Big Brands Check In with Foursquare
January 20, 2011 ‐ 0 comments
Ever wish you were more aware of the incredible things around you?  Millions have answered this rhetorical question posed by location-based social media Wunderkind Foursquare, with an enthusiastic "Yes!" and have "unlocked their worlds" to earn points, props and perks by publicizing where in the world they are — also known as "check-ins."  And where the people are, brands will follow. Users check-in at restaurants, parks, gas stations, malls, churches, stores, hair salons, hotels, gyms, and myriad other locations -- even the Oval Office.   Check-in with sufficient regularity and soon you, dear reader, might be awarded the coveted designation "Mayor," garnering the envy and adulation of your peers and coveted perks like a buck off of a Frappuccino or a designated parking space at the mall!  Some antediluvian fogies (and aging brand-builders) may view all this as a bit of a Faustian trade off by providing a continuous APB of one's current location for would-be stalkers, muggers and burglars in exchange for dubious recognition and trifles of nugatory value.  Far be it from BrandCultureTalk, however, to question the wisdom of 5 million+ happy Foursquare users!  The crowd has spoken! This frenzy of activity has not escaped the attention of tens of thousands of businesses and brands that have collaborated thus far with Foursquare.  With this location-based service (and other similar services such as Gowalla and SCVNGR), companies are beginning to think in new ways to assure an overall experience that reinforces the brand.  Across print, online, digital, mobile, and even social media as a platform, brands have formidable tools to maintain the consistency and delivery of their brand through language, images, logos, visual vocabulary and carefully crafted brand experience.  But translating the essence of the brand to a check-in application?  Why that's a bit trickier indeed. Bravo TV seems to have  successfully used Foursquare to engage its fans in a new way.   Uber-fans -- just like us -- who would never dream of missing an episode of the The Real Housewives of New Jersey, Atlanta or New York City or any of the other spectacular cities among the network's constellation of housewife excellence can now take check in at the very same restaurants, bars, and other places of interest featured on the shows, and in so doing, win badges, physical prizes and deals.  In fact, Bravo has selected more than 500 locations around the United States for Foursquare deals, badges, and irresistible treats. When Foursquare users follow Bravo TV on the site, they also receive tips and suggestions from the network's celebrities for other lifestyle brands like The Standard Hotel, Morton's Steakhouse, Forever 21, The Forum Shops at Caesar's.  Viewers gain a new understanding and appreciation of their favorite reality TV show through these interactive and social games, and even enjoy a bit of the glamorous lifestyle by sipping on the same "Skinny Girl Margaritas" and purchasing Milly Jungle Leaf Print Silk Dresses identical to those of the leading ladies! Even with additional partnerships with People Magazine ("People is pointing out the spots where celebrities like to dine, party, shop and sleep") and The Huffington Post, Foursquare isn't all glamor and glitz. Foursquare and brands like Zagat share obvious natural affinities.  Zagat followers "can benefit from official Zagat tips, show they love food by unlocking the new foodie badge and have opportunities to be featured on Zagat.com with our new 'Meet the Mayor'" series." And for those inclined to even more highbrow pursuits, The History Channel provides hints for the closest historic locations near to your mobile location as well as badges for visiting specific sites. Where all this ends up, only the most confident of soothsayers would speculate. But brands would be well-advised to put some serious thought into their selection of Foursquare partners -- and be prepared to cut them free if the overall impact of the experience dilutes rather than advances brand value.  That said, Foursquare is adding more than 25,000 new users and has over 2,000,000 check-ins a day, making the confluence of brand and user across the Foursquare touchpoint more and more common every day.  So whether you're a person or a brand (or both), what are you waiting for?  The time has come for you to become more aware of the incredible things -- and brands -- around you.
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