Experticity CEO Tom Stockham credits a bike ride for helping him realize the value of influencer marketing. There he was, riding a Santa Cruz mountain bike in Salt Lake City, when it hit him.
Nine out of 10 bikers in his group — including his brother Dave — were riding Santa Cruz Bicycles. Stockham said his brother loved the brand so much that he persuaded his friends and family to love it, too.
This week, Salt Lake City-based Experticity extended the options for brand influencers with a new app and online community — advancing a commitment Stockham adopted more than a decade ago.
“My brother, who is by all measures a normal guy, spoke passionately about the Santa Cruz brand,” Stockham told CMSWire. “He was compelling. We all ended up buying these Santa Cruz bikes and loving biking."
Stockham realized his brother was wielding significant influence for a brand that had no idea he existed.
Stockham wanted to fix that. Brands need a way, he thought, to tap into the passion of their best customers and transform those customers into brand advocates in a “real and tangible way.”
Experticity’s New App
As the head of Experticity, Stockham helps marketers find brand ambassadors. He was an investor in the 2004 startup 3point5 that morphed to Swarm Builder in 2009 and then to Experticity in 2012. He became CEO in 2010.
This week Experticity launched its latest innovations, an app and an online community that rewards individuals with expert knowledge insider access to content and products from hundreds of top brands.
Experticity's Community of Influencers
The exclusive community will be home to more than one million active Experticity influencers who have worked in retail and now tell their stories online, Stockham said.
Experticity officials said the unpaid community is ”true to Experticity’s goal of championing more credible and authentic influencer marketing, especially in response to recent concerns that the industry is disingenuous and breaking FTC rules.”
The Federal Trade Commission last December issued an enforcement policy statement explaining how established consumer protection principles apply to different advertising formats, including “native” ads that "look like surrounding non-advertising content."
Experticity's new app is designed for influencers to connect with brands to receive insider content and product access.
Understanding Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing wasn't born with Experticity. However, the company is having success: 750 brand clients and about one million “qualified experts" to date.
Stockham called brand influencers “constant learners” who are curious to know the latest trends and what they’re going to buy next. They “inspire people around them,” he added. They encourage others to “cook with more flair,” or ski with more confidence, whatever the passion may be.
“All of us are getting really good at ignoring advertisements,” Stockham said. “We need more help figuring out what to buy and getting the most of what we do buy.”
Experticity beefed up its platform in April by merging with San Carlos, Calif.-based ReadyPulse, which offers proprietary enterprise technology for tracking and ranking online influencers.
“For too long the passion and expertise has been sucked out of marketing, retail and commerce,” Stockham said. “I think this is a bigger opportunity than anything I’ve ever worked at.”
Stockham was CEO of the popular genealogy site Ancestry.com from 2001 to 2005. "That was an amazing experience building an online subscription business," he said.
Before that, he spent two years as president at Ticketmaster.com, where he spearheaded the move to online sales, transforming tickets from objects to data.
“Tickets were only physical objects then,” Stockham said. “We had to create a whole network of barcode scanners and put it in the hands of people who stood at the doors of venues. They then became a piece of data. Those were crazy times and a lot of fun.”
Title image from Experticity