“I’m the Mayor of Starbucks!”
This is the kind of kooky thing that really means nothing if you haven’t yet been exposed to Foursquare, the location-based social web application that beckons you to check in every time you open the door at a business or other establishment. If you’re lucky, you will be able to see who else has “checked in” at a location in case you want to stalk them (I assume that if they wanted you to know they were there they would tell you). And if you go to a number of different places, you get kitschy online badges that mean nothing. I mean, you can’t exactly sew it to your Social Media Merit Badge Sash, right? So why the draw to something that seems at first trial to be gimmicky, and how can we use this gimmickiness to our advantage as PR folk?
As with other location-based services, connections are made through places, not through contacts we already had. Users can learn all about the experience of people who have checked in and left tips behind them (or reviews, in the case of Yelp!). So for one, PR folks need to use services like Foursquare to monitor the sentiments of visitors to their organization and should probably be checking in at their own businesses/client’s businesses often to read reviews and tips. This is especially useful in health care, retail and the entertainment industries, where a good experience followed by a good review is a pinnacle achievement. And sometimes someone may take a picture and upload it to an LBS site that may actually be of good use to you in your outgoing communications. Free photography? Customer feedback? These are good things!
If we explore some more, we can surely use LBS for more than gauging sentiment and grabbing the odd photo. We can develop plans of action to help develop better relations with our customers or patients based on the tips and reviews.
The Other Square: QR Codes
I’m sure these things are designers’ nightmare. Though they may not be attractive they sure can be useful in helping link print media to practically anything online: contests, video, surveys — anything you can upload to a website. They are becoming fundamental in allowing us to share even more information or collect information without costly mail-outs or placing expensive ads. Imagine how one piece of paper can lead someone directly to a survey that you would have otherwise had to spend a lot of money on (a booklet mailed out or having a telephone survey poll done). We can use QR codes to collect information and drive traffic to our websites. In essence, we can spend very little to have a lot of information put out there. As more and more people switch to smartphones, the flexibility of a QR code will be evident.
We should focus our efforts on how QR codes can help us create better relations with our publics. I think if we them to help us gather information and feedback in exchange for some good or service, this may be a good application. I don’t see them as being standalone pieces in any situation; merely a new tool to allow people access to information.
The Buzz on Stumbleupon
I’m already addicted to Buzzfeed, my favourite discovery engine. If you’re looking for a fun distraction (read: kitten pictures, some nerdy art, a comedic list and the newest trending whatever) Buzzfeed should be your first stop. What’s great about discovery engines is that they give us a good indication of what people are paying attention to that day or week or even month. By paying careful attention to this, we may be able to tailor our messages and use appropriate mediums to get people enticed in what we have to deliver.
Or, you can watch Kittens at the Superbowl: Behind the Scenes…