When you’re looking for an event to go to, a product to buy, or a non-profit to support, do you pay attention to advertising or do you listen to what your friends recommend? Goodbuzz from Lithuania blurs the lines by paying people for referrals of products and events on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, or by email. How it works is that advertisers post their advertisement to the Goodbuzz website and deposit a sum of money for people who like the advertisment and want to spread the message to friends and followers. At the end of the campaign, the tip is split between these sharers, relative to the leads they’ve generated.

This offers advertisers a way to tap into social media on a local level, and pay the most money to actual leads generated. In this sense it can be a highly efficient form of advertising.

When compared to legitimate grassroots support, this sort of advertising is called “Astroturfing” after the fake plastic grass seen on football pitches and indoor arenas. When you share a link to a promoted product it will say something like “Warm Yourself: Handmade Knit & Crochet Designs. Promotion of Mawuna Koutonin” and the link will take you to the GoodBuzz website, meaning your friends will know what they’re clicking on. As long as this sort of social advertising is honest in the sense that it’s obviously advertising, I think I’m okay with it. Goodbuzz has a solid concept and and is an interesting startup to watch, but it makes me wonder what’s in store for our brave new social world.