I hate to do this before the holidays, but we’re through. I uninstalled your phone app yesterday. It’s been a long time coming and as an early adopter of your app, I’ve been patient. But it’s over now and there’s nothing you can do. I will however tell you what you did wrong.
First of all, you messed with the gaming system which is pretty much the reason I used your software. I checked in everywhere…and I mean everywhere…to get points, score higher than my friends and earn mayorships and badges. As a male user, I like rules and knowing if I do this, you’ll do that. You screwed up by changing point schemes, selling badges to the highest bidder and ignoring the game mechanism that made your app so sticky.
That I could live with, because your app provided some utility. I used it to check for restaurants or coffee shops around my location if I was feeling adventurous. I also used it to tell my Facebook friends where I was. But then you created Swarm.
I never downloaded it. I figured it would be a bad idea when I saw Dennis Crowley defending it on a Robert Scoble Facebook post. Then my friends who did download it started complaining about ease of use, functionality and being a phone resource piggy. I still checked in using foursquare.
Like a lot of people, I started seeing a downside to telling all my friends, family and Facebook “friends” where I was all the time. For me, checking in became more of a special occasion instead of a religious compulsion like it was when your gaming system worked.
Last Saturday was the last straw. When you forced me to download Swarm to make a check in, I was through. I wanted to post I was at the football game and your app loaded, it told me where I was, but when I hit check in, it took me to the Play store to upgrade to Swarm. Sorry, I’m not going to do that, ever. So I just checked in with Facebook.
That’s when I realized I don’t need you any more foursquare. It took me a few days to act on it, but I deleted your app yesterday. Unless you do something really amazing, I’m going to stop talking about you as well.
I know you’re probably thinking, “Facebook force upgraded people with it’s messenger app, why can’t we?” The answer is simple, people need the utility found in messenger, they don’t need to check in anywhere…ever. You took the fun out of it, so nobody wants to either. I didn’t want the messenger app, but I had no choice. People have a choice with checking in, with location search, with adding photos and all the other things your app does. We’re just not choosing to do it with you any more.
So, this is it. I’d suggest we be friends, but we both know that’s a lie. I wish you the best in your future endeavors.
Your former foursquare user
This is day 13 of fourteen days of foursquare. We’ve written about the ways real businesses are using foursquare to impact their marketing. Many of the examples mentioned have been big, national companies. It takes time to get an officially programed mayor special or badge through at foursquare.
The good news, is you don’t need one! Create a special and add it to a “tip” on your foursquare profile. Customers may already be doing this for you!
One of the first specials I ever saw was a user generated tip for Kobe Sushi by my house. Wednesday nights are half off!
When I set up the mayor special for Fats Grill and Pool, we didn’t go through “official” channels. I added the tip to the page and iPhone users can see it when they check in. Another user added they have free pool during the day. You don’t need official channels to be effective on foursquare.
Pounder’s Grill is a local business that does have an official mayor special and that can help. They also engage in a number of social media platforms, so it’s not surprising they’re such a great example of local social media use.
Besides Starbucks, Iceberg drive in is the only other local business I’m aware of with an official offer.
Why be official? Be unofficial. Create a great offer that people will talk about. Create great service that makes people come back over and over again. Create a great product that people will buy no matter the price!
Sometimes a special isn’t even necessary. If you’re aware of a badge that exists, make sure your venue is tagged appropriately. People will check in and share just because of that. Is your restaurant Zagat rated? There’s a badge for that. Is your venue a boat? There’s a badge for that too!
The more you know about foursquare and social media is the more you should know being “unofficial” is part of it. Be yourself and your business will do well with social media.
When you visit their main site and log in, a slew of partners greets you at the bottom of the page.
I’ve actually struggled writing this article because so many new partners are coming on board so fast! While not every partner has a badge associated with them, many do. One of the early partners was Harvard University that allowed special check in badges on campus. In South Africa, the World Cup had venue parties and in the U.S. CNN had WC watch parties with associated badges.
Now that they’re growing at a clip of 15,000 users per day, everybody wants to be involved. Recently, the TV show Gossip Girl created a relationship and you can now check in mid-flight to earn a mile-high-club badge courtesy of GoGo Inflight. You don’t even have to cram into a plane lavatory with a partner to unlock it!
Besides increased purchases of smart-phones capable of using the foursquare applications, I credit foursquare’s exponential growth with an offer partnership with Starbucks back in June. Even though the offer wasn’t great, the publicity for both companies was tremendous. That was the breakout offer for foursquare. They went from barely a million users to nearly two million users during that single month!
Foursquare partnerships have been all about publicity and awareness. Sometimes that isn’t a bad thing!
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…
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.
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.
According to Freelancer.com, 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.
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