Here's a budding new and potentially more profitable and much less costly option to those hated (and in turn heavily regulated) cold-call telemarketing calls: paying people to pitch goodies via their social networks i.e. Facebook, Twitter, etc.
A story published in the Nov.21 New York Times reports that Amazon.com will start "paying commissions to individuals who refer buyers to the site via Twitter messages. (People must first sign up for Amazon Associates, a program in which Amazon pays Web publishers for referrals to its site.)".
But the bigger opportunity, it says "may be in matching advertisers with so-called influencers -- the more popular users of services like Twitter."
The Times story opens with how Vancouver, B.C., Canada blogger and Web entrepreneur John Chow earned $200 by telling his 50,000 Twitter followers, amidst a discussion of his city's typically wet, miserable weather where they could purchase M&Ms with customized faces, messages and colors.
Those numbers add up. In October, reports the paper he made about $3,000 from Twitter spiels. "I get paid for pushing a button," he said.
The benefits of social media for marketing in this fashion are enormous. The messages get through because the de facto marketers are known and trusted, unlike underpaid agents confined to crowded noisy cubicles, located in the middle of nowhere, and often in another country, hooked up to dialers that spit calls that make them work like chipmunks on amphetamines. The Times points out consumers "increasingly ignore nearly ever other kind of ad message in print, on television and online."
Another benefit is very low costs i.e. no dialers, PCs, and offices, and no wages/benefits. Just the virtual piecework.
Naturally there is a very real risk that all too many marketers will get greedy and stupid leading to annoyed customers and prospects with social media---like they did with phone calls, faxes and e-mail---leading to these channels being washed out for business purposes and consequent legislation to restrict these practices. The mindset of these characters is slash-and-burn, roasting the golden geese they've strangled.
There are hopeful signs that in this space that they may have, at last "get it", that in a limited pool of buyers--who communicate to each other at light speed--you can't afford to tick them off.
"We don't want to create an army of spammers, and we are not trying to turn Facebook and Twitter into one giant spam network," Joey Caroni, co-founder of Peer2. told the Times "All we are trying to do is get consumers to become marketers for us."