South African-led start-up Croking hopes user-generated ideas from its social community about brands will get companies to sit up and take notice once these ideas, known as “crokes”, become valuable within the community.
They become of value once they gain traction through engagement — upvotes, downvotes, comments and shares on other social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
Dylan Meadon, head of user experience and marketing for Croking, says the more valuable a user’s contributions are, the more valuable they become to the brand — directly affecting their own “influence score”.
Brands then have the ability to respond to a croke, and in doing so engage with all users subscribed to that particular croke. “Once a brand has responded, users then have the opportunity to rate the brand’s response.”
Croking was launched on 5 August (in beta), but the idea was set in motion two years ago while co-CEOs Joshua Meadon and Daniel Brunnett were having drinks at a beer garden in Brunnett’s hometown, Speyer, in Germany.
Joshua Meadon says: “We had taken a liking to one brand of beer in particular. It soon dawned on us that the brewery, in all likelihood, would never hear our thoughts and ideas about their beer as no single channel exists to quickly and transparently voice our opinions.”
After doing research, the pair realised that feedback was “a boring term” for consumers, and businesses were “struggling to make better use of social media”.
“We teamed up with three others to create a digital platform that would be highly consumer centric, yet still beneficial to businesses,” says Joshua.
The Croking team is made up of five South African and German friends — co-CEO and operations head Joshua Meadon; co-CEO and business development head Brunnett; chief technology officer Reto Stuber; Dylan Meadon; and strategy and investor relations head David von der Leyen.
Twin brothers Joshua and Dylan Meadon, both 26, grew up in Pretoria and spent two years in the UK after completing high school. On their return to South Africa, Dylan pursued an information systems degree at the University of Pretoria, while Joshua left for Germany to study business administration and informatics.
The company is self-funded by all five co-founders and there are talks with investors about seed funding for 2014, with nothing signed off yet.
Dylan says the company wanted early adopters and thought leaders to make use of the service first, so the company has targeted specific technology and industry blogs. “Croking has also been endorsed by the World Fair Trade Organisation because of the transparency it brings to the consumer world.”
Plans for 2014 include extending Croking further into other social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and through mobile, where it’s working on an Android app. Its aim is to offer businesses “low-learning-curve” tools to engage with their customers, and to get public relations firms to use it as a service for their clients.
Eventually, it intends charging brands for extensive consumer insights and analytics. “We are currently preparing add-on tools accessible to brands that want to increase consumer engagement and streamline their brand experience strategy, and we intend to charge for these tools,” says Dylan. — (c) 2013 NewsCentral Media