Calling it the “next step in its evolution,” the New York-based Pinterest rival announced Monday that it will roll out a program to compensate users for their curation and sharing.
“What we’re saying is, you the people are curating the [products] that other people are buying, and we’re benefiting because we take a commission on all transactions,” said founder and CEO Joe Einhorn. “So why don’t we compensate you for either curating or marketing for us? It makes total sense to me. I think it’s the future of the internet, which is people are going to have to get something out of these services.”
As people “fancy” items on the site and share them with friends on Facebook and Twitter, users will get a link with a unique referral code. Each time a friend clicks on the link to buy the item, the company said, the user will get 2 percent of the transaction value. For now, users will receive compensation in the form of credit they can use on the site (and manage through a dashboard that helps track purchases made through their links). But Einhorn said that once the system is stable and they know they won’t be a target for hackers, they plan to allow users to eventually convert the credit to cash.
In the last year, the company said its user base has grown to more than one million people who generate upwards of $10,000 a day in sales. As the social discovery and commerce space heats up, Fancy’s rewards program could be a nice enticement for new users. Pinterest boasts 17 million users and is a powerhouse for driving referral traffic but doesn’t yet offer users a way to purchase directly from the site. London-based social shopping site Shopcade also rewards users for recommending products to friends but it’s just starting to make inroads in the U.S.
Just like Airbnb lets people turn spare space into money and TaskRabbit lets people monetize their time, Einhorn said, “We’re saying, turn your taste into an income stream.”
A drawback of the new compensation program could be that if Fancy users get a little overzealous with their sharing, friends may interpret it as spam. When I asked Einhorn about the issue, he said they’re going to monitor user behavior but think that people will be careful about alienating friends with over-sharing.
“We’re going to have to watch it,” he said. “But, right now, I think you know what your audience is going to tolerate, it’s the same as anything else. If you tweet a bunch of junk people may unfollow you on Twitter.”