Posted by Andrew Krebs-Smith in Social Media Marketing
Social media sites, and the apps that filter information into profiles, have changed the way that people communicate. In March of 2009 social media and geo-targeting by location became intertwined. We went from a society influenced by direct messaging, to a race focused on gaining prizes and badges for signing in upon arrival: everyone needs to know that I am at my office, apartment, subway station, favorite cafe, the bookstore, or the pharmacy.
In 2001 I obsessively updated my AOL Instant Messenger status to showcase whatever I was doing in my dorm, learning in my classes, or experiencing on campus; life has dramatically changed for the freshman at Florida State University (and around the globe). Brace yourself: I’m almost 30…and my life would be completely different if I’d been enrolled today. Imagine: wi-fi in every classroom, teachers liking your Facebook statuses (even the one about falling asleep in their post-modern-theory-lecture), and your academic dean following your Twitter feed (and giving stars to you when they see information posted pertaining to your major and college). Unfortunately, for both faculty and students, the Internet has mixed academia, business and professional relationships with quasi-personal spheres: social media profiles. There is no such thing as online privacy!
There are multitudes of social networks, but one has gained international attention for its ability to connect its user base through micro-publishing. With over 750,000 developed business pages, and 20 million active users, foursquare is the second most powerful check-in tool (trailing behind Facebook’s updating users). Foursquare hit its billionth check-in last September, and has steadily grown its membership (or its Facebook and Twitter connect numbers). Foursquare offers business owners and consumers a unique perspective on the marketplace: like Yelp, foursquare users can review establishments, and recommend specific goods and services; similar to Foodspotting, foursquare users can take images of food and retail items, and place them in the stream of the businesses that they have checked into; like sweepstakes, foursquare users gain prizes (badges), and receive discounts (based on the independent location and if the proprietors placed a deal); owners are able to tabulate who has entered their cafe, what they ate, if they were with other people, and how many times they have visited: this is guerrilla market research. In one of the most recent rounds of updates, foursquare announced the inclusion of events and festivals to the highlighted check-in fields. This is great news! Events are now able to simultaneously monitor the messages attendees are sending out, and who has come through the gates.
Foursquare has created a frenzy- causing a rush to create apps and websites using the API foursquare feed. There are multiple check-in sites that have tried to compete with the foursquare model- the majority of which have been edged out, or considered obsolete technology based on the resources and funding that foursquare uses to keep itself at #2; ShopKick rewards its users with monetary incentives, and TunerFish is geared towards checking-in to different television programs. Gowalla, SCVNGR and Loopt are based on search engines that have filters tied to Bing and Google. These micro-sites are much smaller check-in communities, and some of their posts are filtered into search results within foursquare (ScoutMob is now tied to foursquare, and you can check-in through FoodSpotting when enjoying an entree). Foursquare is huge: President Obama checks in! Foursquare and American Express are partnered, and have created deals with small business owners nationwide. If you connect your American Express credit card information with your foursquare account, and purchase items with this credit card, you will receive exclusive offers and discounts through foursquare and American Express. These offers will be tailored to you- based on your foursquare history (where you have gone, what you have bought, and who you have checked in with).
Multitudes of sites have popped up- all of these platforms using the pool of information that foursquare has generated (through its users participation and check-in documentation). Here are some of my favorite apps using the foursquare formulas, all connecting data to locations:
- Foursquare has grown its audience in the UK; a new app When Should I Visit? filters through local user check-in information, and defines opportune times to visit 20 unique London landmarks (all with heavy traffic patterns, now being monitored through the foursquare check-in filters: if there are a lot of people in one location, When Should I Visit? tells its audience to steer clear).
- FourWhere is an app that combines foursquare tips and comments with Google maps. The reviews of establishments streams into Google searches when you use FourWhere (they do not appear on the main Google map pages).
- GetGlue has millions of users- and recently added a foursquare check-in field to it’s topic check-in features. If you check-in to the Avengers movie, you can now define the theater location you are watching at, and receive points on your foursquare account, while also gaining badges on your GetGlue profile. GetGlue is a micro-site that allows users to connect their feeds to Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook and foursquare (not only are you letting everyone know what you are reading, watching, listening to, or thinking about- you are now telling them where you finished the last Oprah’s book club selection, watched the Miami Heat playoff game, listened to Mumford & Sons, and thought about social media optimization tools.
- Girls Around Me has received a lot of negative attention for its filters that connect its users to personal Facebook pages; I still think its genius. Like the dating app OKCupid, Girls Around Me’s app pools data together, and lists the foursquare members using the platform within a certain geographic framework (want to meet a man in a certain age bracket- that likes to eat dinner, and check-in wherever he goes, and he needs to be within five miles of Brooklyn? You should download Girls Around Me).
- After signing up at hashtagmom.com, you can add #mom to your Foursquare check-in along with a short accompanying message and choose whether to send her an automated call or text. I’m 29 and I still tell my mother when I’m home (and she is in Florida, thousands of miles from Brooklyn). This would have been great during college: all of those 3:30 am AIM away messages letting my mom know I’d arrived home (drunk) and safe…oh, I miss you keg parties!
- BlindSquare integrates Foursquare data with Apple’s nativeVoiceOver technology to create a location-based virtual map through sound. When the app is enabled, it reads addresses, street names and surrounding locations aloud.
- Forecast is an app for both iOS and Android mobiles and tablets. Through the connection of the foursquare API feed, Forecast has created a means of sharing your daily calendar with your future check-in locations! As the mayor of Basil in Brooklyn, you are letting the owners know you are on the way by Forecast’ing 3 hours beforehand (I’ll be there, with @starrackerman, tell my #mom, at 6:30, tomorrow!).
Foursquare is updating its platform this week; previews of changes to the maps appearance were released through corporate tweets, and its rumored that business owners can pay for additional promotional placements. With the integration into Facebook’s timeline last week, foursquare has come full circle. Your business needs to pay attention to its foursquare presence, knowing that it is a way to aggregate market research on your establishment! You will know your consumers face, how many time they have been by, if they are the champion and own your establishments mayorship, and if they have a badge for a frequent visitor. Like Yelp, UrbanSpoon, Google Places, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Pinterest- this microsite is necessary (its being used more than other social media tools, and you want to make sure that you stay ahead of the crowd). Go ahead, claim your business page- right now- for $10. You must. It’s imperative.