[Executive Edge] Hoy! Turning selfies into brand placement
Filipinos love social media. Filipinos also love selfies. Cebu-based entrepreneur Seph Mayol combined these two in founding Hoy!, a social network brand placement platform.
Launched on Monday, June 1, Hoy! is available for download on both iOS and Android. The concept behind the app is simple.
“It basically works the same way as how brand placements work in movies where real brands are embedded in programs to invoke brand recall or to generate a positive feeling toward its audience,” Mayol said.
Brands that partner with Hoy! set a reward and a corresponding selfie goal that users have to reach. It might be a photo of the user patronizing the establishment, posing with the product, or interacting with an employee. The user then posts this photo onto Hoy! and once they reach a certain number of likes, they can redeem the brand’s prize.
The brands give away prizes because there is value in this kind of visibility. “Just like how influencers and brand endorsers work in real life, our friends and relatives can influence us more effectively,” Mayol said.
Mayol added that Hoy! will appeal to brands across most industries. “Any consumer brand, regardless of industry, will benefit from a platform which encourages its customers to be brand ambassadors,” he said.
Their lineup of brands as of Hoy’s! launch reflects this fact. They have companies in apparel, beauty and skincare, dining, electronics, and entertainment and leisure. These businesses are largely focused in Cebu, but Mayol and his team will add more companies as they roll out in Metro Manila and across the Philippines in the coming weeks.
According to Mayol, there is a clustering benefit. He compares having all these companies on the Hoy! platform as stores in a mall, where the presence of one brand benefits the other brands.
“This is where Hoy! excels over self-initiated selfie marketing campaign done individually by brands as there is simply an advantage in terms of variety of choices,” he said.
The Hoy! team measures the success of its own campaigns through a metric they call “guaranteed like impression,” which is the number of times a brand is seen and liked by a user.
Mayol said the Hoy! platform will hold special appeal with Filipinos, pointing to the fact that we are celebrated as the selfie capital of the world. Mayol also cited the increasing availability of cheaper smartphones and wireless data, which allows Filipinos to spend more and more of their free time online.
Given this increasing reach, there is the risk of having people trying to game the Hoy! platform to get prizes. One of Hoy’s! selling points is that it has checks in place to reduce the spamming or fraud prevalent in most other brand-sponsored contests. Addressing this issue was a top priority in the months leading up to Hoy’s! launch.
“One of the main issues that we encountered when we developed Hoy! is how to eliminate fake and multiple accounts in a social network,” Mayol said.
The team’s solution was quite novel. The 2-step verification process requires the user to take a selfie photo inside a face outline, overlaid on top of the camera view. The second step requires the user to read two random words that are presented on the screen. The Hoy! team uses the photo in conjunction with the video to verify a user’s account.
Despite these checks, users may still submit selfies, not out of a true affinity for a particular brand, but merely to get the reward.
Mayol acknowledged this fact, but points out the Hoy! platform will work whether or not a person is truly genuine in their intentions. So long as the user puts out a branded selfie, the company gains the ability to get new customers from their social network.
Ideally, Hoy! users will post selfies involving brands that they truly enjoy. Mayol said that this is already prevalent on Facebook and Instagram. “Unknowingly or not, they are already endorsers of that brand in their own network,” he said.
Hoy! simply formalizes and refines what is already happening on social media, so that both sides of the marketplace can win. “To be able to receive a reward out from sharing these brands to your followers is more rewarding, and it makes the consumers feel better than they already do about that brand,” he said.
Mayol said Hoy! is not for everyone. He said it all boils down to preference. Some users may prefer to be private and only post personal things on their social media networks, while others may be a perfect fit.
“If you love taking selfies with your favorite products or establishments, and you also love rewards, then Hoy! is definitely for you,” he said. – Rappler.com