For those hotels still wanting to get marketing on Foursquare, or those unsure if it’s worth it should quickly watch this short video. Taken at SMX West recently, Bhawna Sharma talks with Foursquare’s own Tristan Walker about the specific benefits. As you know, we do a lot of hotel marketing and Foursquare is a gold mine for regular business use, driving into their API for advance use or coming up with unique link bait that works from their platform. At the very least, get your hotel in their system and build that venue page because you’ll at least get a nice link and the attention of current users.
Badgeville jumped onto the scene when they won “Audience Choice” at TechCrunch last fall. Within two quarters they’re captured 50 clients for their “white label” social rewards, loyalty and analytics platform. As the name suggests, the Badgeville concept is similar to Farmville. The big difference is badgeville is an entertaining online version of a frequent-flyer program and Farmville is an entertaining online version of crack. And unlike Foursquare, you don’t have to physically go to Starbucks four times a day (more crack anyone?); you just have to visit your websites you frequent regularly anyway. And for anyone like me whose crack comes in the form of online shopping, you might as well be hooked on Badgeville too. So, enough about crack, here’s my rundown of Badgeville:
For the Users
Badgeville brings a new level of entertainment and engagement for website visitors and ecommerce customers. Through gamification, Badgeville combines elements of social games like Farmville with a rewards and loyalty program. Instead of tending to a digital flock of sheep, your regular actions within websites earn your points, awards or rewards. This can be for buying products, commenting, watching videos, filling out surveys and much more. With Facebook and Twitter integration, liking, sharing or Tweeting can equal rewards. This can earn you virtual currency, discounts, premium content to just bragging rights through trophies and badges. The leaderboard widget showcases the biggest fans and lists your friends on the site. The best part of all this is you don’t have to run around in a video game or real life, you just have to do what you normally do when using a website. You now just get rewarded for it, along with an incentive for doing more while you’re there. Participating is nice and easy too: visitors just have to login with Facebook connect or create a regular account through the website.
For the Website
Badgeville is perfect for any ecommerce, news or social website, or any fuelled by user-generated content. Its white label functionality means that its widgets and API integrate to your site’s design and doesn’t eat up any of your precious on-page real estate and
branding. You can pick through a range rewards and goals for your visitors and how, where or when they can achieve them. Badgeville provides real-time analytics. While this is a regular feature of many applications, they bring their own unique advantages. If you’re find pages or functions on your site lacking the traffic they need, you can incentivize them through Badgeville. By adding rewards of your choice to the needed areas, with a bonus for sharing, you’re looking at a quick and easy on-page SEO/SMO option. For an online shop releasing new additions, a few rewards or discounts will spread your message through participants’ networks. The leaderboard widget showcases your top fans, letting them serve as brand ambassadors to your other visitors. It also lists your visitor’s friends, giving them a chance to compete over and share your brand.
For both the Badgeville participant and hosting website, everything is in real-time. If you’re using Badgeville, you get live activity streams, leaderboards and friend graphs. If you’re the host, you get more than just analytics, but the ability to influence your analytics in real-time and set marketing goals, all through the Badgeville platform. Online retailer BlueFly is a big name on board, with 50 under their belt as of March 30th. SlideShare also plans to integrate Badgeville, which is great for online marketeers like me who find themselves there more often than not. For more, head over to Badgeville.
The first Foursquare check-in from space was completed by astronaut Douglas Wheelock just the other day. In a world of PR and viral marketing it has become quite a bit harder to get heard, so when you can blast a message from space you know the world will tune in. While Foursquare battles the location based check-in war, it seems they just got a massive PR spike thanks to this interesting event. Gizmodo broke the news for most and it has struck up enough interest to really make me step back and analyze this whole event from a marketing perspective.
I really think this will help out Foursquare more than anything, but NASA surely doesn’t mind the extra buzz since they’ve been trying to capture the attention of the nation. I imagine it will be a while before we see another check in from space, but I am quite excited for the first Moon check-in, and then eventually other planets like Mars!
We all knew it was coming! Facebook Places is taking aim at Foursquare (and the other guys) with its new feature that is not at all original, but they have the user base so might as well. Of all the location based applications, this one will most likely give the Foursquare crew a run for its money depending on what else they do with it. One extra, cooler, better, faster, hard stronger ( sorry Daft Punk ) feature should be enough to leverage a lot of usage from the Facebook mob. For now I find myself not overly excited about this feature yet, and since I keep my Facebook profile on lock down, I don’t think I’ll use it much anywho. I do see the need for crucial integration of this feature into Facebook Pages though, and hopefully this helps brands and companies target their customers even more. Regardless, here’s a promo video that hypes it up a little more despite how lame it was done…all that money and this is the kind of production you put forth? LOLZ.
I had thought with the advent of Twitter that my time was now doomed. Not only did I have to blog, handle clients, make videos and write reports. But, now I have to manage my location based apps to make sure I have a decent following. There’s no doubt that Foursquare, Facebook, Gowalla and Yelp are seeing huge growth from location based check-in apps. Businesses of any size should have already started marketing any of these platforms because local search domination will be mainly achieved through these means…well, that’s what I think anyway. I would not want to miss out on the shift that is taking place right now, so check out Check.in to handle multiple check in logins on location based apps.
So I’m sure you’ve all ready by now the success Starbucks has recently had with Foursquare…well let’s just say social media in general. While I believe the numbers don’t really match up, and they’re most likely over playing Foursquare’s role, but still there is a wake-you-up lesson to be learned here. The discounts they offered to the Mayor’s has affected me personally…why? Well I’ve been getting crazy discounts from not only my local Starbucks, but many other restaurants in the area. I’m seeing my non marketing friends embracing Foursquare just for the deals, so it’s safe to say you can no longer avoid Foursquare.
Foursquare is going to be the biggest force in the top 10 for businesses within the next year, so get ready for new marketing opportunities. Businesses are already scrambling to work with the Foursquare API, and I’m already seeing local business search domination in play. I wanted to showcase some ways you’ll be able to socially do business, and this is only with Foursquare. Imagine the reach you’ll get by dominating Gowalla as well, but that’s another post coming up within the next week. Foursquare is going to need to attract a lot of developers fast because Facebook is coming out with a location based check-in service, naturally, so time will tell who will dominate.
You can by all means add me as a friend on Foursquare as I`m quite active. I really love promoting my favorite local spots, and if user does it a bit it will all work out for the good. I don`t have any evil marketing intentions for Foursquare, so you`ll just see what I get up to on a daily basis. For the most part, prepare to be bored!
Foursquare has quickly been eating up the local search market, I`m sure you`ve all noticed. There`s no harm in getting your business active, think about this. How easily can you rank your boutique hotel venue listing, or local restaurant or real estate listings on Foursquare?
Foursquare gives you the ability to further brand yourself by linking up with Twitter and Facebook. While you don`t get a link to your homepage (yet), you do get followed links to your Facebook and Twitter page. That`s a plus in my books because that makes those profiles only stronger.
Some of the on-page optimization baffles me with foursquare, especially the URL and title formatting. I`m still not seeing Foursquare showing up very high in Google yet for local venues, perhaps this is why. They certainly have the link authority to rank for just about anything these days. I imagine this will eventually be changed to the slightly more SEO friendly setup, but for now this is what you get;
The Opus Hotel here in Vancouver is the coolest place I`ve had the pleasure of staying, and I never would have gone until I saw them socially online. The Opus Hotel does a damn fine job of not only SEO locally, but how they`ve branded themselves on Twitter, Facebook and of course Foursquare. This is a fine example of how you should be tackling online marketing from all angles. Their business listing on Foursquare is quite active and will most likely never be deindexed, and potentially will rank for some very competitive keywords in the near future.
The promotion opportunities here are quite endless. The more check-ins your venue has, the more people will see your business. I`d highly recommend targeting active users within your city to get them involved with your Foursquare account. That`s the beauty of social networking!
Coupon marketing is currently offered for free through your Foursquare venue page. This obviously encourages users to come to your location, and hopefully the rise in business follows. I can tell you this, I routinely try and become mayor at my favorite restaurants just for the coupons and discounts. A local Vancouver restaurant chain called Earls has recently stepped up their Foursquare promotion as well as just Facebook and Twitter. You`d be amazed at what just these three sites can do for your local business. You can even see that I`m mayor of the Kingsway Earls near my condo….I even mustered up the strength to write a tip.
My favorite aspect of the features for businesses right now are the tools to create specials for users. These usually result in free drinks for birthdays, if the venue mayor checks in and really a whole bunch of ideas just waiting to be tried out. I’ve just recently learned that you can get Foursquare venue stickers for businesses to let customers know you’re a Foursquare friendly establishment. If you’re reading this now and own a local business, well then I hope you’re already ordering these as soon as you’re done RT’ing and stumbling this post.
Now I’m sure you’re sweating a little from the amount of new work I just created in your life, but don’t worry. Eventually the marketing will go viral within your local market, and you can as of right now track all sorts of amazing analytics for free. In fact, the developer team has stated they’re just going to make the best analytic software possible for free. I imagine at one point you’ll see some sort advanced, fee based business opportunities but that’s expected.
Here’s currently a chart they provide on their website describing the business analytic features;
Foursquare provides API access and it has already spawned some really interesting apps for both the user and businesses. So you can either code up something 3rd party to interact directly with your business and the Foursquare interface, or take advantage of other available apps. Within a year from now, there will be so many apps it will overload any businesses brand, no matter how large you are.
This also brings up another interesting question from the angle of a marketer. Which of my current social networks that I’m on are going to integrate with Foursquare? How many new niche business directories are we going to see implement Foursquare data? Who knows at this point, but this is something you’re going to want to keep in the back of your mind
Interesting Foursquare Apps:
Foursquare has recently redesigned their application directory so it’s easy to find all sorts of readily available tools to use. I’ve been digging around all evening, taking a look at what I thought would make for a great example of what’s possible with Foursquare applications. My favorite thing is dining out, I’m a little bit of a food nut, so let’s take a look at Snacksquare.
Local restaurants who take advantage of local coupon and discount sites like this will surely make a name for themselves. Snacksquare lets you find all the latest and greatest food and snack deals that are closest to you, brilliant! This app not only provides a method of free marketing for businesses, it provides a useful money saving device right at the tip of the consumers fingers.
4squareoffers.com does pretty much exactly what it sounds like. It works in a similar fashion to Snacksquare except you can find deals on any type of product, not just food. It works with a simple to use Google Maps feature and you’ll have no problem finding local deals. Businesses will automatically get their data pulled as long as you’re marketing properly on Foursquare.
Love A Local Business:
The fine folks at Intuit coded up this neat little Foursquare and Facebook powered application for business all over the world. Basically it lets users vote and spread social love which in return should act exactly as an online, real time word of mouth marketing platform. I tried using the site a little more but sadly on the latest Firefox and Windows it would always hang my browser. Let me know if anyone else experiences this problem on a different platform as I don’t put much faith into Microsoft’s programming.
Wrapping Things Up:
I could go on and on about the 500+ other apps already out there right now, but I’ll spare you and I any more reading or writing here. The Foursquare train isn’t slowing down any time soon and has already dipped into Alexa’s top 1000 websites. I hope all of you learned something from this and take it and apply it to your business. If you’re looking for help in your local search marketing you can of course get in touch with me. We can kick start you local search marketing efforts with a bang.