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PeerIndex Looks to Engage the Influencers
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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Marketers clamor for their businesses and agencies to jump on the social media train and start engaging with consumers. As many of us know, it is harder than it looks. Anyone can make a Facebook page or create a Twitter handle, but how do you actually engage with your customers? How can a brand latch onto a viral thread that deals with its audience? Once brands can identify the gatekeepers and influencers, how do they maintain their attention?

A company called PeerPerks believes that it has the answer for you. It has, with the help of several developers from previous web startups, created an index where it ranks people according to their influence, and gives brands an opportunity to connect with them, according to the topics in which the index proves they are influential. 

Sounds like Klout, right? Wrong, says Azeem Azhar, chief executive of PeerPerks. He believes that it is the first product of its kind and is intended to reach the mass market. He also thinks that PeerPerks lands on the mark where Groupon missed; that it is not targeting deal-hunters but people who are genuinely interested in the brand.

Brands are already trying PeerPerks to see if it will deliver the results and engagement it promises. One brand is looking to offer free music subscriptions, while another is offering unlimited music and photo stories. While Klout has had its ups and downs, it will be interesting to see if a program like PeerPerks could hold on. Azhar said that they tried modeling the company after the free-sampling companies from our not-so-distant pasts, those companies that engaged consumers on the Web and off it. We remember Tremors, a market research and sampling company that sent CDs and scripts from the newest artists and movies and then followed up with a survey to gather our responses.

Your thoughts? Does PeerPerks improve on the model that Klout has set? Can something like this provide a valuable audience to marketers?

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About the Author
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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