/ -- The old, universal 'like' model of social media is getting a facelift as a new startup turns likes into cash. On April 12th, Belacam.com will be opening its doors for anyone to help test the site.
Belacam is a standalone photo-sharing site that is completely separate from Instagram. It makes use of an automated micropayment system to send a small amount of money from one user to another with each 'like'. For example, when Dave 'likes' Sally's photo, Dave automatically gives Sally a few cents from his own account. Sally can withdraw that money or use it to like other users' posts.
The site is opening for anyone to use and test out so the Belacam developers can garner crowd-sourced feedback before converting the site to an app. Open beta testers will be able to create accounts, follow users, post pictures and GIFs, manage profiles, and give and receive money through liking photos.
After receiving early feedback from testing, the team will be introducing new features over the next few months to make the site more dynamic. Unlike Instagram, these features will include customizable sidebars and ads that pay you to interact with them. Advertisers will be able to get responses to surveys, collect email addresses, and deliver other interactive content.
Beta testing is a critical stage of the platform's development that comes before the full launch, planned for summer of 2017. The full launch will include the release of a mobile Belacam app from which the team thinks they will acquire most of their user base.
Belacam creates one of the first social media economies where money is directly integrated into online social interaction. Most importantly, it is the first of these economies centered around image-sharing. Belacam will have wide appeal but is expected to be particularly well received by Generation Z: the demographic body of people born later than 1995. Members of Generation Z are creative, prefer images over text, and respond better to financial incentives than other generations.
Although mainstream social media economies may still be a few years away, Belacam is well-positioned to be a frontrunner in the business of facilitating economic social media transactions.
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