New models + old principles = new ways to make a difference
When Joe Reger, Jr. of dNeero contacted me on Monday to discuss his company's "social survey" offering I immediately shot back with "If this is a way for me to monetize my readers, you really got the wrong girl."
I'm not saying bloggers shouldn't be afforded ways to monetize their blogs...it's just that I'm not the target audience for such an offering. In my case I value readers' time and trust and get really funny about risking that...and when earnings enter the equation it can call credibility--or the motivation behind the post--into question.
But Joe is a reader of mine and truly wanted my feedback because he respects my opinions and teachings. Moreover, Joe was open to having a conversation and hearing me out (I wrote on the positive experience here, but didn't name dNeero as I didn't want to promote them until I was comfortable with their offering).
Let me first explain their model: through dNeero's service, bloggers make money by filling-out quick social surveys and then posting the answers to their blogs as a way to stir-up conversations on subjects--subjects that they are passionate about. There's a listing of surveys here and the surveys they had this week ranged Twitter to Paris Hilton to the iPhone (new surveys are loaded all the time, so I'm not sure what is available right now).
So the blogger makes money for filling-out the short surveys and then their readers can make money by doing the same, as well as the blogger receiving a recruitment fee on every survey taken by their readers. And while that's a model that might work for many, it's a model that won't work for others.
Now companies need to come into this space. Especially since researchers and advertisers need to get feedback so they can craft offerings that are better tailored to their customers. It's not that I don't believe companies should come into this space, it's that I advocate the way in which they come into this space can many times be done better.
And that's when I said to Joe, "I'd be open to this if--and only if--you gave bloggers the option of donating their earnings to charity. Why not offer a way for bloggers to add a content feature while giving money to a good cause?"
He liked that idea. How much? So much so that he went and full-on implemented it--and I should note he did it since Monday (bless his real-time response!). Just to clarify, it's not that bloggers have to apportion their earnings to charity...it's that they now have the option. So now bloggers can: (1) add a subject-specific content feature to their blog + (2) keep their credibility with readers + (3) give money to a charitable cause.
Joe has already started off by offering five different charities that bloggers can choose from and will add many more over time. Point is, where once there was not this option of helping worthy causes, now there is. What can we learn from this? Stuff both old and new, actually:
- Hold true to old principles: 'Listening' and 'value creation' are old principles, but they never get old. A lot can be learned and improved from being open to feedback.
- Be open to new models and more options: It's a precedent-setting time in this new medium and, if we work together to add value for all parties, we can create some mighty fine models, (and we can do some good in the process).
As for me? I would only post a survey on this blog if it pertained to subject matter that interests me (and of course I would give my earnings to charity). My hope for dNeero? I hope the feedback their surveys generate will help the companies sponsoring them get closer to their customers, be it through better products or better product communications. And sure I hope they'll raise oodles of money for myriad charities.
But mostly my hope is that other companies take a page from their book. The takeaway? Working together we can create business models that create value for all parties...and we can do a lot of good in the process.
PS: Joe is very open to feedback--remember, they're still very new and optimizing their offerings--so feel free to offer suggestions in the comments, he's a darn good listener.
Disclaimer: CK does not work nor consult for dNeero.