A new website provides an opportunity for small businesses to promote their products and services to a wider audience, in exchange for granting access to their Facebook friends and Twitter networks.
Weallshout.com asks users to grant access to their Twitter followers and Facebook friends and these networks are collectively pooled to from a central audience that can receive messages ("shouts") about a business' news or updates.
There are 10 categories of shouts, including technology and beauty, and users have the ability to authorise and deny everything "heard" by their personal networks, a mechanism to prevent spamming.
The site was started just over two weeks ago by 26-year-old Nathan Parrott, who was frustrated about the limited ability to promote his other start-ups.
"I want to help small business in getting concepts out to a mass market, instead of just the small little social networks we have access to," Parrott said. "We need to reach the masses when you have a new product you need to get out there."
If a member authorises three shouts, they're given an extra shout. Another incentive to "hear shouts" is to distribute news and information to your networks, Parrott said.
The site measures the number of Twitter followers and Facebook friends that have "heard" the shout, and this number of impressions can be seen by the person that made the original "shout".
Parrott said there have been about 100 shouts since the site launched just over two weeks ago and at the time of publication the combined network size was just over 7000. The ideal network size would be 100,000, he said, ensuring that the each shout is heard by a decent-sized audience.
"There's 10 categories on there, so the amount of people a particular shout might be relevant to is only a percentage of that 100,000.
"Out of that percentage, only 50 per cent may choose to authorise it, so the bigger the total network size, the better."
Parrott said he hasn't really thought about the business implications for this, but believes the service could be exploited by PR companies looking to promote their clients.
It leverages existing resources in Facebook and Twitter and it's free. There are incentives for businesses to participate.
It needs a big combined network size to be worthwhile. It will struggle to attract businesses that already have good exposure and big networks.
SMB and start-ups struggle to get their voices heard outside their immediate networks, so this essentially provides this audience.
If people compromise their networks because they're distributing shouts, then they will stop participating in the service.
The internet has demonstrated the value of leveraging social networks as a powerful way to establish new markets. While there is no business model yet, there will be lucrative commercial opportunities down the track if it can attract and maintain a large combined market size.