Sasha, a busy mom of 2, has just discovered an instant organic Vietnamese brown rice noodle soup that is a life-saver when she needs a quick dinner after a busy day; it's healthy and the kids love the noodles. In the past, she would tell friends that she runs into, but now she can take her superfan evangelism for Happy Pho to a new level and places it in the food section of her Couture store, where she also features her favorite baby shower gift- a baby blanket set from Ambajam. Much like the easy "do-it-yourself" features of Weebly (this is a weebly site), Sasha creates a stylized design for the Couture store of favorite things a bit like ebay, except Sasha doesn't have to fulfill any of the orders. Orders are fulfilled via the business directly. In this case, Ambajam (a web-based business located in Denver) fulfills its own orders and Happy Pho (available in Whole Foods in person, or online via Amazon) would be fulfilled by Amazon.
Sasha might be looking to upgrade the kitchen and knows that Suki, an interior decorator friend, has great taste and a gorgeous kitchen. Sasha starts by going to Suki's Couture shop to see what Suki recommended in home furnishings. When Sasha makes a purchase, Suki gets credited with superfan evangelist points for the referral. Sasha benefits from Suki's advice without interrupting Suki's work flow and by generating referral credit for Suki, Sasha honors the value of Suki's expertise. Referrers receive credit points for a referral and a referral into sale.
And when Frank goes to his Couture interface to find a baby shower gift for an office worker, he searches baby shower gifts and Sasha's Ambajam recommendation pops up because Sasha and two other people in his extended network recommended it. When he clicks on the link, Sasha and the others get credited with the referral. The search returns items prioritized by the frequency of recommendations within Frank's extended community and collective referrers receive credit.
Benefits for Everyone
This Couture model allows businesses that benefit from superfan evangelists to identify and engage with their superfans. Most superfans evangelize from passion, not for monetary gain, but the companies receiving referrals benefit from this marketing. Most of the "shopping for good" sites sign on big businesses, but this system would be design to make it easy for smaller businesses to access and engage in the referral marketplace. Businesses could develop relationships with their superfans with previews, discounts, and love for spreading the love. (Fascinating blog post on how Zynga does iterative design testing with superfans) The Couture system charges a small fee to the business for access to the referral platform (like Open table for restaurants) and the Couture system passes a % of its profit back to the superfan as points for charitable donation (Credo model).
The ranking of recommendations is based upon collective referrals. While actual dollars paid for referrals would penalize the referrers of great business by diluting their percentage and/or costing the most recommended businesses a lot of money. This model gives everyone who successfully refers a credit. The business donates a percentage (33%) of its profit to charitable ventures that get distributed based upon the ranking of its referrer community. (Credo Model)
A key factor of this platform which distinguishes it from past platforms builds on our knowledge that people are more likely to change a behavior when other around them are adopting the behavior; this includes purchasing what others in their social circle are purchasing. So, this platform builds on an individual's existing social network as an ecosystem that support purchasing, then takes the profit from that purchase and reinvests/distributes it back to the collective community. It's a different angle on the Groupon and leverages access to referral markets for small business whether they are local or remote.
I see this as a mashup that includes the Couture store with a 3D interface of Second Life, an application for small businesses that like Open Table allows easy access to customers and the referral system, the community/network access, the insight of LinkedIn/Facebook/Twitter with the unique trackback & stat capabilities of Hootsuite and the community good distribution model of CREDOMobile. No one said, creating the architecture that facilitates doing some good would be simple or easy, but it sure could be a lot of fun to make it easy for people to do more good!
This idea sprang from a series of articles that I stumbled across in the last week couple of weeks- including Beth Kanter's graphic on how non-profits can leverage social media (the Superfan Evangelist concept) + a Slate article on the Death of the Salesman (the internet as the disintermediator of the "salesman" in the US) + a report on a recent MIT study about social media and public health behavior change that could be applied to purchasing behavior.
If you know someone in this space already, do tell! What do you think?
*These are not paid advertisements, but I am a superfan evangelist of these products- enjoy!