Part 3 of my series on FourSquare was very long in coming, but I hope you will find it to be worth the wait. I recently had the opportunity to interview Matt Weygandt, co-owner of the Barriques Market in Madison. I had inquired to my Twitter followers, who in Madison was using FourSquare for business? Barriques was repeatedly the answer I received to my question. Barriques offers check-in specials and mayor specials for FourSquare users.
I was already going to be on the road with Wendy Soucie and Ellie Humphrey of the Social Media Club and Social Media Breakfast groups I belong to in Madison for our #LincolnDriveBy Social Media road trip, so I asked Matt if you would be willing to be a stop on our trip and also let me double up and do a quick video interview regarding his use of FourSquare. Matt was a very gracious host, and an excellent interview subject with lots of great insights. See the videos below or view them on my YouTube channel. I welcome your comments.
I recently volunteered to participate in a discussion panel about starting Social Media efforts from scratch. I thought it would be helpful for me to put my speaking notes into the form of a blog post for easy reference for those in attendance and for my own records.
Educate Yourself: The good news is if you are reading this article (and/or you attended the event I mentioned) you are already doing it right and seeking knowledge from others. The whole spirit of Social Media is to share with no expectation of an immediate return (or any return). Sharing for the sake of sharing is encouraged and very often the norm.
Ask questions in your chosen Social Media channels, you will be surprised with the amount of information people are willing to share and the generosity of many of your peers.
Secure Your Identity: I can’t stress this one enough. Decide how you will present yourself, as a person, as a brand and/or both and secure your Twitter handle, Facebook fan page, LinkedIn company profile and/or personal profile. There are other channels of course, but those are the big three. Hopefully you have already secured your domain name with the same thoughts in mind.
If you are looking to build your network be sure to use a current photo in your profiles so people can easily identify you. Avoid using drawings or logos for your profile picture unless you are representing a brand as the brand and not a person.
Pick a handle/username that represents you well and be consistent in its use whenever possible. You will need 25 fans on a Facebook fan page before you can get your own custom URL.
Don’t cross post from one platform to another as a rule, in other words don’t populate your Twitter feed from Facebook, this is annoying to fans/followers for several reasons. First, this behavior suggests a lack of commitment to communicating. secondly it usually creates a link to an article with the exact same content your fans/followers just read on Twitter. Lastly, it is not that hard with tools like HootSuite and TweetDeck to manage your social media from one dashboard, so do that rather than cross post.
Formulate a Social Media Policy and a Social Media Plan: These things are definitely tied together but also definitely very different. A Social Media Policy will help you decide how your company will use Social Media, what you will and won’t talk about, and how you will respond to your fans/followers. A Social Media Plan will help you align your Social Media efforts with your company beliefs, mission and values as well as set measurable goals that you can track, measure and reset as needed.
Identify who will carry out your Social Media efforts and empower them to engage with your fans/followers.
Allow free access to social networks and set clear expectations as to how employees are expected to conduct themselves in these channels. Be sure to include an “all opinions are my own” clause in your policy so employees both identify themselves as an employee, but also take responsibility for their own actions.
Measure your Social Media efforts using tools such as Google Analytics, Hub Spot’s Grader Tools as well as Facebook Insights. Don’t be afraid to steer the ship in another direction if something is not working. If you are planning correctly and tracking your efforts you should be able to make small adjustments rather then drastic changes.
Follow your competition and see what they are doing better or worse than you. It’s OK to borrow ideas from your peers and make them your own, and you can bet they will be watching you too.
Share, Build Relationships and Then Transact: Start using your newly found Social Media toolbox and jump in head first. By sharing and adding value with quality content in your Social Media feeds and your Blog (if you have one) you will earn the trust of your followers and begin to build a strong network. Only after you have shared, shared and shared again can you ask your network to buy, donate, volunteer. If you try to skip straight to the transaction you will lose your audience and their trust.
Get past the hurdle of immediate gratification and cultivate long-term relationships with strangers who may or may not ever transact with you. This seems to be the toughest concept to grasp when starting out. If you are looking to generate hot leads instantly you may be disappointed. If instead you are looking to build a base of enthusiastic followers who keep you “top-of-mind” in your industry you are in luck.
Share articles of interests on your blog or simply re-tweet something that somebody else wrote. Be sure to “Like” lots of things on Facebook, this elevates the rank of posts and increases visibility for your friends and pages you are following. Remember that “Liking” something is FREE and again in the spirit of Social Media you will do this with no expectation of a return.
Ask (both open-ended and specific) questions to your network and thank those that respond, recognize those you follow with @ mentions within your networks and give congratulations to others on their accomplishments.
When you finally transact, remember how you got there, track your efforts, thank your customers, thank those that referred them to you, share the tools you used that helped you find success, continue to do all of the above and lather, rinse, repeat.
The quick and dirty answer is anyone who owns a business that sells a product or service where customers actually visit their place of business (in other words, location-based businesses).
Specific kinds of businesses that can benefit from using FourSquare include restaurants, retail shops, hotels, bars and really anywhere customers can eat, drink, sleep or shop.
According to FourSquare:
FourSquare aims to encourage people to explore their neighborhoods and then reward people for doing so. We do this by combining our friend-finder and social city guide elements with game mechanics — our users earn points, win Mayorships and unlock badges for trying new places and revisiting old favorites.
The Social Media Breakfast Madison group meets the third Wednesday of each month at Talula restaurant in Madison. With 40-50 active social media professionals visiting this location each month, Talula is an example of the kind of business that’s perfectly positioned to benefit from location-based social media tools. Why not take advantage of the no-cost or low-cost opportunities to reward these very eager social media users for frequenting the venue? FourSquare and Twitter provide easy ways to promote your sales or specials, build loyalty by offering up badges or other rewards, or simply make it easier for satisfied customers to spread the word about your business in an @ mention or direct message on Twitter.
One business that really gets FourSquare, and has used it to its advantage is AJ Bombers in Milwaukee. This business actively engage with customers on FourSquare, Twitter and facebook. AJ Bombers has become not only a popular location in Milwaukee for burger enthusiasts, but a place that techies and the Social Media savvy seek out due to the restaurant’s enthusiastic embrace of FourSquare and Twitter.
According to FourSquare, businesses can and should use some of the following ideas to increase customer engagement:
Mayor Specials: unlocked only by the Mayor of your venue. Who’s the Mayor? It’s your single most loyal customer! (the user who has checked in the most in the last 60 days) (“FourSquare has deemed you the Mayor? Enjoy a free order of french fries!”)
Check-in Specials: unlocked when a user checks in to your venue a certain number of times. (“FourSquare says you’ve been here 10 times? That’s a free drink for you!”)
Frequency-based Specials: are unlocked every X check-ins. (“FourSquare users get 20% off any entree every 5th check-in!”)
Wildcard Specials: always unlocked, but your staff has to verify some extra conditions before awarding the Special. (“Show us your FourSquare Swarm badge and get a free drink!”)
So aside from businesses who want to increase traffic to their venues and gain customer loyalty through the competitive gaming aspect of FourSquare, others who should use FourSquare are those who want to play the “mayor game” and earn “badges”, “rewards” and the bragging rights involved with all of this.
FourSquare users can promote their favorite business simply by checking in, but can and should also offer tips about these venues. In the spirit of social media, this is all done with no “expectation” of a return. But, if used correctly, FourSquare provides a built-in reward system for dedicated users. The reward for businesses is continued patronage by their loyal fans and free marketing courtesy of their best customers.
Hopefully this clears up some of the confusion as to Who Should Use FourSquare. Check back here soon for: 4 Blog Posts About FourSquare: Part 3 – A Case Study of Successful Engagement via FourSquare.
I have had a lot of conversations recently with different people both online and offline about foursquare. Sometimes the conversation is prompted by me taking out my phone (I have the Motorola Droid) to check-in to a venue. I often ask business owners if they are engaging in social media, and I specifically ask about facebook, twitter and foursquare. Other conversations I have had about foursquare are started by others who find it frustrating or think it is a waste of time (and usually go on some sort of rant via facebook or their own blog, etc.).
I happen to agree that foursquare can APPEAR to be a waste of time (and in reality BE a waste of time) if businesses are not aware (and many are not) of what foursquare is, and how it can benefit them.
So to rewind and answer the question posed in the title of this blog post I am copying and pasting a few selections directly from foursquare‘s web site here.
What is foursquare?
Foursquare is a mobile application that makes cities easier to use and more interesting to explore. It is a friend-finder, a social city guide and a game that challenges users to experience new things, and rewards them for doing so. Foursquare lets users “check in” to a place when they’re there, tell friends where they are and track the history of where they’ve been and who they’ve been there with. For more information on how foursquare works, see our searchable FAQ.
When was foursquare founded?
Foursquare co-founders Dennis Crowley and Naveen Selvadurai met in 2007 while working in the same office space (at different companies) in New York City. Working from Dennis’ kitchen table in New York’s East Village, they began building the first version of foursquare in fall 2008, and launched it at South by Southwest Interactive in Austin, Texas in March 2009.
How many users does foursquare have?
As of October 2010, foursquare had over 4 million users worldwide.
How many businesses are offering Specials through foursquare?
Tens of thousands of venues are currently experimenting with Special Offers on foursquare. For information on how businesses can work with foursquare, check out this page.
Where is foursquare’s office located?
We have a team of around 40 employees located in the East Village of New York City.
Who are foursquare’s investors?
We’re funded by Union Square Ventures, O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz and a handful of angel investors.
Now that you know what foursquare is what do you do with it?
Get foursquare on your phone!
First things first – let’s get foursquare on your phone. Your best bet is to download either our iPhone, Android, Blackberry, or Palm app. If you have another phone with a web browser, you’re best off using mobile website.
If you have a phone that doesn’t have a web browser, you can use our SMS shortcode to check-in by sending messages to 50500 (like this: @ Ace Bar ! enjoying happy hour). Sorry, but this works in the US only for now.
Check-in to places
People use foursquare to “check-in”, which is a way of telling us your whereabouts. When you check-in someplace, we’ll tell your friends where they can find you and recommend places to go & things to do nearby. People check-in at all kind of places – cafes, bars, restaurants, parks, homes, offices.
You’ll find that as your friends use foursquare to check-in, you’ll start learning more about the places they frequent. Not only is it a great way to meet up with nearby friends, but you’ll also start to learn about their favorite spots and the new places they discover.
Share your experiences with friends
Think of foursquare as an “urban mix tape.” We’ll help you make lists of your favorite things to do and let you share them with friends. Think beyond your standard review – we’re looking less for “The food here is top notch” and more for “Go to Dumont Burger and try the most amazing Mac and Cheese ever.” Foursquare will keep track of the things you’ve done, help you create To-Do lists and even suggest new experiences to seek out.
As you check-in around the city, you’ll start finding tips that other users have left behind. After checking-in at a restaurant, it’s not uncommon to unlock a tip suggesting the best thing on the menu. Checking-in at a bar will often offer advice on what your next stop should be. Every tip you create is discoverable by other users just by checking-in.
Earn points and unlock badges!
Every foursquare checkin earns you points. Find a new place in your neighborhood? +5 points. Making multiple stops in a night? +2 points. Dragging friends along with you? +1.
And as you start checking-in to more interesting places with different people, you’ll start unlocking badges. There are badges for discovering new places and for traveling to far away places. Spending too much time singing karaoke or been hitting the gym consistently? Yes, there are badges for those too 🙂
Become the mayor! Unlock some freebies!
We all have our local hangouts and foursquare keeps tabs on who’s the most loyal of all the regulars. If you’ve been to a place more than anyone else, you’ll become “the mayor”… until someone else comes along and steals your title.
It may sound a little silly until you see the list of places that are offering freebies to our mayors – free coffees, free ice-cream, free hotel stays – it pays to be a foursquare loyalist and check-in whenever you go!
So in a nutshell foursquare is a GPS-based tool you can use with your phone to “check-in” to a location, add a location and also see where your friends are checked-in. You can provide tips/reviews and read tips/reviews left by others about places they have checked-in. You can earn badges and mayorships as you accumulate check-ins.
If you are a business owner you can use foursquare to promote the mere existence of of your business, encourage check-ins through the use of specials and badges (there is a significant cost associated with creating a badge) and of course connecting with and engaging your social media savvy customers in this channel as well as twitter and facebook (where status updates can also be shared).
I find it a bit amusing that that my two sources are a newspaper web site (which makes mention of declining readership) and a Social Media blog (which states the importance of traditional media).
I also find it amusing that many of those who will make the statement that “traditional media is dead” are also the first to tweet or blog and brag about being featured in a magazine piece, newspaper article or television show/segment. I am a big fan of all things new and techy, and love social media, but I don’t think we should be dancing on the grave of traditional media just yet (so to speak).
I tend to think of Social Media as Undead. Being a big movie buff and a fan of zombie films I can’t help but compare traditional media to the zombie hordes that will surely be on my back porch when the zombie apocalypse arrives (my backyard is next to a cemetery). While traditional media appears to be dead, it is actually still quite animated and if you move too slow it will eat your brains.
Like many of you I have asked myself the question: “Who has time to blog?”. I was fortunate enough to attend the most recent Social Media Breakfast: Madison event at the Talula restaurant in Madison, WI. One of our presenters, Tom Marks of TMA + Peritus made several points which have inspired me to start actually writing my blog rather than letting my twitter feed populate WordPress.
During Tom’s presentation he addressed that very sentiment (being too busy to blog), and his response was this: If you follow the “Rule of Three”, which according to Tom is to aim for writing a blog post made up of at least three paragraphs of at least three sentences each, you are well on your way to writing more original content than most blogs contain. Considering many blogs today are really just content copied and pasted from other web sites, articles and blogs I have to agree with Tom. Tom also stated that writing an effective blog post could be accomplished “in the time it takes to wait for a haircut”, and claims his last blog post was done in exactly that fashion.
With this in mind I did a few Google searches and found three (I sense a trend here) articles of interest related (somewhat) to this post.
It did take me a little longer than I might wait to get a haircut to write this, and I also borrowed much of my content, but I did use the articles I am linking to (and Tom’s advice) as guidelines, and I expect I will get faster and more original in my blog posts in the future.