Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Crowd Sourcing using Foursquare

Foursquare is a location-based social networking website that allows registered users to connect with friends to share their location. It's a closed network like Facebook, meaning a friend will request to see your news feed. It has game aspect, as points are awarded for "checking in" at venues creating a scoreboard over the period of a week. You can also connect your Twitter and Facebook accounts which are then update your stream or news feed when you check in using Foursquare.

Another addictive quality of the game which makes it great for business is when you check-in to a venue more than anyone else, on separate days you are declared as the "Mayor" of that venue, until someone else earns the title by checking in more times than you. Being demoted from being the mayor of your favourite cafe or restaurant can be frustrating feeling and you may find yourself increasing vists to the location in order to reclaim your title back.  Other social aspects of Foursquare include allowing users to add "Tips" to venues so that other users can read as suggestions for things to do, see or eat at the location..

Some tech savvy businesses are already using the Foursquare as a way to promote their venue. Examples include offering the mayor free drinks or introducing a "Newbie" user to a venue and getting a complimentary muffin with a purchase. Offically, April 16 is declared as "Foursquare Day, and last week a South Melbourne cafe named ST Ali decided to make the most of the day by organising a Foursquare "swam". The idea was to use Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare to virally promote the cafe. If 50 or more people turned up as part of the swarm then the cafe owners would give away free coffee to the people atending.

The crowd sourcing effort resulted in 31 visitors that morning, it may have fell well short of the target by 19 people, but the event wasnt a failure by any means. Firstly the lucky the cafe owners attracted over 30 new customers that would have been elsewhere that morning and were also spared the cost of giving away 50 plus free cofees. I also see the ongoing value in the Foursquare swarm experiment exists in the spreading the word about the venue and the positive brand image created by an innovative small business using social media to promote their business.

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