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I Just Broke up With foursquare

November 26, 2014 Leave a comment

Sorry foursquare, you're out.

Sorry foursquare, you’re out.

Dear foursquare,

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.

Kind regards,

Your former foursquare user

Event Marketing Using Social Media

October 28, 2010 2 comments

My friend Janice at Pierpont Place asked me to help her put together a last minute social media blitz to help market her fundraiser/Halloween party.  I have a few days off before I start the next phase in my life/business so I said, “sure!”  I called Janet Thaeler because she recently put together a successful last minute event.

Here’s what I did:

You need a hub.  Where are people going to go?  In this instance, it’s Facebook…specifically an event page.  Because it’s a fundraiser, there’s a potential media hook, so here’s the press release.  I also paid to have the release distributed to local news people.  Additionally, it was sent to several local bloggers who talk about the local social scene along with some photos from last year’s Halloween event.

I also used Twitter to promote by creating a Twitvite that is easily shareable and a hashtag for the event: #spookbash.  During the event  Visible Tweets will be showing, so people will be encouraged to tweet their location while they’re there.  Attendees will be encouraged to check in on foursquare in hopes of getting a “swarm” badge.

Finally, I put together a paid search campaign for Facebook that targets people in Salt Lake with an ad for the event.  I created a custom landing tab with the event flyer and 140 plus visitors have been sent to that page so far.  The campaign will end tomorrow.

For me, this isn’t just about an event.  By using Facebook, Pierpont Place will be able to get better traction with their audience since people are engaging directly with the company by “liking” their page.  Janice will be able to send future events and news to people who actually want to hear about it.

Misusing Social Media in America’s Legal System

August 31, 2010 9 comments

When Rod Blagojevich began his corruption trial, he was admonished by the judge to refrain from tweeting.  Since that time, I’ve been thinking about other social media behavior that’s probably a bad idea in the legal system.

Most normal people consider encounters with the legal system to be embarrassing or simply a pain to deal with.  Sometimes they’re both.  Despite this prevailing attitude, some people don’t stop to think before they tweet, update Facebook or check in.  Please don’t be like the three examples I’m about to tell you about.

1.  Checking in to court is a bad idea.  A friend of mine has a nasty little court problem she didn’t want to broadcast to her network, but she still wanted to check in on foursquare for the points.  Even though she didn’t broadcast the check ins, the second time there, she became the mayor and that did get published network wide.  Ooops!  Unless you want to explain to your friends and family why you’re in the District court, don’t check in.

2.  On the other side of the law is a Detroit juror who couldn’t wait to find the defendant guilty.  She updated her Facebook status saying,

it was “gonna be fun to tell the defendant they’re guilty.”

Now she could be facing jail time for contempt!  How did she get exposed?  The defense attorney’s son was looking up all the jurors and found Ms. Jons Facebook account unprotected.  I don’t know what was more foolish…discussing the case or not using the privacy settings on her account.  We don’t always think before we post something, but we can certainly limit the number of people who see it.

3.  Don’t tweet about going to jail.  Unless you’re an up and coming rapper who needs the street cred, don’t tweet about your jailhouse experiences.  Arguably mentally unstable, Amy Steele blogs about her ex-boyfriend who now has a restraining order against her.  When she decided to leave a voice mail to him, the police wound up at her door.  She tweeted,

Spent last night in the clink. Thanks for finding a phone call threatening Brian Schofer. 11:48 AM Aug 27th via Twitterrific

Later,

pretty sure i’m going to prison as even my mom blames me not the a-hole who took out restraining order. guess it solves my issues. #fb about 8 hours ago via TweetDeck

You can read more about Ms. Steele here and the full NSFW or for the easily offended version here.

Hopefully, you won’t have any the problems these case studies did, but if you do, now you know what not to do;

1.  Don’t check in at court or jail

2.  Don’t post jury information until after the trial is over

3.  Don’t tweet about your legal problems.  For that matter, you probably shouldn’t tweet about medical or relationship problems either.  Save that for the face to face.

Unofficial Foursquare Specials

August 5, 2010 5 comments

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.

Foursquare Partnerships

August 3, 2010 1 comment

Probably one of the biggest success strategies foursquare has developed is strategic partnerships with recognized brands.

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.

Before foursquare was growing the way it is now, I’m sure partnerships would have been difficult.  But even at launch, foursquare arranged to announce to the world at SXSW.  Since then;

In February 2010, the company entered into new commercial partnerships with Zagat, Bravo, Conde Nast, The New York Times and several other firms to offer tips, specials and new badges to followers

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!

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.

However…

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…

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.

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