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How This Philippine Start-Up Found Marketing Gold in Selfies

Philippine-based Hoy connects brands and consumers in one platform

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BY Marishka M. Cabrera - 07 Sep 2016

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

When graphic artist Seph Mayol was watching the movie “Transformers,” an idea hit him. Throughout the movie, product placements were being done, albeit in a subtle manner. It was also during this time that the Philippines was hailed as the world’s “selfie capital.” And as he continued to put the two ideas together, he thought, “What if there’s a camera in front of us, in all of our daily activities, just like actors in movies? How many brands do you think you could show to your audience?”

As he dug deeper in various social media sites, he noticed that taking selfies with brands was already commonplace. This is when the idea for Hoy, a social media app where users can post their selfies with their favorite brands in exchange for rewards, was born. Hoy, in Filipino, approximates “Hey” - calling out to get someone’s attention.

“We want to have a community where users and brands can exist plainly, visibly and harmoniously with each other,” Mayol says.

He explains that one of the most common paths taken by social media networks in terms of monetization is to integrate ads to their platform, whether through direct or native advertising, which can be annoying to some and can get in the way of the user experience.

Hoy, launched in June, works by enabling users to choose the brand they want to patronize or a reward they want to pursue from the list before they can start posting their selfies. Users are given Goals, such as the number of Facebook likes, which they have to reach in order to claim a reward. This, in turn, motivates users to share the brand with their friends.

One of the key features of the app is the integration of Facebook Likes, which means that every user can maximize their existing Facebook friends and followers. For Hoy, this translates to a bigger audience that brands can get access to.

Mayol believes the relationship between customers and brands should neither start nor end with a purchase. “We want to elevate the relationship of the consumers and brands and make that connection beneficial to both parties—users patronize or promote brands and brands reward users,” he says.

For users, Hoy can be an add-on tool to their daily activities. “For example, before you go to work, when you stop by in a coffee shop to get your caffeine fix, that’s the perfect time to capture a memory with your favorite coffee brand and share it in Hoy,” Mayol says. “All of us have our own favorite brands and there is always a story behind it that you could share to your network.”

Hoy was co-founded by Mayol, whose background is in art direction and graphic design, particularly interactive design and creative coding. He used to do creative projects on and off the web for interactive agencies and design studios abroad. He now serves as CEO. Royce Albert Dy is co-founder and chief technology officer, who is a seasoned software engineer with experience in coding e-learning, location-based services, and cloud computing. Dy was the core developer of a virtual wallet app of one of the biggest network companies in the Philippines and has been downloaded by thousands of users.

Eight weeks since it launched, Hoy gained more than 9,500 users, which allowed the app to access a Facebook audience of more than 10 million. The company has already given close to hundred real rewards from more than 40 local and international brands, including shoes, local air flights, Bluetooth speakers, and toys.

For brands, Hoy is a great platform to interact with prospective and existing followers or customers, as well as an alternative to create brand or product awareness to the public. “In fact, there are a lot of ways the brands can utilize our platform, as long as they’ll be creative with their campaign and provide exciting rewards, users will surely join in with the craze,” Mayol says.