Singapore-based social media marketing startup Gushcloud has partnered with global branded content provider Newcast to launch Gush Media today. It’s a marketplace where brands can find local ‘influencers’ to promote their products. Influencers include celebrities, bloggers, or anyone else with a strong social media following.

On the new Gush Media marketplace, brands can input the details of their desired campaign. They can then search influencers by gender, category, type, and age. Then they can specify how many monthly blog impressions, Facebook fans, Twitter followers, etc., the influencer should have. The website will then return a list of influencers that fit the criteria and their respective prices.

Once the company has made their selections, those social media influencers will start posting about the products and services via their online channels. Whether fans will see it as justified affiliate marketing or outright spam remains to be seen. The company says the new marketplace reduces the average time it takes to initiate a similar campaign from three days to just two hours.

The cost of selling out

Although I have no qualms with the business model, I still feel conflicted about this type of advertising. While these influencers – whether a celebrity or respected blogger – certainly have the power to persuade, their ethos will inevitably erode as they sell out to the highest bidder. A blogger, for instance, is more likely to be ignored or not taken seriously if his or her followers realize the tweets aren’t sincere. At the same time, making a living as a content provider is becoming increasingly more difficult as advertising revenue diminishes and paid subscribers are nowhere to be found. Those people still deserve to make a living from their work.

Gushcloud launched in October 2011 using a similar influencer marketing model minus the marketplace. The team pitched at our Startup Asia Singapore conference in February 2012 and raised seed funding from Singhome Fund a month later.

The partnership also means Newcast (which is also based in Singapore and is a division of ZenithOptimedia) gets access to Gushcloud’s growing directory of influencers.

(Editing by Steven Millward)


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