Tag Archives: Foursquare

What Portishead can teach us about Foursquare

Back in 1995, cult English ‘trip hop’ act Portishead released the single ‘Glory Box’, a song in which lead singer Beth Gibbons continually begged the question:

“Give me a reason, to love you.”

This is a beautiful song on a seminal album, especially to someone of my generation.  But what does this melody have to do with social media, and more pertinently, check-in apps such as Foursquare?

Well, just like Beth Gibbons, social media users also need ‘a reason’ to check-in; yet so few businesses and brands are giving anyone that elusive reason.

Since I’ve been using Foursquare, I’ve amassed a whopping 929 check-ins, held down plenty of mayorships (currently 10) and earned 15 ‘badges’:

Yet despite all of this fervent checking-in, I’ve received no tangible ‘value’ whatsoever.


I read with interest today that Foursquare has just signed a deal with American Express that will offer users discounts when they check into places and use their Amex card – BINGO!!!  Here we have actual motivation to check-in!!

Since the accounts will be synched with the users’ Amex accounts, marketers will also be able to see how many people are checking-in and where, what they are purchasing and how much they are spending, providing some tangible ROI and insightful analytics.

Hopefully this is just the start.  Mobile is THE future, yet remains very much entrenched in the present, when there is so much that could be achieved:

  • Greater in-store interaction through the use of QR codes to further research products?
  • Check-in to receive exclusive vouchers?
  • Review a product / store on Foursquare to receive an exclusive product?
  • Affiliate deals for local communities, e.g. ‘since you’ve checked in at Bob’s Boutique, you can get a £1 coffee at Sheila’s Slurps next door’?

I’m truly excited about the mobile space, especially the potential it has to make shopping a more social experience.  But just as Portishead sang all those years ago, for mobile check-ins to be a marketing success, applications have to offer consumers ‘a reason’ – and good ones at that.

Here’s Portishead’s classic ‘Glory Box’ – enjoy!



@marksandspencer: intelligent social media marketing

I’m often accused of packing my posts full of flowery verbiage and using alliteration with alarming alacrity; however this one is brief and succinct.

Today I simply wanted to highlight a fantastic piece of social media marketing from Marks and Spencer.  This morning, the retail giant tweeted the following:

Why is this so spot-on?

•    It communicates M&S’ corporate social responsibility (CSR) and charity commitments through a social channel
•    It offers consumers the chance to be involved with, and contribute to, the brand’s activity
•    It utilises technology (Foursquare) to encourage check-ins
•    It utilises a hashtag – #MS4sq – to drive PR / digital buzz
•    It references the charity’s Twitter handle, thus engaging their social team
•    It drives footfall amongst consumers with a worthy mechanic

Whether this drives an extra billion pounds of sales of not, the fact remains that behind social execution lies rational, intelligent digital marketing strategy.

And this is what turns branded social media activity into effective social media marketing.

Foursquare Foresight: Not Enough Of It?

The days when the global Twitter stream was devoid of derogatory remarks about Foursquare is now a thing of the past.  Even heavyweight Twitter users, many of whom naturally extol the virtues of all Social Media channels, seem to jump on the anti-Foursquare bandwagon with alarming alacrity.


Well, as with many emerging technologies, it will take time to establish itself in the mainstream.  Back in February 2004, an innovative new Social Media platform with big ambitions launched, but at the time many people thought it wouldn’t work.  Six years and half a billion members later and who can imagine a world without Facebook?

Similarly, my boss has written a thoughtful blog post this week highlighting the people who queried whether computers would catch on.  Whether emails would catch on.  Whether websites would catch on.  Did they?  I’ll leave you to insert you own suitably pithy riposte here.

Social Media platforms, like any digital marketing channel, take time to grow, evolve and prove their worth.  Back in 2004, the proposal of creating a ‘page’ where your customers could ‘like’ your brand would have seemed a concept as idea as Tiger Woods’ spectacular fall from grace. But today?  Search for any blue-chip FMCG brand on Facebook and the chances are that you’ll find a polished page with heavy investment.

So how does Foursquare figure in all this?  Well, quite simply, today’s Foursquare is 2004’s Facebook.  An exciting new idea utilising the latest technology – in this case geo-mapping and location-based services (LBS) – Foursquare is nevertheless in its infancy, which for many marketers, means instant dismissal.  Despite our moniker as ‘revolutionary marketers who champion new and emerging technologies’, many of us are anything but.

So it seems, that for the moment, Foursquare will continue to receive its fair share of undue criticism.  It’s up to us, as digital marketers, to use some foresight and see how best we can exploit this new platform for our objectives – we could be looking at the new Facebook after all…