Archive for July, 2010

Real Life User Benefits of Foursquare

July 28, 2010 5 comments

In this series on foursquare, Janet and I have spoken a lot about business impact of the location based social media platform.  Though that is our focus, I’m going to take today to discuss the consumer side and what that means for business.

When I proposed a foursquare special for a a Salt Lake bar and grill, the first thing the co-owner did was add the special to the register.  That’s when I knew I was dealing with a smart business person.  I love tracking!

Though he was new to the idea, the first thing that came to mind was to measure it.  Smart.

It’s too bad the person that posted this receipt on Twitter didn’t include the business’ name because Foursquare picked it up and shot it out to 70,000 plus Facebook fans.  That doesn’t actually matter, because the people in the original poster’s network saw it and they are the most important people to see it.

I have friends who don’t see the value of foursquare.  The 10% this person saved can’t be that useful, but the advertising benefit they provided the restaurant is incalculable.  That’s exactly why businesses should provide an offer and promote it to death.  What will drive foursquare growth and local business profits is going to be local businesses promoting the medium and providing value typical consumers don’t see.

Department stores offer a standard 10% discount for getting a store credit card.  How much more powerful is that offer if a delivery mechanism to hundreds of like minded individuals is in place?  There already is one and it’s called foursquare!

On our podcast a few weeks ago, I suggested foursquare’s exponential growth was tied to a recent promotion with Starbucks.  Surely that is part of the reason, but so is the wider adoption of smart phones that can actually acommodate foursquare applications.  As more people upgrade to smart phones, foursquare use is bound to increase.


People won’t continue to use foursquare just because of the game aspect.  They want awesome discounts and they want information about places they’ve never been before.  This is where businesses need to step up and offer compelling deals and provide information about their own venues.

My point of this article is pretty simple; businesses need to make compelling offers.  In Salt Lake the only one that seems to be of value to me is the one I engineered.  It has a great offer for the Mayor and a compelling offer just for checking in.

All the other offers I’ve seen are minor in comparison.  Sorry Starbucks…


Foursquare Etiquette at Weddings

July 27, 2010 4 comments

As with any new and hip social media trend there can be some side effects such as addiction and annoying your friends. There are times when Foursquare check-ins may be just a bit obnoxious. A funeral comes to mind. Or a wedding.*

Some brides aren’t happy with someone live tweeting or checking in to their weddings. Although right now I’m not sure that’s a huge issue when it comes to Foursquare I can see how live tweeting a wedding could get annoying. (Note: According to Forrester: 84% of respondents aren’t familiar with location-based apps like Foursquare & Gowalla).

Today’s foursquare article comes from Janet who suggests you don’t “check-in” or tweet at your friend’s weddings. It turns out the bride’s don’t like the running commentary online of their special day.

An interesting side note is only 16% of respondents knew what foursquare was, but that’s another story.

I’ll be attending a wedding in two months for a bride that is an active foursquare user, so it will be interesting to see what she thinks.

Here’s a bigger question. What about tweeting or updating Facebook with photos of the event while it’s happening? It would certainly benefit interested parties who couldn’t attend wouldn’t it?

Pizza Hut Builds Huge Following Across Platforms

July 26, 2010 2 comments

You’ve got to give the marketing folks at Pizza Hut some kudos for their social media efforts.

In day six of Janet Thaeler’s and my foursquare case study series, I’m going to take a look at how Pizza Hut used foursquare, Facebook and Twitter to engage their audience.

Back in May, while the primary season was in full swing, Pizza Hut launched a social media campaign to expand it’s influence and asked customers to vote for a special offer they launched last Fall.

The vote for the offer was tied to Facebook, but supported by Twitter and foursquare.  It looks like it has worked out well.  Pizza Hut has 1.4 million fans on Facebook and about 31,000 followers on Twitter. 

Acting as “campaign manager” for the promotion was Alexa Robinson who is the official Pizza Hut Tweetologist.  (Sounds like a made up job title to me.)  Her story is interesting because she started out as an intern for Pizza Hut and that turned into a full time position as Tweetologist.

The campaign was successful and Pizza Hut’s $10 any pizza deal has no anticipated end date.  Pizza Hut is a division of Yum Brands and this promotion helped the chain see sales gains in same-store sales beat every other division in the fast food empire.

Largely on the strength of the $10 deal, Pizza Hut posted stronger sales than its sister companies. At Taco Bell, sales at restaurants open at least a year were up 1 percent in the second quarter but sales at KFC, the nation’s largest chicken chain, were off by 7 percent.

Yum’s other brands also have a large amount of Facebook fans, but those divisions engage differently with their customers.  KFC has no custom landing tab, while Taco Bell has a game and video to engage fans. 

Is Pizza Hut’s success due to foursquare?  I don’t think so, but I do think they managed to effectively use social media and a killer deal to build sales and customer base in an economy that is still feeling the pinch of recession.

Ford Automatically Checks In

July 23, 2010 Leave a comment

Janet’s got a clever article about Ford’s venture into social media using a vehicle that automatically tweets and checks in on foursquare.

She followed it up with a mention of the new technology Mark Cuban is researching that would incorporate facial recognition technology to automatically “check-in” to any location. That would allow businesses to instantly recognize their best customers.

I’ve said before that foursquare mayors are theoretically any venue’s best customers because they “tell” more people about the business by checking in. However, that’s not true in every case. Last night I stopped by the Cotton Bottom for a garlic burger. This is only the third time I’ve ever been there. When I checked in, I became the mayor. I actually felt bad about it because three tables away were some people I met the last time I was there who I know frequent the place more than me, yet I was the mayor.

The technology Mark Cuban is looking at will eliminate this unfair creation of venue evangelism elites.

Foursquare for a Job?

July 22, 2010 5 comments

According to, the fastest growing segment of freelance jobs in the world are in the geolocation space.  Leading that space of course is foursquare.

Geolocation grabbed the number one spot this quarter as the location wars heated up. While Foursquare and Twitter battled it out, freelance workers reaped the benefits seeing a whopping 909% increase in geolocation jobs online.

I can personally attest to this as I’ve obtained clients because of my knowledge of foursquare.  People make fun of me for doing things like checking in too much (oversharing…there’s a badge for that) or checking in to my house, but by using the service extensively, I’ve become an expert.

That’s one of the things technology professionals have to do is identify new trends, services or software and learn more than their client.  You don’t have to know it all, you just have to know where to find the information. 

So, what’s the best way to get a job about foursquare?  Play the game, use the service and know more than your competition.

Foursquare for Fun – Six Flags

July 21, 2010 Leave a comment

To earn a Six Flags Funatic foursquare badge you need to check in 10x at the same park (there are locations throughout the world).  When you do you’ll be entered to win a 2011 “Exit Pass.”  The badge will be available to fans until Sept. 7, 2010. Those who earn the badge will also be entered into a drawing to win a season pass for the winner and a guest. That means it’s free but also no waiting in lines for an entire year.

Here’s the fun part – each park’s present Six Flags foursquare “Mayor” on Sept. 7 will also win a 2011 Season Pass.

Think that will drive more visits to the parks? Yes, so do I!

This is post number three in our series on using foursquare in real life. Six Flags has some pretty good offers. Hey Lagoon…take note.

We’ll be talking about more foursquare for businesses on today’s Web Marketing Weekly Show, the podcast we do each week on marketing topics. See more here:

Foursquare and Professional Sports

July 20, 2010 3 comments

I’m always amused every four years when some patriotic American exclaims, “Who cares about World Cup soccer…the Superbowl is the highest rated sport on the planet!”

Well, if you do the math…which Americans are not so highly rated at…you’ll understand a full half a billion more people worldwide watch the World Cup final than the Superbowl.  It’s ok Captain America, you didn’t know otherwise.

Regardless, passion about sports is undeniable.  That’s one reason foursquare created a badge opportunity for not only the NBA Finals, but also the World Cup.  Indeed, NYC based foursquare recently spoke at a Forrester Research conference regarding the Boston Celtics and the Bruins.

Granted, the Celtics made it further this year in their respective sport, but the opportunity for fans to identify with a brand online was unprecedented.  Identifying with either of the NBA finalists was as simple as a check in on foursquare with the phrase #go(finalist team) and #NBA.

World Cup check in badges were harder…either you needed to do it at a venue in South Africa, or at an official CNN sponsored watch party in the U.S.  You also needed to follow CNN on foursquare.  For a small market city like SLC, these badges were impossible to get, yet still built brand recognition for those who cared about foursquare and the World Cup.

Right now, badges are a big deal for foursquare.  I don’t see the business future in badges and their founder Dennis Crowley has stated he wants to limit official foursquare badges.  The fact is, a legitimate foursquare check in to a business is much more important than a punch card or a loyalty card.

With the ability to share check ins to multiple social media platforms, foursquare has a multiplier factor as big as any user’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and blog audience.  When I check in and share to my entire network, I’m giving a personalized commercial to over 1500 people.

And I don’t have a big network!

Dennis Crowley doesn’t want to create a bunch of badges, but it seems to me an obvious product is a digital loyalty card using his service.  It’s a whole lot easier to manage and reward great customers using foursquare than any other platform.  If you get a free drink, coffee, sandwich, appetizer or entrée from a loyalty program, isn’t foursquare the best platform to share it on?  The answer is yes and Crowley and company need to develop and capitalize on this realization.

Foursquare can spend a lot of time and energy developing badges for professional teams and that will certainly develop a lot of cachet for their brand, but everyday experiences, if properly monetized, can provide a whole lot more for the customer, retailer and foursquare.

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