We have sites like Facebook and FriendFeed that allow you to like comments or posts. We also have services like Glue that allow you to like things. Both of these are mashed up with social networks as well. With all of these services, you are just recommending things to your network and only the sites get paid by advertisers which may not even be relevant. What if you could get paid for liking things and maybe even get a small payment for a sponsored post? I know you probably think that the sponsored post is only for higher profile bloggers, but what if there was a way that anyone could get involved?

Enter MyLikes

You may have heard about the launch of MyLikes this week. The interesting thing is that you may have already been using it. MyLikes is the evolution of the Likaholix service that intrigued people several months ago. You have probably heard about this because of the people behind the service, former Googlers Bindu Reddy and Arvind Sundararajan. They were involved with various products at Google, but more importantly they have experience with AdWords and AdSense. So, you can see where the ideas for a paid likes or sponsored posts service would come from.

Given the evolution of the Likaholix service and the controversy that surrounds a sponsored tweets/posts service, I figured some questions needed to be answered. Bindu Reddy was very responsive to my questions and provided some interesting points. So, here is what she had to say.

Q: This is the evolution of likaholix, correct? What made you think of going into the direction of sponsored likes/tweets/posts given how controversial they tend to be?

Yes this is an evolution of Likaholix. We actually launched Likaholix with the express intention of creating an ad-platform. We wanted to start with creating a purely consumer site where users genuinely recommend what they like and not just “spam” their audience.

Having a Likaholix/MyLikes profile page which shows both the sponsored and non-sponsored Likes next to each other is one way of trying to encourage users to recommend honestly. We want to continue to encourage all our “Influencers” to show case all their likes whether they are sponsored or not. That way the influencers/bloggers can show case all their likes and clearly demonstrate that they are not doing this just for money.

Unfortunately this space is controversial because of some of the previous companies in this space that have engaged in spurious business practices like not labeling ads correctly and trying pass of paid content as “free content”. Our intent is to “legitimize this space”.

Q: How does an influencer get paid? You have some information about giving the money to charity, but I did not see anything on payment methods or minimum payment thresholds.

Influencers get paid via Paypal. Their money gets credited into their MyLikes account every Friday and then can withdraw it any time after that. We don’t have a minimum payment threshold beyond.

However, we have seen that Twitter advertising and sponsored posts are fairly controversial ideas that really get bloggers talking. At this point, there has not been much discussion related to MyLikes and sponsorships, but that could be due to it being so new. There has been discussion about this before with other services like Ad.ly, SponsoredTweets (an Izea product) and Izea themselves. So, it will be interesting to see what conversation evolves when people really start using MyLikes.

Personally, I think the idea could be a big opportunity mainly due to the implementation. This is not purely some random sponsored tweet. This takes the idea of likes as recommendations and just adds in advertising. This is actually similar to what people wanted FriendFeed to do in order to monetize, find heavily liked content and display relevant ads.

Not Just Sponsored Tweets

The important thing to note is that MyLikes is not just sponsored tweets. First, it still maintains the basic concept of Likaholix where you just “like” various movies, books or whatever. So, you still get the social network recommendations as well as a solid set of Related Items when you view a particular item.

You can become a “Tastemaker” which will adds the crucial “game” component to the site:

As a Tastemaker, your likes will be recommended to other users and your profile will be promoted all over the site. You need to have atleast 10 likes in the topic you choose to become a Tastemaker.

Interestingly, you can only be a Tastemaker for up to 3 topics. This allows them to limit the gaming of the system, but you can still have some fun. There are also contests available where you can earn up to $200.

Overall, there is a very nice set of functionality that could make MyLikes a winner. If the sponsored items pay more than your typical AdSense advertisements, the product could gain some steam and provide some interesting competition for Ad.ly and Izea. If you do not like the sponsorship idea, you can still use the  site just for likes and recommendations. You really have nothing to lose in that case, so give MyLikes a try.

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