How TribeCoin Will Revolutionize Influencer Marketing With a Tokenized Ambassador Program

A Case Study on OST Partner Company TribeCoin

Launching a brand ambassador program for your business is not easy. Hiring influencers is really expensive and hiring a group of gig-economy folks requires training to show them how to talk about your product. You can’t hire just anyone to love your product. The best ambassadors already use and love the product and collaborating with them should be meaningful. How can you find such an ambassador and build an authentic relationship?

“Time and again, your customers are the top-performing ambassadors.” That’s the opinion of Joshua Renfro, CEO of OST partner company TribeCoin, which develops tokenized ambassador programs. “Customers don’t require training overhead. They are naturally authentic ambassadors.”

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Building ambassador programs has been a career niche for Renfro. He started his career at Lyft seven years ago, and pitched the idea of an ambassador program there. There weren’t many tech companies doing ambassador programs at the time. He ended up building a program that outperformed online ads for Lyft within 12 months.

After Lyft, Renfro consulted in ambassador programs for about 25 companies. He co-founded a Los Angeles-based marketing platform called Markett. After seeing the big picture of how different types of brands could utilize ambassador marketing, he founded TribeCoin.

A Better Way To Collaborate With Fans and Customers

The TribeCoin platform enables brands to collaborate with their fans and customers. It connects brands to brand ambassadors and helps them launch a digital cooperative. TribeCoin communities can work together toward a common goal.

“I always thought that fans and customers were the most effective advocates. I wanted to enable brands to work with them more effectively.” Joshua Renfro, CEO of TribeCoin

Essentially, brands have their own white-label dashboards to manage their programs. This is where they can manage their tribe, a group of brand-specific members. Brands then create tasks for tribe members to complete and marketplace items for them to purchase. Tasks can include social engagements such as posting a picture of a product on Instagram. Tribe members are rewarded for completing tasks and they can purchase unique brand items in the marketplace.

A Paradigm of Influencer Marketing

Building an ambassador program isn’t as easy as simply hiring customers. In fact, it doesn’t make sense to turn your customers into employees. Payments to ambassadors made in fiat currencies can create challenges. When you pay a brand ambassador in cash, you establish an employer-employee relationship, which is probably not what you want. Companies want to maintain an authentic and meaningful relationship with brand-loyal customers — not hired shills.

According to Statista, an online statistics and market-research portal, the global influencer market on Instagram alone is expected to reach 2.38 billion U.S. dollars in 2019. It’s no question that the influencer marketing industry is growing. Renfro says that “against the traditional marketing paradigm, I think that we’re all influencers and we all possess a certain amount of influence.” He believes most people are actually conditioned to turn their eyes off when they see influencer marketing in the same way that people developed banner blindness after several years of viewing banners on browser screen. “We may watch,” he says, “but we don’t really listen and take it to heart.”

Although many companies exist today within the influencer marketing economy, none are as focused as TribeCoin on converting customers and fans into brand advocates, influencers, ambassadors, and collaborators. TribeCoin is the first of its kind as it deviates from the traditional marketing paradigm by making a tribe of everyday consumers who function as brand ambassadors.

The Tribe Economy

TribeCoin’s initial goal in working with OST was to create a case study and avoid doing an ICO during a turbulent period. Renfro hoped to use the case study as a proof of concept, demonstrating that people would become brand ambassadors in a token-based economy. The case study would help justify an ICO. This goal later changed as Renfro realized OST KIT offered everything he would need to create and manage a token economy for TribeCoin.

“After watching the team and learning more about the project, it just made sense to stick with OST and leverage their technology instead of reinventing the wheel.” — Joshua Renfro, CEO of TribeCoin

The tribe economy lets users earn coins that they can spend on products that the brand offers them. TribeCoin is facilitating a utility economy backed by real assets. Users own tokens that hold intrinsic value outside of the tribe economy.

TribeCoin was part of the OST KIT Alpha Developers POC challenge. Its proof of concept includes all types of transactions.

  • Company-to-user: Brands on Tribecoin send tokens to tribe members when a task is completed.
  • User-to-company: Tribe members can buy tangible goods brands on the TribeCoin market. Tokens are sent to brands from tribe members when a purchase is made.

TribeCoin has run pilot programs with several brands on a legacy platform. Renfro has spent much of 2018 making TribeCoin a user-friendly and beautiful platform both on the brand side and the user side. The brand dashboard is live today and TribeCoin is planning to officially launch their pilot on January 1st. The goal now is to create a stellar program that can be used as a demo for new brands and new clients. Renfro is focused on generating more revenue and creating an awesome case study that can be replicated for all brands.

Joshua Renfro sat down with José Mota to describe how Tribecoin is changing the marketing paradigm and explain how a token economy introduces incentivization for brand ambassadors.

About OST

OST blockchain infrastructure empowers new economies for mainstream businesses and emerging DApps. OST leads development of the OpenST Protocol, a framework for tokenizing businesses. In September 2018 OST introduced the OpenST Mosaic Protocol for running meta-blockchains to scale Ethereum applications to billions of users. OST KIT is a full-stack suite of developer tools, APIs, and SDKs for managing blockchain economies. OST partners reach more than 300 million end-users. OST has offices in Berlin, New York, Hong Kong, and Pune. OST is backed by leading institutional equity investors including Tencent, Greycroft, Vectr Ventures, and 500 Startups.