Archive for the ‘Location-Based Apps’ Category

Initial Thoughts on Facebook Places

August 20, 2010

We all know that I’m a Foursquare fan girl.  I’m not going to even pretend that I’m not.  So I was particularly interested in what Facebook Places was going to bring to the table.  And well, I’m kind of underwhelmed.

The biggest issue that is making the rounds is the fact that your friends can check you in.  The social media types all know how this is going to go.  People are going to think that they’re funny and check us into random places.  In fact, I’m already thinking of all the places I can check Mike the Boyfriend into. (I won’t but it doesn’t mean I won’t encourage others to do it.)  And then there are the privacy phobes that simply don’t want people to know where they are.  We have already seen how much noise they can make with previous privacy issues.  I don’t think there is any possibility that this feature will last.  And that is simply because we are all turning it off.

The other feature that I think will go away is the one that allows people to see who is at a location.  Yes, that is a GREAT feature on Foursquare.  I constantly use it to see who I should be meeting up with at a happy hours and other events.  I can’t scream how much I love this feature on Foursquare enough.  It can’t be translated onto Facebook.  Once again, I’m looking at you privacy phobes.  You don’t want people to know where you are unless you have a prior relationship, and even then, you don’t like it.  Therefore, you all will turn this feature off as well.

Then there is what this will do to the stream.  I know a lot of people that unfollow anyone that tweets every single check-in.  It’s annoying.  And there are a lot of tweets in most streams.  There aren’t nearly as many Facebook posts out there.  I think even broadcasting a few check-ins will get old fast.

Finally, there is no incentive.  To be honest, the only reason why I check-in to Foursquare is because I think I might get something out of it (badge, mayorship, coupon, etc.).  Without that, I don’t tend to check-in.  That means I have absolutely no reason to check-in via places.  And I like location-based applications.  Chew on that for a second.

Yes, Facebook seems to have a head start in that it has 500 million users, but these users are overall very different from those that use location-based applications.  The average Facebook user doesn’t like to share too much.  They like to keep things close to the chest.  And those that aren’t like that tend to be more friendly with Twitter than Facebook.  So Facebook has A LOT to overcome with their average user and they have to woo back these other users as well.  Especially since I’m seeing a lot of tweets on how to turn off just about every feature of Places.

Do I think you should not play with Facebook Places?  Hell, no.  Play, jump and giggle with it.  It’s a tool, and it could be helpful.  Just be aware, this is its first incarnation and it’s going to change.  Be okay with that and let’s see what this baby can do.

Should My CVB Sign Up for a Foursquare Account?

May 27, 2010

Hey, let’s make this the shortest blog post ever: YES!

Wait, you want more than that?  Oh, alright.

In addition to claiming your location by identifying yourself as the manager, your CVB should also create an account.  This is not to say you should have your biggest partier take over the account and actively tweet out their random check-ins using the CVB Twitter account.  That would be bad and not just because I would hate to see what that person would check into and tweet out at 3 am on a Saturday morning.

AFTER you have had some experience using the service via a personal account, you should create the CVB account.  The next thing you should do?  Make sure all of your members are listed on it.  If they are not, list them.  Not only will that get you rad mega points that will put you ahead of everyone on the leaderboard, but it will also be good for those member locations to be listed everywhere you can list them.

Then, you need to spend some time talking to your members about the service.  Educate them about it and let them know that you are experimenting with it to see how it will benefit both you as a CVB and them.  Show them how they can claim their location and the business tools that they can use to enhance their experience.  From there, you need to discuss with them what makes their business unique, although you probably should already know this.

Your next step?  Start leaving tips like a two dollar hooker.  Make sure you have a tip on every member location.  What should these tips be?  Well, definitely not something like, “You should eat here.  It’s good.”  It should be something like, “Don’t even think about it.  Just order the poblano soup.  You can thank us later,” or “Did you know that they have half-priced pizza on Tuesdays?  Our favorite is the veggie.”  In other words, use that little tid bit that you discussed with your member locations that make them unique and will provide some kind of “insider information” to a potential visitor.

Wow, that was a lot of work.  Oh, but crap, there’s more.  The infamous check-ins.  Once again, DO NOT randomly check-in to places and tweet them out.  Have a cohesive plan for the check-ins.  For example, check-in to the major events you have and tweet them out to explain what is going on.  That is a very good use of Foursquare.  Unlike an individual who can feel free to check-in wherever, every check-in needs to mean something for your CVB.  Random check-ins add no value and are therefore, not worth your time.

This is just the basics.  There are a lot more things you can do via Foursquare, but if you do everything above, you will be in very good shape and anything else will be cake.  Now who is actually doing this?

Unlock Your City by Unlocking Foursquare Badges

May 20, 2010

This past weekend, as many of you know, #Geekcation happened and it was a little crazy.  It was one of the more demanding vacations I’ve ever taken and it was one of the only vacations I know of that actually had a social media strategy.  The biggest part of the #Geekcation strategy?  By far, unlocking as many Foursquare badges as humanly possible.  I was pretty proud of having unlocked seven, but I left with the feeling that I could have done more.

This brings me to an idea for all of you CVBs reading this.  Have you considered doing a visitors guide with itineraries totally based on unlocking Foursquare badges?  It could  include how to simply unlock single badges such as the Karaoke badge to how to maximize your time to unlock the most badges possible in one day.  With the colorfulness and downright adorableness of the badges, this has the possibility to be an extremely good looking visitors guide in the hands of the right graphic artist.  This would also screams a need for an in real life event, although I am still juggling around how that might go.  It has to be fair to those of us that already have many of these badges.

I know many of you are trying to get Foursquare to do badges for you and I also know many of you probably do not have the budget for such an undertaking.  This could be your alternative and a rather cheap alternative.  In addition, it could teach you a lot about your city.  Can you tell me off the top of your head where three photo booths are in your area?  Well, after my little experiment, I can tell you where three are in Chicago.  In fact, I feel like I can tell you a lot about Chicago that I would not have known otherwise after #Geekcation.  I experienced more about that city than I have any other and I most definitely have Foursquare to thank for that.

It goes without saying that this would be part of an overall Foursquare plan that should include a CVB leaving tips at all of their member locations, checking in only when it is an interesting check in (i.e. a big event) and educating all of your members about the benefits of using Foursquare.

So has anyone done a Foursquare badge visitors guide?  Is there anyone out there working on one?

The Benefits of Using Foursquare for Conferences

March 23, 2010

Location-based apps are all the rage right now and for good reason.  According to the current most popular app Foursquare, they are averaging just around 400,000 check-ins a day.  That’s 2,800,000 chances a week that someone will be checking into YOUR location.  That is all the more reason to figure out if this is something your organization can use to benefit your conference.

What is Foursquare?

Foursquare is a location-based app that operates by the user checking into the locations that they visit throughout the day.  This can be anything from the local Starbucks, the office or the latest nightclub.  The person that has checked in the most in the last two months automatically becomes the mayor of the location.  Users can also earn badges and even specials based upon their check-in behavior.  My favorite part about Foursquare though is the information that is on the location pages.  The mayor is listed as well as those that have checked into the location publicly.  Also tips can be left on the pages that can range from insider information to reviews.  At first blush, this is not something that could easily be translated into a conference setting, but it is in fact an amazing tool that can make your conference that much better.

Benefits for Sponsors

In this economy, we are all facing the problem of having to create more value in sponsorships.  A lot of us are bringing that value with the social media strategy.  Foursquare can be a great tool in that strategy.

By setting up locations on Foursquare for all of your sponsors, conference attendees can check-in to your sponsors.  This check-in can be potentially be broadcasted over three platforms (Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare), meaning that three sets of contacts are being exposed to your sponsors.  What is better yet is that this coming organically from the conference attendees themselves.  That is potentially fantastic exposure.

Another benefit of setting up locations for your sponsors is the tips section.  A curious attendee that sees a colleague has checked in to one of your sponsors can click on that sponsors location page and see what value that other attendees are getting from that vendor.  Examples of that can be a great product or a fantastic salesperson.  Knowing this ahead of time, the conference attendee goes into meeting with this sponsor more knowledgeable and both can have a much more valuable meeting.

These face-to-face meetings are obviously the most valuable part of the conference for your members.  What is great is that Foursquare can reinforce these.  After the conference is done, your sponsors can go to their page to check out those that checked into what they had to offer.  This will also include information on both attendees’ Twitter and Facebook accounts.  That means that attendees can be directed to sponsors’ Twitter and Facebook accounts by an industrious sponsor.  The conversation from the conference can keep going quickly and easily even if business cards were not exchanged.  In other words, LOADS of benefits for your sponsors.

Benefits for Attendees

In the end, you put on this conference for the attendees.  So anything you do for the conference has to create value for your attendees.  The number one value is just exposing them to this tool.  Location-based apps are going to touch every industry from tourism to small business.  By encouraging them to use Foursquare throughout a conference, it will give attendees an idea of what can be done with it and why they should be using it.  Giving them that knowledge and preparing them for what is coming is pretty priceless.

Foursquare will also encourage networking throughout the conference.  By broadcasting their locations across the three platforms, colleagues can meet up and reinforce relationships, including those relationships that up until the conference had been online only.  Relationships are the backbone of every association and facilitating those relationships can only make your organization and conference stronger.

Since knowledge is power, why not give your attendees more power by making them more knowledgeable?  Tips left on pages set up for the sessions can make your attendees more knowledgeable about why other attendees think a certain speaker is more worthy of their time over another.  Will this kind of power make everyone involved in your conference have to live up to a higher standard?  Yes, but that is not a bad thing.

Benefits for the Association

What is going to be the number one reason to use this?  Well, because you will look cool of course.  In case that is not enough to convince the head of your association, in addition to the benefits listed above there is also the possibility of instant feedback.  Whereas with Twitter you will have to sift through tweets, on Foursquare the comments will be categorized by session, sponsor, etc. and will also include how many people checked into each.  This is categorized real-time information that can be used to improve the conference on the spot.  Talk about power.

Conclusion

The location-based craze is not a fad and will not be going away anytime soon.  Not using it will only handicap your conference and make you less capable of responding to the needs of those that make your conference possible.  Want some strategies for using Foursquare in an organic way through your conference?  Stay tuned for my next post.  And be sure to let me know what you think of my first trip into this blog world in the comments!