“THIS is good, old-fashioned word-of-mouth marketing, but amplified for the digital age and scalable through our innovative technology.” That’s how beer tycoon James Watt describes his new business venture Social Tip, an app platform “designed to help make anyone an influencer”.

The controversial entrepreneur, who co-founded Aberdeenshire-based beer behemoth BrewDog in 2007, confirmed last month that he was stepping away from the day-to-day running of the company and relinquishing the role of chief executive in favour of a newly-created position of “captain and co-founder”, but retaining his shares in the company.

Mr Watt, who stated his desire to “concentrate on his other projects and interests”, has secured backing from Haatch, a UK tech investment fund, and the British Investment Bank, for his start-up venture Social Tip which rewards “everyday people for posting about the brands they love by paying them in real cash”.

BrewDog co-founder James Watt steps down as beer company CEO

Already signed up are high-profile brands including pet food firm Bella & Duke, Huel, PureGym, Slug & Lettuce, Virgin Pure, and BrewDog, in which the businessman remains heavily involved.

“This is good, old-fashioned word of mouth marketing but amplified for the digital age and scalable through our innovative technology,” said Mr Watt. “The most powerful marketing we ever had for BrewDog had nothing to do with us. It wasn’t the stunts, and it certainly wasn’t advertising. It was everyday people sharing their love for our products.

“With Social Tip, we want to release the power of authentic brand love, so that fans get meaningful rewards for posting about their favourite brands, businesses and experiences.”

Social Tip’s proprietary AI-based algorithm calculates the value of posts – based on views, likes and engagement – and rewards users by depositing cash to their Social Tip accounts.

Suggesting that traditional influencer marketing – globally worth about £24 billion – has “always had a credibility problem”, Mr Watt noted: “No-one believes that celebrities or the biggest TikTokers and YouTubers just happen to be really into a brand. That’s why the power of conventional influencer endorsement is limited and dwindling.”

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By contrast, Mr Watt believes the cumulative effect of “authentic brand love from people you know is transformative”. He noted: “Give me a choice between paying thousands of pounds to a social media personality to fake love my brand or rewarding masses of genuine, loyal fans, and it’s no contest.”

He said that in addition to rewarding users for promoting the brands they love, Social Tip will also be the first-ever repository of user-generated brand content, and the first opportunity for everyday consumers to monetise their posts by licensing images and rights for advertising and marketing.”

Speaking to The Herald, the entrepreneur said: “I was quite surprised that nobody had attempted to build a business like this. I did some research and got excited – and we’re about six weeks away from launch.”

According to Social Tip, conventional ways of marketing are becoming less and less effective with 70% of people no longer trusting adverts. It said: “Gen Z are allergic to anything that looks or feels like marketing, and it is increasing difficult for brands to connect authentically on fragmented online platforms. In short, the old ways of marketing are broken.”

Fred Soneya, co-founder of investor Haatch, said: “There is no denying that how consumers purchase products and services is heavily influenced by social content.

“Our attraction to investing in Social Tip is threefold: trust in paid advertising continues to fall; rewarding verified purchasers who share on social creates significant ROI for the brand while continuing to build loyalty with customers; and backing the B2B platform which is distributed by the largest brands is the scalable strategy.

“With James at the helm, we’re excited to support Social Tip to become the first and fastest-growing platform rewarding true user-generated (UCG)-backed by verified purchases.”

Alongside Mr Watt, the founding Social Tip team includes Thomas Matecki, former chief technology officer of Zilch, said to be the fastest fintech to reach double unicorn status, and Georgia Lee, former managing director of premium food delivery service Supper.

It was reported last week that Mr Watt has invested in “15 to 20” start-up businesses, including leading a £500,000 funding round for soft drinks firm Living Things last week.