LAJ ARTICLES

In the Gig Economy everybody is a product placement

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Crowdtap is that venture funded (and what company isn’t) gig economy company that pitches itself as a place where anyone can “team up” with their “favorite brands” and “get rewarded for your opinions” by completing “missions,” such as filling out surveys and posting product promotions to social media.
Actions earn points that can be traded in for gift cards. Along the way, you might also get a few free samples or coupons. There are also occasional contests where members can win additional gift cards or larger prizes. A lot of what Crowdtappers do is post brand promotions to social media.
Crowdtap is gig economy social media marketing — people being paid to tell their friends to buy things. But there’s more! People don’t even have to have large social media followings, sharing content on social media isn’t absolutely required. The default option is to share on social media, but you even offline you can earn points and miscellany.
Crowdtap passes members’ responses on to brands, but otherwise nobody is listening to what they say. No one is responding. There’s very little about this that might be called social. Imagine someone wandering alone in a giant desert, shouting:
“I love Big Macs!”
Crowdtap is not social media marketing, it is a form of work that rewards people for selling products to themselves. New independent contractors (members) must complete a Membership Agreement. Members spend an average of 15 hours a week on the platform, their earnings are free products, coupons and gift cards. Members make a range from 25 cents an hour to about $11, with an average of $2.45.
Crowdtap says it’s about letting people share their opinions with brands and with other consumers, but the flow of information actually goes the other way. Crowdtap isn’t about letting people speak to brands; it’s about letting brands speak to people.
Here’s some brief part of the new member orientation:
Pick a list of favorite brands
Answer questions like: “What are the benefits of aloe in a facial skin care product?”
Visit pages that provided information about various cheese products
Filled in prompts about these cheese products such as “Think my family will love ______.”
Tweet your responses, include hashtags such as #HorizonCrowd and links to product pages
Write a short response about why you are “hoping to try out a delicious variety” of cheese snacks, and you are reminded to “mention both what kind of occasions you envision your family snacking … and which aspects of the snack pack appeal to you most.”
Answering a survey question usually earns two points. Posting something to social media usually earns 20. Uploading a photo earns 30. To get your first two $5 Amazon gift cards, you need 500 points; after that, it takes 1,000 points for each gift card.
There’s a further level of education built into these activities as well, in that you often have to already have bought certain items before you can earn member points. For example, a lot of the tasks are intended to be completed on a smartphone with a camera.
What of the mother who has to buy a new phone to participate in these tasks?
What of the person who can’t complete all the tasks because they can’t afford to take a picture of eating a lobster.
Good consumers keep their personal electronics up to date. And they eat lobster.
Crowdtap rebuts and marketing materials, people join because they’re “interested in trying new products and sharing their experiences” and that they get the opportunity to “communicate with the brands they already know and love, and discover new favorites.” The value for brands,they argue on demand, is in getting feedback from consumers. Crowdtap’s method of mixing consumer education in with all the consumer research and social media marketing as a feature, “The ability to get Amazon gift cards also can help [members] try some of the new things they discover!”
True, Crowdtap does let you share your opinions with brands and even pick a charity to support, but also that it’s business is only marketing…directly to its members.
Crowdtap’s business plan is the future of work. Independent Contractors as the dumping ground for brands. Cheapened labor stimulating consumption, to themselves.
This post is twisted and chopped from one of my regular reads, the Outline and a great journalist Jon Christian

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