Viralspace: an on-demand user-generated-content marketplace


What is Viralspace?

Viralspace is created by three master’s students of Stanford, Hiro Tien, Ashwini Pokle and Apoorva Dornadula and is an on-demand user-generated-content marketplace. Viralspace is founded in 2018 when Hiro and Apoorva, who were interns at Google at that time, teamed up with Ashwini, a former amazon software engineer to found Viralspace. Viralspace provides a platform where people can create content for brands. Brands are able to crowdsource brand-aligned content from people that post pictures or videos containing products of that specific brand on social media. The founders of Viralspace think this will be a more effective way for content creators to collaborate with brands, without spamming their followers. (The Stanford Daily, 2019).

How it works for creators

At the moment, Viralspace is a web application where users can create an account and then post content that features the brand. On the platform, brands post photography and videography contest, called challenges.  These challenges created by the brands are brand-sponsored competitions where customers can submit their content. On the homepage of Viralspace, the challenges can be found along with their descriptions and rewards. Right now, for example, the #whyilovecoupa challenge is running. Coupa Café is a coffee and dining company that has also opened several locations at Stanford University. Customers are asked to upload a photo or video of them with their favourite Coupa Café product and explain in the caption why they love Coupa Café. These challenges are live during a certain period and at the end of each challenge, the submission with the most votes earns the People’s Choice Award, which typically ranges from $50-100. People can share links to their post on social media so they can get more votes with the help of their friends and followers (The Stanford Daily, 2019).

#challenges on Viralspace platform

How it works for brands

Brands can contact Viralspace and tell them their marketing needs and what they’re looking for: photos of people with their product or inspiring video storytelling for example. Then, Viralspace will create the custom challenge and get creators submit content at the end of the certain time period the winners will be chosen. Right now, those top three submissions are chosen by Viralspace and the companies themselves. But in the future, they hope to eventually develop an algorithm that is able to select the winning creators and submissions. In this way, companies can acquire the winning content to use on their social media and post authentic user-generated content. The benefit for companies is the fact that they are able to crowdsource advertising material at relatively low costs. And on the other hand, the platform creates value for customers by reward them for creating and uploading content. In an interview Dornadula said that she differentiates Viralspace from potential competitors because Viralspace is not ‘selling audience or taking advantage of audience’. But Viralspace is focussing on content creation and the virality of social media posts. According to the Kleiner Perkins Internet Trends Report (2018), user-generated content fetches an engagement that is seven times as high as that of brand-generated content. This in combination with the fact that companies are able to crowdsource advertising material at a relatively low costs, makes it attractive for companies to use Viralspace.

Business model

At the moment, Viralspace is still a beta version and in development. Viralspace joined an accelerator program early January and received $150.000 in funding from a venture capital firm named Village Global. The team is currently working with their advisor Chris Yeh from Village Global to construct a business model. But it is sure that Viralspace will be a two-sided platform where on one side of the platform the content creators are and on the other side the brands. Right now, they are considering charging brands for a Viralspace subscription while keeping user accounts free of charge. In this way it would be more attractive for content creators to join the platform, since it will be free and they can make money or win prizes. As with all platforms, it will be more valuable for companies when more content creators join, the so-called same-side and cross-side network effects of a platform (Van Alstyne et al., 2016). And since the platform makes it possible for companies to generate advertisement material at a low cost, it will still be attractive despite the charges that Viralspace will ask to the companies.

Future plans

In an interview with the Stanford Daily, Tien said that all the features they will be building will be in the cause of creating network effects so the platform will be more attractive for both content creators as companies by adding more value. An example he mentioned is the launch of an in-app voting system where users of Viralspace can vote for other submissions and earn a ‘People’s Choice award’. Their vision is to fix the social networking experience between brands, creators and consumers because they think it’s fundamentally broken at the moment (The Stanford Daily, 2019).

In my opinion, the idea of Viralspace is really interesting since so many people post pictures featuring brands on social media nowadays and it would be even more fun when we can make money with it. Since user-generated content is proven to generate higher engagement and is more trust-worthy this could be very interesting for brands and companies as well and maybe it could be the new advertising model of the future…


References

Meeker, M. (2019). Internet Trends Report 2018. [online] Kleiner Perkins. Available at: https://www.kleinerperkins.com/perspectives/internet-trends-report-2018/ [Accessed 24 Feb. 2019].

Tsai, A. (2019). Viralspace: Crowdsourcing virality. [online] The Stanford Daily. Available at: https://www.stanforddaily.com/2019/02/22/viralspace-crowdsourcing-virality/ [Accessed 24 Feb. 2019].

Van Alstyne, M. W., Parker, G. G., & Choudary, S.P. 2016. Pipelines, platforms and the new rules of strategy. Harvard Business Review, 94(4), 54-62

Viralspace.ai. (2019). [online] Available at: https://www.viralspace.ai/how/ [Accessed 24 Feb. 2019].

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