Yes yes but would MLK have been a Belieber?

3 Moronic Marketing Stunts People Are Pulling on Twitter

Whether you’re plugging your stupid blog or your case for invading Syria, Twitter has become the go-to vehicle for self-promotion. Unfortunately, a lot of the people doing the promoting are clueless about their readership, good taste, and self-awareness, thereby creating a triple threat of social media dumbness.

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Free Perks / Products / Fun!

I’ve been asked quite a lot lately about how I get so many products and perks for free so I thought I’d make a list of my favorite places to do that.  The whole “free things!” world on the internet can get really overwhelming and hard to sort through.  I’ve tried out quite a few, but these are the best in my opinion.

Here are the sites I use:

BzzAgent is a great site that site to use if you’re interested in discovering new products in exchange for reviews. 

Bzz Agent is a word-of-mouth marketing site.  They launch what they call “Bzz Campaigns” that feature certain products.  If you are selected, you receive the product in the mail (or online, depending on what it is).  Then you let them know who you told about the product, what they thought, etc.  The more you interact, the better your “Bzz Score”, and the more campaigns you get to sign up for.  I’ve got a lot of products through this site, so if you’re just starting out, I recommend starting here.

PinchMe is a sample site that will send you a box of samples you select.

They used to have new samples available every Tuesday, but it seems like they’ve lately only had them about once a month.  If you sign up on their site, they’ll send you a reminder email about when samples will be available to choose.  You definitely want to show up on time for this one as they seem to go fast.  

Influenster is a site that sends out boxes full of free goodies pretty frequently.

I have personally only received two boxes from them now, but I have not been as active on this site as others.  They have themes for every box (weddings, sports, etc) and if you fit the demographic they are looking for, they will send the box out to you for free.  I just got one in the mail last week and it was full of full-sized products that I am definitely going to use (nail polish, face cream, shaving cream, etc).  Once you have a box, you have activities to complete and just like with other sites - the more you do, the more you get.

Klout is a site that measures your social media influence and offers you “perks” for that influence.

On this site, you connect your facebook, twitter, instagram, etc and they measure how much of a response you get to your posts.  The more influence you seem to have, the more likely they are to offer you “perks” to try out.  So far I’ve received a few McDonald’s gift cards, and some online perks like digital magazine subscriptions.  I’ve missed out on a few offered to me because I didn’t respond to the invite quick enough and they all got taken.  So if you join Klout, make sure to keep an eye on those emails!

HouseParty is the site with the largest free items, in exchange for throwing a party and telling your friends about the product.

For example, around December I got a SodaStream unit (to keep!), flavor samples, and party supplies including a drink shaker and cups.  Soon, my party kit for the Redd’s Apple Ale party should be on it’s way which will have a gift card to purchase the alcohol and party supplies.  It’s a pretty great system.  It does take some time and effort to get selected for parties, but it’s totally worth it to get such great products for free.

There you have it!  Those are the best sites I’ve found so far for free products to discover.

Are there any great ones that I missed?

I joined Klout out of curiosity back when it was a new thing that everybody else was using, and I never understood how it’s math worked, so I never check it, ever. Also, I don’t even care enough about it to cancel my account. I get semi-regular emails that read, “Your Klout score went up!”, which I suppose I’m supposed to be excited about, but I have no idea what that means.


I guess?


Does anybody out there actually care about their “Klout score”?


If FICO & Klout Had A Baby

by Kanyi Maqubela
Venture Partner at Collaborative Fund

Credit, though we take it for granted, is a revolutionary human invention. Because I trust you, I will take as trade-value for this item, a payment at some point in the future. Today, though, you only get a promise. It is as old as commerce itself, and it is the grease upon which the wheels of our economic engine have run forever.

When Bill Fair and Earl Isaac created Fair, Isaac and Company (FICO) in 1956, they launched a product which had an extraordinary effect on commerce. Equifax was an O.G. big data company that had collected information on millions of Americans and Canadians. This data was used to assess risks for insurance providers, who were giving policies to consumers. FICO took data sources like Equifax to create a rating system not for insurance risk, but for any type of transaction, normalized across a set of behaviors: the credit score. Atop the credit score, companies like VISA, Diner’s Club, and others began launching credit cards, merchants around the country and world began accepting these credit cards, and consumer credit transformed. Originally, an individual’s credit-worthiness was limited to a local store owner’s comfort-level with that individual “keeping a tab open”. It was highly localized, and based on very relatable trust and reputation.

The credit score is outdated. Companies have launched since FICO, and the bureaus themselves have their own scores. But in the Information Era, where access to data about individuals is orders of magnitude better than at any time in human history, surely the big data that informs the credit score should evolve as well.

To date, measuring credit is limited to an individual’s credit history, which is Liabilities. It is repayment history, repayment percentages, and length of credit lines. But think about the store-owner who allowed customers to “keep a tab open” and you quickly realize that there are other things to measure, which are no less powerful indicators of an individual’s likelihood to keep the promise to pay, which I’ll list below.

Assets: Someone with $1,000,000 in savings today cannot buy a car using credit if she does not have a credit card. And even if she has a credit card, if she has limited credit, because she just got the card, she will pay a big penalty, with a high-interest rate. Measuring what an individual has solves that.

Behavior: Someone who has saved 30% of his paycheck for the last 10 years, but never opened a credit card, has no credit history. If that paycheck was only $50/month, that is clearly a very trustworthy individual. And there are other indicators that are also highly relevant, if less obvious. Say, for example, that he additionally never missed a class in college, has a 401K, and spends roughly the same amount every month?

Reputation: On the social web, there are signals about who an individual is that are understood by the collection of her network. Do her friends have stable behaviors? Are there people with data trails who can vouch for her? That local store-owner would want to know that the person they are opening a tab for isn’t a stranger to the community, and so measuring that activity is, itself, an indicator.

The credit score, and credit system more generally, is broken today. A system that strictly relies on liabilities, leaves out millions of trustworthy individuals who deserve access to credit. And as our financial system increasingly moves online, and credit becomes more and more central to access to bigger purchases, this is a social issue. At Collaborative Fund, we love discovering startups whose products are radically inclusive; it’s my favorite goal of technology. And one of the most effective ways to achieve that is through credit. We will announce some investments in this category soon, so stay tuned.

Parting thought: did you know that a big part of the popularity of payday lending isn’t the immediate cash, but the fact that the lenders develop warm, personal relationships with their customers in a local vernacular? It’s a more inclusive experience than a commercial bank. Loosening up credit does not have to mean making it riskier, nor does it have to be a matter of Fed policy. Just by being empathetic, and framing the data we are already capturing, we can provide risk-adjusted credit to the millions of Americans who don’t yet have it, but deserve it.

Discuss on our subreddit.

I sometimes wonder if luck may be weirdly harder to come by these days when so much of the world is discoverable without actually moving, when gut instinct often feels as though it’s been replaced by SEO results, or Klout score ratings, or Facebook profiles, or Instagram accounts. Not that I don’t enjoy these things also, or that I pine for the days before Seamless (I don’t), it’s just that I think it may be more difficult to rely on timing and opportunity as a way to get by when nearly every new lifestyle development is geared toward scheduling our lives in an increasingly streamlined fashion. We know so much all the time and we have come to depend so heavily on that access to knowledge, if not our own then the group’s, that we don’t spend any great time not-knowing. These days, not-knowing actually requires a determined effort. And yet there is so much power and opportunity to be had in the not knowing.