They had opted for various rewards from the startups which they tended to redeem quickly.

Where previously Wahooly offered equity for engagement, the company now offers influencers reciprocal sharing. A sort of "I'll share yours if you share mine." The more stuff of other members that you share, the more points you get to redeem to get your own stuff shared. "That's the social backscratching aspect of our business," co-founder and CEO Dana Severson says. It's almost like a Hacker News voting ring.

Existing Wahooly users and anyone with a klout score of 50 of higher will be automatically allowed into Likewise, you get complimentary points and the ability you can earn more. The amount of points you earn is based your influence score, the uniqueness of your reach, your historic response to posts/shares and the uniqueness of your interests. Influence is dead, long live reputation!

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