Geo-Loco : More loco than Local

I have gradually begun to Foursquare Russia 16 points, The Myndset Digital Marketing and Brand strategyween myself off of Foursquare. Gone are the competitive days where I feverishly checked in to see how many points I had won. One of my prouder check-ins was worth 16 points (see right) when I accumulated miles and a few other miscellaneous bonuses, upon arriving in Moscow.  I remember when I was proud to be the #1 person in my city on the Sunday night to have the highest points.

These days, on Foursquare, I am checking in generally only if three conditions are met:

  • I have a good internet /wifi connection on my mobile device
  • The person I am meeting is late (and, therefore, I have extra time on hand)
  • The person I am meeting is digitally minded and therefore might see my post!

On occasion, I still check in randomly on the street to see what/if any retailers might be doing with Foursquare.  On this front, I get very rare surprises.  Most of the time, retailers are mute.  The other factor that has generally meant that I have lost interest is the slow functionality (time to load up) as well as the relatively meagre interaction with the other Foursquarers.

Don’t leave home without it

In any event, the other day, as I was sitting in The Riding House Cafe in London, waiting for my 7h45 rendez-vous — who was decidedly late — I checked in.  {The bad news was that he forgot to show up at all.}  But, the good news was that I had unlocked a SPECIAL. American Express had entered into an arrangement with the locale, offering me a GBP5 cash back for a minimum of GBP5 spent for breakfast, using the Amex.  Good deal.  So, I followed the necessary steps and synced up my Amex with Foursquare.  However, a hitch occurred.  This was the message that I received on my iPhone:  “Can’t Load.

American Express Foursquare, The Myndset Digital Marketing and Brand Strategy

The issues with this are two-fold.

  1. First, I had been sent concurrently an email by American Express saying that the sync operation had been a success.  “Congratulations! You’ve successfully synced your American Express® Card ending in XXXXX with Foursquare.”  Thus, American Express/Foursquare had managed to capture my details and email address.   As you can imagine, the small print suggested that I had given away my rights!*
  2. Secondly, there was no way for me to debug.  No reason was given for the error message.  No helpline to call.  Just a form to fill in via the Amex website, once you had clicked through (in the footer).  I did receive a “reassuring” mail that a customer service representative would be back to me within two working days, ie. a day after I had left England (much less the fine establishment to which I’d been back on Friday).  As one might say, good luck, Minter!  So, instead of a happy feeling, I came away with a decidedly negative experience.
*The terms and conditions, of course, include: “We use your personal information such as name, email address and account number to confirm your eligibility for registration in the Programme and to provide you with Offers through the Programme. We also use information you provide through Foursquare regarding your location (“Location Data”) to provide you with relevant Offers from AXP or merchants….”

The key learnings for social media marketing

Execution is critical! {Tweet this, if you agree}  There are many shiny new gadgets out there and many wonderful options.  However, whether it is putting up a new site, implementing a banner promotion, or investing a social media network, making a mistake — even a technical one — on a digital device is going to create frustration and negativity.  Thus, it becomes critical that debugging and resetting become a part of the digital marketing (social media inclusive) path.  Is your agency or are your marketers checking in and trialling the beta first?  Is customer service fully versed and ramped up to deal with this activity?  While mistakes are a part of the new digital marketing world, it is still important to avoid clumsy errors.  Moreover, marketers working on their digital execution must find ways to think through the possible scenarios and assist their client to get the best user experience.  Specifically, if a bug arises, what is the contingency plan and how are customers accompanied?  Digital is not cold.  It needs a human touch!  {Tweet this if you feel inspired!}

Will Foursquare be Forever?

Even if Foursquare says that it has some 25 million users (as of September 2012) and indicates that there are 1 million businesses signed up on the Merchant Platform, I don’t believe it has cracked the right model just yet.  Granted my experience today was in England as opposed to the homeland, but in all my travels in the US this year, I have not had a much better experience.  {See here for an experience at the Crowne Plaza}.  Below is what I think Foursquare needs to go mainstream (aka make it):

  • provide much more value to the users than just frivolous points (for example: provide better deals, connections and a more interesting way to understand your check-in activities than just the top places)
  • allow people who are checking in and in close range to communicate to one another directly (not just leave comments on the checkin)
  • more integration with the high street (not just to make more money)
  • some offline marketing to raise its awareness, especially among the establishments (B2B)
  • a much faster load up for the check-in options
  • work harder to advise and equip the brand marketers to create a seamless and positive experience.

What do you think of these Geo-Localization services?  Will Foursquare stick around?  Or is it just waiting to be purchased (by a major distributor, for example, such as Target)?

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