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Merger of Experticity and ReadyPulse combines offline and online influencers
Newly enlarged company says it is the first to provide an influencer service ranging from a passionate salesperson in a store to a product-touting Instagram post.
Experticity is an influencer network that finds and supports offline advocates in brick-and-mortar stores and in the field, like a ski resort. ReadyPulse is a platform that emphasizes online influencers, helping brands connect with their advocates.
Today, the two companies are announcing their merger. Experticity CEO Tom Stockham told me this creates “the first platform and first community” that supports a conversation between a customer and a product-passionate store employee in a physical store and also supports a product endorsement posted on a social network or an e-commerce site. Stockham is the former CEO of Ancestry.com and the ex-president of Ticketmaster.
Neither of these companies, nor the participating brands, have directly paid their influencers, although they do offer free or discounted products. But freebies are not the driver, ReadyPulse CEO Dennis O’Malley said, adding that the real incentives are touting a product you’re passionate about, getting inside information, getting recognition as an authority or connecting directly with the brand.
The combined company — which will keep the Experticity brand, Experticity’s office in Salt Lake City and ReadyPulse’s offices in San Carlos, California and Seattle — claims a joint client list of nearly 750 brands that includes The North Face, Purina, Adidas and Nickelodeon.
Experticity says its ongoing community consists of more than a million active influencers who are category experts, like a chef for food products, a makeup artist for beauty items or sales personnel in physical stores.
ReadyPulse’s platform is designed to assist brands with influencer recruiting/management and the administration of user-generated content, with an emphasis on online social networks. At the bottom of the SkullCandy audio products site, for instance, Instagram posts by ReadyPulse-managed influencers vouch for the site’s wares (see below). But O’Malley said the platform can also be utilized for offline influencer management.
The world of influencer marketing has been around long enough that it has developed distinct approaches to getting non-advertisement recommendations to consumers.
Some influencer networks, like NeoReach’s selected online community, are paid to issue videos on YouTube or posts in other social communities extolling the virtues of this face cream or that toothpaste. The brands are buying access to each influencer’s large number of followings, which can number in the hundreds of thousands, or even millions.
“Trust at scale”
TapFusion offers a largely automated platform for soliciting, selecting and paying influencers to create online content about the product. HyPR takes this a step further, having created a programmatic marketplace that is scanning for all users with 10,000 followers or more.
And influencer search engine BuzzStream is oriented toward bloggers and others who have written authoritatively about a subject.
But Experticity has zeroed in on trust as its key differentiator, where the influencers are driven by their love of the product. Last fall, the company sponsored a survey that found less than half of consumers trust or believe ads, while nearly three-quarters trust family or friends, and 61 percent trust third-party media.
Since most sales still occur offline in real stores, Experticity sees a key part of its value as providing support for passionate advocates at that point of sale.
Even as Experticity continues to work with brands to find and utilize online influencers using the ReadyPulse platform, will the company now try to move their offline advocates to online and help them get zillions of followers?
“Some may have already built a following online,” Stockham said, but “it doesn’t matter.”
“It isn’t the reach of our influencers” that is Experticity’s goal, he added. “It’s the authenticity, [as] we’re helping marketers achieve trust at scale.”