House Party Leverages On and Offline Strategy to Compete in Viral Marketing

2/16/12Follow @jpruth

Brand marketers often work themselves into a lather to generate buzz about their products on social networks, but tweets and “likes” may not be enough to drive sales. Social media company House Party in Irvington, NY, uses a different strategy that combines offline gatherings with online tools to get the word out to consumers. House Party matches people who host private parties with sponsors who provide products to reach potential customers on a personal level.

At first glance, one might think this is a rehash of the Tupperware party concept—and to some extent it is. However, House Party also measures the responses online to its sponsored parties, which gives marketers intelligence on how consumers are reacting to their products.

Chris Maher, CEO of House Party, says his company’s digital platform meshes with traditional word-of-mouth marketing—and that’s what differentiates it from other social media companies. Photos and videos taken at the parties are posted on House Party’s website, which helps stir online discussions about the brands via blog posts, Facebook, and Twitter. House Party also conducts surveys about the products to give the sponsors feedback from these potential customers. “We are a conversation and recommendation engine,” Maher says.

And that engine recently got more fuel to help it race ahead of other social media companies. In January, House Party raised $5.3 million in a Series C round led by Acadia Woods Partners. Maher says seven-year-old House Party has raised about $9 million in total funding so far. The latest infusion of cash will go towards bolstering the company’s sales and marketing, as well as the development of the online platform. Maher says he plans to expand the company’s staff of 60 with 10 new hires within the next eight months.

A promise of attracting partygoers is naturally not enough to satisfy sponsors. Maher says House Party uses social-media monitoring company Radian6 to measure the online buzz generated by the parties arranged on its website. House Party also … Next Page »

João-Pierre S. Ruth is the editor of Xconomy New York. He can be reached at jpruth@xconomy.com and followed on Twitter @jpruth. Follow @jpruth

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