Sunday, January 30, 2011

Have you checked in to Foursquare?

Remember the time before Facebook?  From what I can remember, all of us would go to our Myspace pages (from our computer no less) and share pictures and messages.  One of the most important aspects about personalizing you page was picking the most appropriate song that represents your page the best.  Now it seems we have never-ending buffet of ways to communicate and share content with one another.  Facebook has changed the way we communicate with people forever.  From this point, all we can do is evolve; and we have.  We are constantly finding new ways to connect with one another.  Even video games have jumped on the bandwagon and have created games that allow users to create and share content.  The Playstation game Little Big Planet, allows players to build there own worlds and share them with other players online.  It seems every day we invent a new way to interact with one another.  One of the newer channels that I’m extremely interested in is Foursquare.  How effective is it and how can it be used in a public relations campaign?
FourSquare in a nutshell
For those of you who have been living under a rock, Foursquare is a service that allows people to check in when they arrive at a certain location.  By checking in, you can allow friends to see where you are, provide information about the location, and win awards for checking into certain locations the most times.  The coveted “mayor” title means you have checked in the most to a certain location.  It could also mean you will reap some sort of benefit from visiting that location the most.  The thing that has made this location enabled social media device so popular is the game aspect of it.  Even if you aren’t monetarily rewarded for checking in the most to a location, the title of mayor can be reward enough.  Loopt, Brightkite, Gowalla, and even Google Latitude have all tried to use location enabled software to connect people, but none of these programs have done it as well as Foursquare has.  
FourSquare as a tool 
Duct Tape Marketing wrote,  "7 Reasons Why Small Businesses Should Take a Look at Foursquare" A lot of these reasons why small businesses should adopt Foursquare are also reasons to pursue this route with your client.  I’ve gone through these tips and picked out two to highlight and interpret from a campaign standpoint.
Foursquare allows users to share their location on Twitter and Facebook.  If you are a public relations professional monitoring your client’s Twitter account using TweetDeck or HootSuite, you can see if someone shares their “check in,” on Twitter.  This is a perfect opportunity to engage this user.  To check into a location, the user doesn’t need to follow that location on Twitter.  Catching these “check ins” first hand can create a more personal experience for that user which may lead to him following you on Twitter.  
Another tip mentioned in the Duct Tape Marketing article is the use of automated CRM data.  This means clients can track how often a customers comes into the store.  Providing incentives for every tenth check in could provide you with a loyal customer.  It’s like have a digital loyalty card on your phone.  Not only will he be more likely to share his visits through social media channels, but he will also be more likely to write a tip about you location.  Incentives like this are great opportunities to pitch to bloggers providing tips about places to go in an area.  
Personally, I can’t wait to become the mayor of a Starbucks.  I’m absolutely going to be needing some free coffee!

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