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This post is part of Mashable’s Spark of Genius series, which highlights a unique feature of startups. If you would like to have your startup considered for inclusion, please see the details here. The series is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark.


Quick Pitch: Trusted recommendations and social media for the social good. It’s Aardvark meets Amazon reviews meets Twitter and Facebook.

Genius Idea: Friends love to share information about great products with each other. According to a survey by Publicis last year, 46% of Facebook users said they would discuss or recommend a product on Facebook, while another 44% have already recommended a product on Twitter. And almost a third of respondents said they had learned about a product, service or brand via a social networking site.

Not only do friends love to recommend products to each other, but friends also trust these recommendations. According to Nielsen, recommendations from personal acquaintances is the most trusted form of advertising worldwide.

Enter allows you to recommend products to your friends via your social networks in three easy steps. First, search for the product you want to recommend on their website. Next, explain in 140 characters or less why you’re recommending it. After completing the prompt to log in via Facebook or Twitter, you’ll then be given a shortened URL to share information about the product via e-mail, Facebook, Twitter and nearly a dozen other social networking platforms. If someone makes a purchase via your recommendation, the charity of your choice will receive the majority of’s revenue from the sale — you are not compensated. You will also receive an acknowledgment of your contribution via e-mail.

I tried out the service myself by recommending an edition of one of my favorite novels, Howard’s End by E.M. Forester, to my Twitter followers. If anyone follows through on my referral, a percentage of the proceeds will go to the Red Cross.

The best part about the service, in my opinion, is that it lends credibility to your recommendations. Reviewers on blogs and other media outlets are often accused of being secretly compensated for the recommendations they make via affiliate marketer programs like Amazon’s. If you use, readers will know that your recommendations are genuine because there is complete transparency about the compensation process. Even better, your favorite cause can benefit from your love of sharing great products with your networks.

Sponsored by Microsoft BizSpark

BizSpark is a startup program that gives you three-year access to the latest Microsoft development tools, as well as connecting you to a nationwide network of investors and incubators. There are no upfront costs, so if your business is privately owned, less than three years old, and generates less than U.S.$1 million in annual revenue, you can sign up today.

Entrepreneurs can take advantage of the Azure Services platform for their website hosting and storage needs. Microsoft recently announced the “new CloudApp()” contest – use the Azure Services Platform for hosting your .NET or PHP app, and you could be the lucky winner of a USD 5000* (please see website for official rules and guidelines).”

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Reviews: Aardvark, Facebook, PHP, Twitter,

Tags: affiliate marketing, facebook,, twitter