This is part of our 20 Interesting Things series that will look at interesting and innovative happenings in the digital and social worlds. Look for our other presentations that cover augmented reality, crowdsourcing, QR codes and goodness.
BEFORE WE BEGINThis is the first in a series of white papers we plan to publish this year capturing and exploring interesting happenings in the digital and social worlds.
It’s no secret that location-based mobile social check-in services have exploded this year (heck, by the time this is published, Facebook will have launched their own check-in version).
There are a lot of players: Foursquare, Gowalla, Whrrl, Loopt, Brightkite and a handful of others. While Foursquare may not be the biggest, it is the media darling and seems to have the attention of quite a few marketers. For that reason, this mobile location-based check-in deck will focus on what is happening on Foursquare from a marketing perspective.
A LITTLE ABOUT FOURSQUAREFor those of you unfamiliar with Foursquare, a quick lesson. Foursquare is a mobile social networking tool/game founded in March 2009. It is an app that uses the GPS in a mobile device to help users identify their Foursquare “friends” where they are. There are three core user components to the service:
1. Check-in: each time a user enters a location, they can use their mobile devices’ GPS and the Foursquare app to announce their presence at this location. Users who check into any given location more than anyone else become the “mayor”
2. Badges: users can earn various badges for check-ins and tasks completed (see the next page for some examples)
3. Points: Foursquare users can earn a variety of points for their check-ins. They play against their friends and geographic destinations each week to see who can earn the most points
Some of the initial marketing efforts on Foursquare involved small local and mom/pop restaurants and bars that would offer free drinks, appetizers or discounted food to the “mayor” of their location. It wasn’t long before bigger brands started to notice the potential of creating marketing and loyalty programs on Foursquare.
Click here to learn more about these badges and many more.
#1 STARBUCKS Starbucks was one of the first national brands to recognize the potential in Foursquare. It started in March when coffee addicts could earn a barista badge by checking into five separate Starbucks locations. Read more here.
In May Starbucks implemented a monthlong “mayor” offer for each location. The “mayor” of each Starbucks location is entitled to $1 off of any Frappuccino, one time for the month of June. Learn more here.
Sources: The New York Times and GPSBusinessnews.com
#2 THE BRAVO NETWORK The Bravo Network is offering Foursquare players badges and special prizes when viewers visit more than 500 Bravo locations. The locations will be picked by Bravo to correspond with select Bravo shows including Top Chef, Kell on Earth, Top Chef Masters, The Millionaire Matchmaker, The Real Housewives and Shear Genius. Learn more here.
#3 DOMINO’S PIZZADomino’s UK is running a nationwide Foursquare promotion that rewards mayors with a small free pizza each Wednesday. Those who merely check in on Foursquare will receive a free side dish for their patronage should they spend more than £10 (or around $14.50). Learn more here.
#4 JIMMY CHOOJimmy Choo has teamed up with Foursquare to create a treasure hunt around London (called Catch-a-Choo) which sees a pair of Jimmy Choo trainers checkin at locations across the fashionable city. Contestants in the online interactive competition will need to follow the check-ins and arrive at the location before the pair of trainers leaves. If they succeed they will win a pair of trainers in the size and style of their choice. Learn more here.Source: misscooca.com
#5 PEPSI Pepsi is partnering with Foursquare to provide proximity-based offers for people who check into certain locations. Integrations could range from the basic existing offer set Foursquare provides (when users check in somewhere, they are alerted to offers in their area) to integrations into their back-end system, letting users check-in to get a Pepsi badge and show that badge at the point of sale to redeem an offer. Learn more here.
Concurrently, Pepsi is rolling out its own location-based check-in service called Loot. Loot is a loyalty-based program which will map out 200,000 Pepsi serving locations and allow users to collect points toward free music downloads.
Sources: MobileMarketer.com and MobileBehavior.com
#6 ZAGATFoursquare and Zagat, the restaurant-guide publishers, recently announced a partnership. Foursquare plans to offer a “Foodie” badge that can be earned by checking into Zagat-rated restaurants in New York, San Francisco, Chicago and other major cities.
Source: The New York Times
In addition to offering a special badge for Foursquare users, Zagat will begin piping tips and recommendations into the Foursquare system. Zagat also plans to run a series of “Meet the Mayor” interviews on its website, featuring Foursquare users who have checked in enough times at a particular location to earn the “mayor” title. Learn more here.
#7 WARNER BROS.Warner Bros. Studio used Foursquare to promote the February release of Valentine’s Day, starring social media darling Ashton Kutcher. The promotion offered 50 “Romantic Tips” around the cities (New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Boston) that the movie takes place in. If users checked into any two of these locations they unlocked a special Valentine’s Day badge.
#8 TASTI D-LITETasti D-Lite has announced the rollout of TastiRewards, a rewards program that incentivizes customers to associate their Twitter and Foursquare accounts with their Tasti D-Lite membership cards.
Sources: Mashable.com and Tastidlite.com
Customers can use their TreatCards (which also double as gift cards) to earn points for purchases, but those who opt into the social media bonuses automatically will earn additional points. They’ll also update their Twitter and Foursquare accounts each time the card is swiped and points are earned or redeemed. Learn more here.
#9 THE WALLSTREET JOURNALJournal readers can get news and reviews about local spots in the Big Apple through a partnership with Foursquare, and can win special badges that have been created for the newspaper, including the “Urban Adventurer,” “Banker” and “Lunch Box” badges. The news and review items are tagged by the Journal with specific locations, so that when a user checks in at that spot with Foursquare, they appear as related “tips.” Learn more here.
#10 MARC JACOBSFor Fashion Week 2010, the Marc Jacobs brand decided to go beyond just digitally streaming their runway shows. It took the online interactions offline through Foursquare.
Marc Jacobs and Foursquare created the “Fashion Victim” badge, which allowed Fashion Week attendees (and others) to checkin at any Marc by Marc Jacobs stores in New York and around the country to unlock the badge. Four people who unlocked the badge in New York were randomly chosen to receive tickets to the Marc Jacobs show. Learn more here.
#12 THE FINANCIAL TIMESThe Financial Times deal with a handful of leading business schools is the first major deal for the location service Foursqure in the U.K., and demonstrates both the kind of marketing campaigns we will be seeing much more of, and how mainstream casual gaming has become.
Foursquare users at the cafes in Cass, LSE, London Business School, Harvard and Columbia will be able to earn secret codes that will give them access to premium subscriptions for FT.com. More venues will be added as the campaign continues. Learn more here.
#13 HBOHBO and Foursquare have inked a deal around the new HBO original series How To Make It In America. A press release stated: “Hustle your way in to the NYC scene with HBO’s How to Make It. Unlock one or all four of the badges: Culture, Living, Cocktails, and Nightlife. Need some tips? Check out these sites – Blackbook, Eater, Racked, Flavorpill, and Urban Daddy – for more game.” Using bits of content, it seems HBO is hoping fans live vicariously through the characters and emulate their lifestyles.
#14 HARVARDHarvard has partnered with Foursquare to create a campus-based game that rewards students with badges and points for exploring the school and surrounding places of interest.
The news hails from the Harvard Gazette, which describes a partnership that essentially tacks an official Harvard-specific game with a special collegiate badge on the existing Foursquare functionality and purpose.
The primary idea behind the collaboration is to encourage students to connect more with friends and professors through location-based game play, as well as to inspire campus visitors to explore the grounds and uncover tips or share to-dos. Learn more here.
#15 METROFoursquare has inked a partnership with the Canadian version of Metro, the free newspaper that is distributed on subway trains and other locations in various cities, that will give its users the ability to see local news and reviews related to a specific location where they are checking in using the service’s iPhone or BlackBerry app. Learn more here and here.
#16 VH1The VH1 music entertainment network has created its own Foursquare account, which it’s using to post “tips” about locations featured in its latest reality show, What Chilli Wants, a dating-oriented series. These tips appear both on the Foursquare service and as pop-ups onscreen during the broadcast of the series. The pop-ups feature Foursquare’s branding and URL information.
Sources: Techcrunch.com and screen grab by Tristan Walker (Foursquare business development)
Other VH1 shows are funneling tips about featured locations into the official VH1 Foursquare account, too. Foursquare is promoting the channel as a service that helps users find sites of interest in their cities. Learn more here.
#17 PENNSYLVANIA TOURISMThe Pennsylvania Tourism Board has launched a summerlong campaign called “The Fantastic Roadtrip-a-Matic.” A centerpiece of the effort is a program with Foursquare that has sprinkled 100 tips at locations across the state. When Foursquare users check in at one of the locations, they will see the pieces of advice.
The tourism board is also offering users three virtual badges based on their activity. For instance, Foursquare users who visit three recommended historical sites earn a “PA 4 Score and 7” badge. The other two badges are the “PA Shooflyer” for visiting restaurants and the “PA Retail Polka” for shopping. Learn more here.
#18 THE HISTORY CHANNELFoursquare has sealed a deal with The History Channel to promote the 12-hour TV miniseries America, The Story of Us, labeled as an “event that tells the extraordinary story of how America was invented.” For the next few months, Foursquare users who check in at one of 1,000 locations of historical merit (in 19 cities) can unlock the limited-edition History Channel badge and learn illustrative tidbits about the area. Learn more here.
#19 PLANET HOLLYWOOD LAS VEGASFoursquare is getting love in the bright lights of Las Vegas. This picture was taken at the Miracle Mile Shops attached to the Planet Hollywood hotel in Las Vegas.
The huge outdoor ads, visible from the strip, entice users to checkin at the mall. If you do so, they might highlight your checkin, any tips and even prominently show the current mayor of the mall. Visitors also may get offers for freebies from the stores in the Miracle Mile Shops.
AND FINALLY…IMITATION IS THE SINCEREST
FORM OF FLATTERY
#20 HUFFINGTON POST The Huffington Post, taking a cue from Foursquare, the location-based social network that allows users to win “badges” for checking in at various places, has launched a similar feature for regular readers of the news site.
HuffPo now offers three badges that readers can win. The Networker badge is based on connections with other readers and with Facebook or Twitter, while the Superuser badge rewards readers for commenting on stories and for sharing them through services such as Twitter and Facebook. The Moderator badge is based on how many comments a reader flags. Learn more here.
WRAP-UPRetail, media and entertainment outlets really seem to be the first adapters of Foursquare. CPG is starting to take notice.
Many marketers will ask, why does this matter? It matters because of engagement and being where your customers are, when they are. With the explosion of smartphones and 3G networks, consumers will be using their mobile devices like never before. Staying connected in the mobile social space is a huge part of that and brands that can figure out how to be involved by adding value, but not being in the way, will be the big winners.
Moving forward, the savvy marketers are going to add location-based services like Foursquare to their social arsenal that already includes the basics such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and corporate blogs.
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