I recently found out that Andy Mott is the Mayor of MarketingExperiments. Which got me thinking…who rules the roost at other austere workplaces according to Foursquare?
Well, it turns out that Rob R. is the so-called Mayor of the White House. Rob who? I don’t know, but clearly not Barack O. So, if the Leader of the Free World can’t even be in charge of his own house, how valuable of a technology is this really?
I don’t care where you are
After I found out about his Mayordom, I also learned that Andy is the Mayor of a local Dunkin’ Donuts and Chili’s. But what do I really learn from this other than that Andy could be making healthier choices in life than scarfing down Boston Kreme donuts and Baby Back Ribs?
After all, when he checks in somewhere, all I really see is “I’m at BLANK.” So how social is FourSquare really?
The true power of social media is not that it allows people to be a shill to their friends (Andy ate a donut, and then two of his friends ate a donut, and then four of their friends ate a donut…). Social media, broken down to is essence, is essentially Transparent Marketing microcast to a highly niche audience – people who care what you have to say.
And the quickest way to turn those people off to caring what their friends and associates have to say is to shill.
Even in a tweet, I learn something about what someone thought of something – the bare minimum essential for communication to actually take place. They liked it. They didn’t like it. They ate too much. Something. Not just, “I’m at BLANK.”
Beyond that, once the novelty of campaigning against Mayor McCheese wears off, what value is there going to be to the FourSquarers? Essentially, all I’m learning is that someone can be enticed by the potential for a free cup of coffee and a virtual Girl Scout badge to let his friends track him on an odyssey through the strip malls of America.
Get your Groupon
Now, don’t get me wrong, I agree that the convergence of Local + Mobile + Social Media = The Next Google. And since the current Google hasn’t mastered this equation (Buzz is about as likely to generate any buzz as non-alcoholic beer), the field is wide open to upstarts. To me, the let’s-use-incentivized-social-media-to-get-people-into-B&M-stores horse to bet on is Groupon. For one, there is clear appeal to users. Huuuuuuge discounts (the prices are insane). And two, people ACTUALLY SAY SOMETHING about the product or service. Sure, there’s some discussion on Foursquare…
But on Groupon, people are actually putting their money where their mouth is, and making a buying decision, so the information for those interested in making a local purchase (which is, after all, what both Foursquare and Groupon are really about), is much more valuable – a true marketplace of ideas…
Tips for location-based social media marketing So if you have a local company or a national brand with bricks and mortar locations, what should you do? Until we release more detailed research into social media marketing, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Transparency – Something both these services get right is that they are clearly, openly, and honestly promoting local businesses. That’s a huge plus considering all the unethical, black hat social media “powerful promoters” currently flooding the digital airwaves with what is essentially spam.
But Groupon gets my vote for that extra layer of transparency. As you can see from the comment above, people debate if these deals are really worth it, and that provides much more value to a local consumer than just knowing your buddy likes to grab a beer at the local pub.
While your company may not be on Foursquare or Groupon yet, keep the value of transparency in mind on Twitter, Facebook, and blogs as well. If you are promoting a product, service, or non-profit, be clear in your intentions. And encourage your followers and customers to be clear as well, if you incent social media action with a contest, discount, or freebie.
- Actual content – Social media is, after all, a form of content marketing. And as the name suggests, content marketing requires actual content.
Groupon does a better job than Foursquare of actually producing content that a local customer would be interested in. Even if I don’t purchase a discount through a Groupon, it’s interesting to get people’s feedback on that product or service.
But content can help you in another way as well. Both of these services, especially Groupon, rely on incentives to grab attention and drive traffic. And that’s a great way to begin your local social media promotions…especially in a down economy. But if that incentive is the only value you offer potential customers, you’re going to kill your margins.
Content marketing, through social media or any other media, does an excellent job of building an audience for your offering while strengthening your brand and showing the real value you provide. But to get to that step, you must first provide real, valuable, genuine, authentic content that is valuable to your audience in its own right. In this arena, both Groupon and Foursquare fall short.
- Actual decisions – If you’re a local business or a national brand with B&M locations, here’s the real value of Groupon over Foursquare. Groupon drives actual purchase decisions. Users get a discount, they debate the merit of your product or service, but you’re likely getting significant net new traffic to focus on what you have to offer.
The difference is akin to the gap between surveys and real-world testing. With a survey, you’re asking people what they might like to buy. With Foursquare, the conversation (if you can call it that) essentially revolves around places people have been and may go.
Groupon, like real-world resting, is focused on actual conversions. The buying process itself. As such, it provides content and value that is aligned with your goals, which is likely not traffic and badges but rather – real purchases.
Unless some major changes are made, in two years FourSquare will largely be remembered as a lame game you play at recess when you can’t find a football.
Oh, and Andy, if you really are the Mayor of MarketingExperiments, when are you going to fix the pothole in front of my office?
Join us on Wednesday when Andy hopefully answers that question while telling you the value he’s discovered in Foursquare from working with some of our enterprise-level Research Partners…