Will Social Media Posts Become the New Currency?
Multiple trends show a move toward social currency as a legitimate method of payment.
Currency has always been representative. At one time it represented how much gold or silver a nation had in its reserves (hence the term “Pound Sterling”). More recently, money represents an amount of value theoretically based on investment and effort. Over the past three years the abstract concept of “social currency” — the accumulation and expenditure of social standing or power — has at times become a literal expression.
It started with social media rewards. Companies would grant a discount or special privilege like early admission on a sale day to people who would post about the shop or an event on social media. Since then, these exchanges have become progressively more systematic, more abstract, and more like an actual exchange of funds. Some examples:
- In 2012, Kellog’s opened a London shop offering their newest snack bars to those who would Tweet about it.
- In August of this year, Marc Jacobs held a money-free pop-up in London where customers could purchase handbags only by Tweeting about the shop to the hashtag #MJDaisyChain
- This December, a New York Velcro store allowed customers to take a garland-themed tie, holiday wrap or Velcro fabric strip (each valued at $5) with retweeting Velcro brand posts as the only payment
- Popular Pays of Chicago broke big this Autumn by facilitating exchanges between customers willing to pay in Instagram photos and companies willing to give a free meal or merchandise in exchange.
These events, and those like them, go beyond a free drink with your meal or 10% off your order. The Chit Indiegogo campaign promises to move the trend even further. If successful, the project will develop underwriting to support the currency, a social influence algorithm to determine value, and marketing funds to increase the number of vendors willing to accept Chit as payment.
The end result will be a network of shops that will list “Chits” along with Bitcoins, USD and Euros as methods of payment, and individuals able to earn Chits according to their personal level of social media influence. A celebrity like Ozzy Osbourne, for example, would earn more chits per post than a recent college graduate with 100 friends and followers.
With about a month to go and only $174 of the $67,000 they need for funding, it’s unlikely that the Chit project will move forward…but it’s only a matter of time before a similar project succeeds. Bitcoin is alive and well, and this only an evolution of the concept that reflects the real drivers behind a modern economy.