Foursquare – location based social networks

We’re back into the swing of things for 2010, and I’d like to write about a couple of things I’ve seen in the last 12 months in the digital world. I don’t like to do predictions because the web moves so fast and technology is changing at such a fast pace. But I’d like to tell you about services I am using and what I want to use more of. I’m going to start with Foursquare in 2010.

The reason that I am writing this post is because I went to a presentation on the future of digital in 2008 and one of the speakers was Michael Kordahi, Microsoft Evangelist for Microsoft Surface which I have previously blogged about. One thing that stood out was how he said he had to bring his clients along with him for the journey, as he’s often so far ahead and in a different space. He does that with his blog and that’s what I am trying to do too!

Foursquare

An app that I’ve been using quite a lot in the last few months is Foursquare. I’ve actually been wanting to write about this for a while but I wanted to evaluate the service for a few months first.

Foursquare

Foursquare

I had signed up about 6 months before it was available in Australia and there were only a few Aussies on the network. I must admit that I sign up to a lot of services that I hear about on tech blogs. I’m one of those people that like to experiment.  I noticed a lot of them were tweeting about it on one day and some had added me – that’s when I realised it was available in Aus. There were a flurry of blog posts from local tech / internet peers in the few days after it was released in Australia.

I could see that there was a lot of potential. Foursquare is a location based social networks where you could update your location using your mobile.  I was already using my mobile a lot to update my status using facebook and twitter. I also noticed that a lot of my friends were updating with location based tweets/fb updates saying which restaurant they were at, which country they were travelling to, etc….. Everywhere I was going, particularly on the trains, out in the clubs/bars, people were accessing the internet on their smart phones and logging into facebook/twitter with location based information. It just made sense. I was already experimenting with Google Latitude, BrightKite, and then GoWalla so I could see the space was hotting up.

Where are your friends and what are they doing?

The thing I like about foursquare is that you can see where your friends are and what they are doing. Often when you are out, you might just miss them. The next time you see them you’re like “I can’t believe you were there! I was there too!” or “You just missed me!” or you call them and ask “Where are you tonight?”. With foursquare, I know exactly where they are (if they choose to disclose this information). I can find out new venues which my friends are checking out, and it encourages me to go there too.

There are also some other interesting outcomes. An example from last Friday, I was at the Arthouse for my high school reunion. One of my colleagues was meeting up with another friend at Arthouse. He saw on foursquare that I was there! So he walked around looking for me, and I found him!

You choose to follow people in your network and I try to find similar minded people and see where they hang out. I also like seeing who else has checked-in to a venue. So social networking is an important element in Foursquare.

Where are your friends?

Where are your friends?

Tips

You can also get tips at venues ala eatability. I love going to a restaurant, check-in to a venue and reading the tips other people have left. One of my favourite restaurants at the moment is Chat Thai, in Sydney’s chinatown. I read a tip on Foursquare to try out the strawberry blend. I did and it was awesome! If I eat something which I like, or have a tip on my favourite dish on a venue or even a bad experience, I will write about it on foursquare. I also leave tips which other people may find helpful. For example, at Museum station, I left a note saying that some of the entrances close at 8pm (it might be earlier), but thats useful for people to know.

Gameplay addiction – The checkins

Another element that is quite addictive and in my opinion makes it standout is the gameplay. When you enter a venue, you can checkin. You find the location using your phone – it will pull up a list of nearby locations or you can enter your own. After that, you choose to check-in to show you are there and it will notify your network. You get points for checking in. If you have 3 or more checkins, you can become Mayor of the venue. That is, if no one else is already Mayor. If someone else has more checkins, you have to have more than them to take over as Mayor.

In fact, I’ve been battling for control of Museum station for some time now! Another user had 10+ checkins at Musuem, so I decided to check-in twice a day (when I arrived in the morning and left at night). I became Mayor and then someone else overtook me. Now I have to get back on top again!! That keeps me coming back to Foursquare.

I’m currently holding down two mayor-ships (is that a word?). I’ve the mayor of Equilibrium (World Square Pub) and Bikaner Namkeen. I’ve actually reached super-user level 1, so I have the authority to edit and merge venues, which I intend to do with World Square Pub.

Player please! Get crunked! And more foursquare badges

Player please! Get crunked! And more foursquare badges

You also get points for checkins, but I don’t really care too much about the points. What I do care about is the badges. There are different badges for various purposes. Your first checkin gets you the “newbie” badge. Then there are badges for 10 checkins, 25, and 50 (they must be unique venues). The interesting ones are “local” (3 x in one week), “crunked” (4+ checkins in one night), and my favourite “player please” (checkin with 3 members of the opposite sex).

If you want a good post about the check-ins which foursquare pioneered, read this from the Scobelizer, someone I respect who blogs about the social networking space and the web in general. He talks about how the other social networking services are going to start adopting checkins as well, including Facebook, Twitter and Yelp.

Opportunities for business

There are some exciting opportunities for business. Potentially they can send out location sensitive offers. If you happen to walk past a venue, they could push out a notification with an offer to entice you in e.g. free entree with every meal. Alternatively, offer discounts to people that checkin. I’ve seen examples in the US of offering discounts to people that are Mayors of venues.

I must admit I’ve become a bit of a mini-evangelist for foursquare. I have convinced several people from work to sign up as well as some of my friends and associates. Now that I’ve got a fair amount of people on the service, its becoming a lot more useful. So don’t delay, signup!

I’m out like threesquare,

Matt

Australia’s own World Wide Rave

About two weeks ago, David Meerman Scott came to Australia to talk about social media. He’s a best selling author on Amazon on PR, marketing and social media topics and his books have been translated into 22 languages!

I heard him speak at Social Media Club Sydney (SMCSYD) and also had the opportunity to have breakfast with him and some other Sydney bloggers. He also had a speaking engagement in Melbourne.

You can read about the events from David here and from Jennifer Frahm (the organiser).

Here’s a pic of the breakfast:

dms breakfast

He spoke about buyer personas at SMCSYD – understanding who the buyer is and talking to them in their voice. I thought he was a really good presenter, fun and engaging.

The most compelling thing for me was the idea of giving content away for free. He gave an example of a dentist in boston writing an ebook of Oral sex and health which went viral. It was niche, eye catching topic and controversial and something people want to know about. He’s also a great example himself, as he gave away a few chapters of his current book, World Wide Rave. He also has a free ebook out as well (like the full thing). I actually read the free version of World Wide Rave, liked it, then went out and bought it.

I think a lot of organisations are very scared of using this tactic. They like to build walls around to capture data, and monetise. Don’t build the barriers up. Just give it away for free – don’t coerce them. It will generate more online buzz, be easier to share your idea and thoughts, and if people are interested in you, they will subscribe to hear you……..voluntarily.

I’m about halfway through the book and I got him to autograph it! Check it:

dms book

I also helped out in the online marketing of the event as my company, ND sponsored the event in Melbourne. A bunch of my colleagues contributed using our various skill sets from:

  • online display ads: nextbrett
  • Email marketing: James, Tiff, Me
  • Blog: James
  • Twitter @socialmediamc: James, Me
  • Eventbrite & Copy: Tiff
  • And Matt Edge who brought us all together.

If I have forgotten anyone, please feel free to shoot me =) I believe there is an interview video floating around somewhere, so hopefully it gets uploaded soon to the interwebs.

There’s some other bloggers who have blogged about it here:

Iggy Pintado

Justanotherprblog

Online Marketing Banter

Servant of Chaos

If there’s any other blogs out there, let me know and I will link through.

I’m out like World Wide Rave,

Matt aka Inspiredworlds

Some more rambling thoughts…..

1. PaaS – Platform as a Service. Now, I have become very interested (some may say obsessed) with the idea of the “cloud”. Its so elegant yet so simple. Store everything in the cloud i.e. online. I do this already with gmail, ical, google docs, wikis, Sales Force, book marks.

Its the idea that I don’t need to be at “my computer” to access all my information. I don’t need to carry around a USB stick, I just sent it to my gmail account. I can access my bookmarks via a bookmarking service like Delicious. I can access these bookmarks from any computer in any location. It is the same with google docs – any document that I make on google docs is available online. Google & delicious has become my computer, hence its so attractive.

This has spawned the idea of software as a service (SaaS) – you dont need to install any software on your computer. You just access it online. It’s the whole idea of Mailout, an application I support. You can access this email platform online, upload your database, push out emails from any computer. I use sales force for the same reason – all my business contacts, leads, virtually an entire CRM system is online in the cloud. Accessible when I want.

Now platform as a service I just came across today. I signed up to Force.com, an extension of salesforce.com. Its basically a platform from which I can build apps for my business. I can utilise existing apps, customise existing ones, or just create new ones. Its hard to describe but you can virtually create anything and its 5 times faster building an app on this platform than without one.

I love this idea. It’s like igoogle or even wordpress. The widgets are out there, I just plug them in or I can create them. PaaS and SaaS is just a smart business move. I save on the infrastructure, installation, running and customer service costs. The biggest impediments to these services are:

– Investment into existing infrastructure: If I have already spent several million dollars on servers and software, do i have an incentive to switch to the cloud? These are sunk costs which cannot be recovered.

– Security concerns: CIO’s and management are understandly terrified of having their information in the cloud. it presents a new security risk. Information could be more readily breached by external parties, because it is not restricted to people phyically present in the building.

– Uptime: its hard to put a guarantee on uptime (i.e the amount of time that the service is running and not down).

2. Conversations eventually move to email – where the heck is Wave?

Recently, a friend of mine posted a status update on facebook. Then I responded to her status update. However, I wanted to talk to her privately so I direct messaged her on facebook and we started talking using that format. She then emailed my gmail account. However, since I was at work I wanted to use my work email – it just made it easier to consolidate the conversation in one place and keep it going

This happened with other peopel as well. We start talking over facebook email or twitter direct message, but if we want to maintain the conversation, it has to go to email. It is just more convenient, i can write longer message and I can search and go back. I don’t always want to have public convo’s or perhaps I want to send an attachment.

What I find interesting is that if someone wants to talk to me, the conversation will eventually move to email.

That is why I cannot wait for Google Wave to arrive. Something that allows for me to converge my social networks and email together.

You can also see that Facebook’s strategy is starting to move away from a gated community. Facebook connect is great little login tool for other websites. You don’t need to sign up to another website, you just use your existing login details. But this is a post for another time.

3. Mobile Banking – I can’t wait for this to become mainstream. On Monday, I had dinner with a few people and I paid for someone as they didn’t have enough cash on them. The next day they transferred the money to my bank account. Another situation occured, where I sold a friend an entertainment book but they didn’t have enough money so they transferred the money later that day.

What would have been awesome is some kind of payment system for banking to occur on the spot. This is where mobile banking can come in. If we are at the dinner table and someone owes you money, they could transfer the money over their mobiles. Now mobile banking does exists via apps on iphone or simply logging in to your bank account on your internet enabled phone. However, it is not seen as secure nor is it widely adopted. Its actually been available for around 2 years, but hardly anyone uses it  – only early adopters.

This is better than smart cards with stored value. Having a phone which can transfer money would enable micropayments to be made. Pay your friend $20 for movie ticket, or $5 for buying you a beer, or split the bill and pay them $40 for a meal. A daugher ask her father for $100 to go shopping. Instead of reaching into his wallet for cash he can zap her the money via his mobile.

Studies show that if you lose your wallet, on average it takes around 2 hours for you to realise. If you lose your phone it takes 20mins for you to realise it is lost. And for those that say its not safe to do phone banking – people said the same thing when credit cards and ATM’s were introduced. It just needs wider acceptance and adoption – and this will occur over time. We are living in a cashless society and this will eventually become the norm.

4. Digital Radio is here but not widely adopted

I spoke to Daniel about this a few months ago and it has piqued my interest again as a contact of mine has started selling digital radios. It will be like digital TV. The signal will be clearer than analogue. Ability to go back and replay the broadcast. Essentially you need, a digital radio to be able to get the signal. You can also listen to radio stations overseas. Also, digital radio will have information that is broadcast with the sound – words, pictures, links, etc… Its a more interactive version of radio.

The radio sets aren’t cheap – they retail for about $280+ and none of them look particularly visually appealing. At the moment, its more for early adopters. This stuff is standard in Europe though.

It actually only went live in May 2009, so watch this space.

5. The possible uses of social media on B2B relationships: This is somethign I will explore in another post. TBC.

I’m out like software on your computer,

Matt

A quick note on location based information

I never seem to have time these days to update my blog. Five years ago, I used to update it every few days, but now its once every few weeks. Here are some thoughts I’ve been meaning to put down:

Location based information is the future.

Information by itself can be useful. But information in context is so much more powerful. Having information readily available, when you need it and tailored for where you are located significantly increases its relevance.

neighbour-hood-watch

A device that is powering location based information is the availability of the internet on mobile handsets. I recently discovered how useful this was when using some new apps on my android phone. A little light bulb went off in my head.

Here are two examples.

1. Quickpedia: Essentially this is a wikipedia client for my phone. It allows me to quickly look up information. One really useful section or tab in the app, allows me to see information about the area I am in. It uses my GPS location and grabs wikipedia information about the landmarks near me and the general surrounding area. That is incredibly fun and useful.

2. Places directory: This is an app made by googlers in their 20% time. based on my GPS location, it tells me about the following that is nearby – bars, restaurants, ATM’s, hotels, cafes, etc… It also gives me the reviews and ratings of these places, approximate distance from where I am and a one touch button to call the place! Amazing stuff. It pulls in all the information from google maps.

Location based social networks

I believe that having social networks down to the granular levels of location e.g. neighbours talking to each other will be the next step. It is a logical extension of what happens in the real world. Though you may not really talk to your neighbour in real life, you may be more willing to converse with a neighbour who might still be viewed as a stranger online.

Whilst its great to talk to people on twitter, facebook, et al from Sydney, Melb, USA etc…I would have also have a use for information about my neighbourhood from locals about where to buy the best coffee, what people think about the drycleaner, walking in certain streets may be dangerous, etc…

Whilst large online communities are popular, we’re seeing a move to smaller microcosms of activity like Ning. People forming their own social networks based on common interests. Locality will be one of these interest groups. For example, an online community for Bondi residents, North Shore, Paramatta, Geelong, etc…

I’m out like your local neighbourhood watch,

Matt

Yammer – collaborating with microblogs

On Wednesday, I had the opportunity to attend Wiki Wednesday at Google HQ. When I was RSVP’ing, I noticed that the format was short round robin talks of 5 – 15mins. One of the suggested topics was “How wiki’s integrate with Enterprise 2.0 tools such as Yammer and Blogs”. I thought to myself, if I am going to be there, I might as well do a short presentation on Yammer.

I had originally planned to talk about all 3 and how they work together. Given the time restriction, Peter (@HubertusB) suggested that it would be best to focus on one topic. So I decided to focus on Yammer, the concept of microblogging and presented a short case study on how Next Digital was piloting its use. 

Check out my presentation below:

I enjoyed all the presentations and I particulary liked the interactive exercise we did for “sharepoint v wiki”, and the insights we gained from that. I had fun presenting and I hope it was of interest to everyone on the night. The presentation has been uploaded onto slideshare for others to view it. As I actually have to do another training presentation on Friday to show everyone how to use Yammer, it was killing two birds with one stone =)

I also got to check out Google HQ, and it looks like a pretty cool place. Also, thanks to Jamie, Vincent, Walter and Aaron for coming as well and providing some moral support!

Here are some various twitter feedback and comments on the night.

mattnhodges1

pamela-fox-response

chieftech

jeloz

I’m out like Wiki Wednesday,

Matt Ho.

Beware the Witch of Man

On Monday night, about 300 people gathered for the inaugural launch of the social media club in Sydney. The event was held at the Polo & Supper Club in Oxford St and the event was well attended by the masses. By the masses I’m referring to marketing people, the digerati, the twitterati, PR people, etc…or whatever you want to call them. The key note speakers were the fake Stephen Conroy aka Leslie Nassar (love your work!) and Adam Ferrier of Naked Communications. The MC for the night was Tim Burrowes, editor of Mumbrella.  The topic for the night was “authenticity & transparency in social media” – one of those airy fairy marketing topics. 

At 6.30pm when I arrived, the place was pumping. They had two levels booked out, and the bottom level where the main arena was, was absolutely packed. Standing room only! (Well bars are made for standing room).

Man with the $349 jacket

Adam Ferrier went first and spoke about their infamous “girl in the jacket campaign”. This campaign was created for Witchery to launch their mens range and they had a budget of zero (emphasis) and wanted to generate a lot of buzz. So they created a fictious story where girl sees boy in cafe she fancies, boy leaves jacket, girl wants to find boy. Girl then goes to the enormous length of posting a video on youtube. The story then got amplified as the main stream press picked it up and they showed that Sunrise breakfast program, newspapers, etc… Their intention was to get the brand noticed and get people talking about Witchery Man. Check it:

 

As of now, 212,100 views in youtube. Pretty impressive for a budget of zero. I’ve watched the video for the first time, and although I have the benefit of hindsight, I would have been highly skeptical of it at the time. The way that she goes to great lengths to describe the jacket and how the “perfect guy” would be wearing it. In fact its not a bad jacket. Subliminal advertising must work on the weak.

Then the press started asking who is this girl, is this a marketing campaign, who is behind this? They eventually got outed. Naked & Witchery came clean and posted a video response saying yes it was us. I’ve only seen the videos now (after the talk) so here it in all its glory:

Man, I cringed when I saw this. It could have been executed a lot better and definently with more class – the way that Heidi turns it into a ad for the jacket. In fact, the only time I cringed even more in the last 24 hrs was when I heard Adam Ferrier’s response as to whether Naked was arrogant.

Its all about generating conversations

It seemed that for most of the night Adam was defending Naked’s actions. He even had stats to back himself up. But at the end of the day, I think he was convincing and I agree with Tim Burrowes comments on Mumbrella that he did help to sway the crowd onto his side.

Honestly, I don’t have a problem with this tactic of creating a false story or building a mysterious story to get customers engaged and talking about a brand. Brands do it all the time. It’s what we do as marketers. Can Jordan really fly? (Wait, there is doubt?), are pure blondes really made from pristine rivers? Brands make up stories and fantasies all the time to get customers talking and excited. All they want to do is generate buzz. If that’s the objective, then Naked slam dunked it.

Was the public misled about Girl in the Jacket. I have no doubt they were. Was their a line that was crossed? Yes – only when they made that cringeworthy followup video. If Naked did not do the followup video like that, I think it would have been a great campaign. Consumers are smarter than what we give them credit for.

Was it groundbreaking? Of course not. In fact some guy in the audience asked “Did the Witchery Man campaign helped increase the popularty of social media?” – dude are you kidding me? They posted a youtube video about a fake story and it got picked up by the press. It’s not as if they created Twitter. When the story was being told, I immediately thought of the real life campaign of NY girl of my dreams, the cybersearch by one NYC man for an aussie girl he met on the subway. I came across this when I was travelling in the States, and I had actually thought about it when I started reading about this campaign and the connection became even more clearer last night. 

I agree with Adam’s insight that social media is a communication channel. It could be more than that, but at the end of the day that’s primarily what it is. Yes it is democratizing media (see Ashton Kutcher). However, it does make it a lot harder for brands and marketers to do something similar now because people think they got screwed over.

It nots really Stephen Conroy?

I love Leslie’s work as the fake stephen conroy. Dude is funny but a walking PR disaster. He didn’t have a lot to say on the night and Tim was trying to involve him as much as possible by asking him questions as well. But he definently had a couple of good insights – that not everything created by companies on social media is great. Everyone does go nuts when they see a brand do something on social media. 

If you want to see more of the Witchery Man campaign check the video from the night.

I’m out like the man in the jacket, 

Matt

How to post an event on Linkedin & Eventbrite

Linkedin is being used a lot more these days for networking amongst professionals. Increasingly, more discussions, groups, and job opportunities are popping up on there too. We are also seeing a lot more events being posted onto Linkedin, to take advantage of the social networks that people have.

I’ve made a slidedeck of how to post an event on Linkedin. It’s actually quite easy, though a lot of people are unsure how to do it. There’s a Q&A on the Linkedin website, but not a step by step guide with pictures. So I did one =)

Check it!

I also included some slides at the end for eventbrite. Eventbrite is being used a lot more now to manage registrations for events. The way it works is that they take a slice of the ticketing fees. If your event is free, then using it is free too. So they work on a commission basis. It’s really cool and simple to do up as well. 

Some great features of eventbrite:

– Print out a list of the attendees

– accepts payment via paypal (no need for you to create anythign in the backend)

– ability for attendee to print out tickets

– there’s a barcode on the event ticket, and if you use a web cam, it acts as a scanner!

– listing of all events for cities, upcoming. You can also tell it to publish in search engines

– listing of all attendees on the registration website

Overrall, Eventbrite is great especially for small time promoters, non profit organisations as it gives them the infrastructure to manage ticketing and its looks very pro. Plus its very simple to use. In my slides, I’ve done a demo to show you how easy it is to do.

The best thing is that these tools are free. 

I’m out like ticketmaster!

Matthew Ho