I asked a colleague the other day, “What is Foursquare?” and his answer was 16! Great sense of humour I said, that answer should make you our honouree mayor.
For the uninitiated, Foursquare is a location-based social networking site where users earn points and sometimes badges for “checking in” at venues using their mobiles.
The view of Foursquare currently is much as it was when cellphones first came out and people said they would never get one because they didn’t want to be contactable all the time; equally, they didn’t want a Facebook or Twitter account to share or read mundane, pointless drivel – who cares if someone has just gone to the bog!
Cultural shifts will continue, becoming quicker, bigger and more powerful, so we may as well try to understand them, get our hands dirty and monetise them where we can. I’m not talking specifically about Foursquare. I’m referring to the internet, and the internet is only starting to go through puberty.
Foursquare, Twitter, Facebook and the rest are just powerful marketing tools to leverage your business – see them as office equipment, the old fax machine or typewriter, but easier to use. I believe the “next big thing” will have a greater sense of personalisation and location-based offering. Location is the game-changer for social media; if it’s not Foursquare, it will be some other location-based marketing tool, so you know where Wally is.
So why check in, then? Well, if checking in gets you a free beer, you’ll do it! Burp.
Foursquare is very much in the same boat as Twitter was a few years back. The early adopters have started to drink the free beer, myself included, but for the most part it remains a service completely misunderstood. It’s starting to catch on, people are starting to sit up, take notice and actually use it. To those of you not playing, it may sound like a joke, but don’t knock it till you’ve try it.
Foursquare was created to motivate people to discover interesting things around them. It is one of the more practical location-based social networking applications, and its value can only truly be gleaned by using it. You earn points for every check-in and further points for being adventurous (exploring different parts of the city), for hitting up multiple spots in one night and eventually for the tips other people try and the to-dos you complete.
So members are awarded with badges for performing tasks, including the Super Mayor badge (awarded when someone is mayor of 10 different places at once), the Entourage badge (for checking-in with 10 friends), the Gym Rat badge (for 10 trips to the gym in 30 days), and even the Last Degree badge (for checking-in at the North Pole). Mayorship is key. Should you check-in at the same location a few times, you’ll become the mayor of that spot, and though it sounds silly in theory, in practice it’s
incredibly sticky. Being mayor is pretty cool, and you may find yourself actively trying to maintain your power, which is good for your game stats, good for the business, and great for creating competition amongst friends. Online culture still is the culture, and as a crucial consumer trend, we will see a rise in online status symbols in the next 12 months. After all, status symbols reflect our lifestyle like nothing else.
So we kind of know how it works, and you’re right, management will ask: “How do we scale it, what is the ROI of social media?” They could equally ask what the ROI is in helping an old lady carry her PnP bags to her car or sending a client a birthday card; how do you ever measure, when it comes to customer service with a smile? Location-base marketing is pure customer service: it’s about understanding your consumers, listening to them, plotting their behaviour path, engendering customer loyalty, increasing awareness for your product or service and boosting acquisitions.
Some good examples:
- In the States they call it The Big Game for a reason. A few weeks ago, Foursquare experienced a pretty enormous response to Super Bowl Sunday. With over 200 000 Super Bowl Sunday check-ins from parties around the world, in four hours it became their most checked into venue ever (and the largest online check-in event of all time).
- Starbucks offered $1 off any size Frappuccino for its mayors. Since running their Mayor Special on Foursquare, Starbucks (already the most checked-into retailer on the platform prior to running the Special) has seen a 50% increase in check-ins at its locations.
- International pizza delivery corporation Domino’s Pizza recently revealed a 29% surge in pre-tax profits. And the company says the strong increase in its online sales is thanks to its promotions on local-based mobile app Foursquare, as well as social media.
- Local retailers need to “get their hands dirty” and start to reward mayorship status (most loyal customer), based specials and discounts. (I’m the mayor of RamsayMedia and I have not received a pay increase! :))
There are great opportunities for media owners. Populate check-in points with your content, eg information about restaurants or tourist sites or the latest road test to those who visit a local dealership. Obvious benefits include building a community of followers, collaborative deals with retailers to reward customers who buy your magazines, collaboration with clients to encourage your followers to purchase their products or services, and encouraging check-ins at your events and shows.
Of course, there is a serious downside to location-based tools. Be sensible about any information you share in social media, otherwise you risk collecting the Please Rob Mebadge! To avoid this, make sure you only accept friends you can trust onto Foursquare! And try not link your Foursquare posts to Twitter and Facebook, thereby telling the whole social media world where you are … and as importantly, where you aren’t.
So where in the world is Wally?
Follow Dean on Twitter: @dixxiedean
This story was was originally published on www.ramsaymedia.co.za
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