The Facebook ‘like’ button is perhaps the most valuable technological innovation of the last few decades.
It’s the keys to the kingdom, the feature that turns social networks into something more than the sum of its users, the revenue generator that adds billions to Facebook’s coffers, and the engine that propelled Facebook’s IPO into the stratosphere.
So why don’t you have something to show for it?
A recently settled class action lawsuit laid this all out for us. We learned how a little click of the thumbs-up icon is turning us into unwitting, unpaid product endorsers. Our actions are plugging products to our social network; our names and photos are integrated into Sponsored Stories that appear on our friends’ pages. Facebook gets the ad revenue and the products get our endorsements, which is estimated to influence purchase decisions at three times the rate of straight advertising. We’ve become the ads, but we’re shut out of the equation.
Swaggable is here to shake up the model.
Swaggable hooks you up with free products and hopes you’ll continue to do what you’re already doing—share your opinions with your social network. You pay nothing, not even shipping costs, and manufacturers send free product samples. You’re not obligated to write a review, and you’re expected to be honest about the products so that your opinions can maintain a semblance of impartiality.
The brands that Swaggable represents are mostly specialty foods. You sign up via Facebook Connect, telling Swaggable what types of products you’re interested in, or you can make specific requests for products you want from their current offerings, with new ones added every week. Samples are full-sized retail packages of mostly new and trendy foods, and Swaggable highlights categories like organic, fair trade, vegan, and non-GMO. Right now they’re sampling granola bars, fancy nut butters, spiced nut mixes, coconut drinks and teas, and a few dozen other products.
Facebook has an estimated 600 million active users, each connected to an average of 130 friends who collectively click the ‘like’ or ‘comment’ buttons 112 million times every hour, adding billions to Facebook’s bottom line. We’re the ones holding all the cards and we don’t seem to know it. Swaggable puts a little pinkie finger on the scale to shift the balance of power a tiny bit toward us.