Tuesday, August 23, 2011

There is More to Life than Facebook and Google Plus

With all the excitement around "Godzilla Facebook" doing battle with "Mothra Google Plus",some other significant social network developments are being overlooked.

Twitter recently did an overhaul of its appearance and more recently announced a new image gallery of its own. LinkedIn, a network of over 120 million professional connections, undertook an IPO and continues to grow in importance in the human capital space. Yelp hasn't changed much but continues to be very useful when looking for a place to eat.

And then there is one of my favorite social networks, Foursquare. Almost game-like, Foursquare permits you to "check-in" using your smart phone at various locations like the movie theater, a local pizza store or at the Washington monument. Digital badges are awarded for certain unique achievements. For example, you get the JetSetter badge after checking in at your fifth airport. Click here for the full list of badges. Check-in more frequently than any one else and you are named Mayor of that location. To date I have collected  24 badges, hold 7 Mayorships and racked up nearly 1,000 check-ins. I've wired Foursquare to optionally Tweet and post to my Facebook wall when I check in so my followers and friends always know where I am -- when I want them to.

Foursquare is not only designed for fun but can provide real value. After three check-ins at a wine bar in Manhattan, I was entitled to a free cocktail. The Mayor of a location is often entitled to discounts or free goods. Starbucks was the first company to offer a nationwide discount program to Mayors in its stores.

Foursquare alerts you to nearby deals when you check-in. At a local coffee shop, my check-in revealed a 10% discount at a nearby electronics store if I merely showed the screen. Of course it can also be used to suggest other places in your immediate area and offers tips, photographs and comments your Foursquare friends have posted about them.

Foursquare offers businesses the opportunity to attract customers through discounts, co-marketing and a collection of special programs. Earlier this year there was a major tie-in with the Super Bowl. More recently Foursquare partnered with AMEX building loyalty for both services and the participating merchants. Zagat has also leveraged Foursquare by recognizing Mayors since they clearly know the restaurants they frequent and can be used as opinion leaders to enhance the credibility of reviews.

Foursquare just announced a news service tie-in taking the service in yet another direction. Reporters from the NBC affiliate in Philadelphia will check-in and report breaking news from the location while their followers will learn about the story even before it hits a web site or other means of distribution. Yet another innovative use of a social media network to enhance subscriber value and increase station viewers.

Look me up on and "friend" me on Foursquare. You will (almost) always know where I am, and it will explain all the references to Dunkin Donuts you see in my columns and comments from friends.

By the way, Dunkin, as Mayor of a local store, shouldn't I get a free Coolatta or something?

Captain Joe

Follow me on Twitter @JPuglisiLLC