The post below was written over 3 years ago and I thought it was worth publishing again after reading CHECKING OUT: THE DEATH OF FOURSQUARE (AS WE KNOW IT) by Paul Barron @PaulBarron on Foodable Web TV Network @foodable. Be sure to read the article before you read the post that I wrote from insights published by Olivier Blanchard @brandbuilder and Thomas Baekdal @baekdal.
Admittedly, when I published the post three years ago I was probably a little tired of hearing that Foursquare was a restaurant’s best friend and many of my collaborators were touting Foursquare. My focus has always been on restaurants and I encourage them to “Build their Brands from the Inside Out” and I felt that Foursquare gave restaurant operators little opportunity to publish content in a way that was engaging to a restaurant’s guests. Ironically, I touted Facebook as a better alternative to Foursquare for exactly that reason. Well folks, as they say the rest is history.
I want to give a big shout-out to Olivier, Thomas, and now Paul for showing me the light. For restaurant owners/operators the big lesson here is to do your homework before jumping headlong into social media. Keep building your brand from the inside out, don’t subordinate your brand with that of someone else’s, and never, never discount.
POST WRITTEN SEPTEMBER 2010
There have been so many articles praising Foursquare as some sort of marketing savior for independent restaurants that I just had to weigh in. Foursquare is a location based game that users play to collect badges and become “Mayor” of various venues whether or not they actually spend any money at the venue.
Restaurants have been encouraged by many to reward the “Mayor” with some sort of incentive. Starbucks, McDonalds, and Chili’s are among the most recognized chains that have been experimenting with Foursquare. Recently, there has been some tremendous hype around a test that McDonald’s conducted with Foursquare. Many touted the test as a tremendous success, however; if you read the attached you will see that the results were over-hyped and probably produced no appreciable return business.
Read the “The Real Story Behind McDonald’s Foursquare Campaign By Thomas Baekdal @Baekdal | Sunday, September 19, 2010 http://www.baekdal.com/insights/the-real-story-behind-mcdonalds-foursquare-campaign/ which was inspired by Olivier Blanchard (@thebrandbuilder). He tweeted:
Right idea but HORRENDOUS analysis by McDonalds.
- This was a contest with gift cards as the carrot. Long term impact: zero.
- Measuring Foursquare check-ins does not measure increased foot traffic. Only Foursquare check-ins.
- If you want to measure foot traffic, measure ACTUAL foot traffic. Metrics are not randomly interchangeable.
- If you cannot measure the financial impact of your campaign, all you know is its cost. You didn’t measure the outcome.
- Measure conversions: reach > response > visits > check-ins > transactions > revenue > repeat.
There is no doubt in my mind that Thomas and Olivier are very credible and definitely did their homework.
Here is my analysis:
- There is no doubt that location based services are becoming very popular with consumers. The facts are that Social Media in general is becoming more popular with consumers. Smartphones are our new toys and they are perfect devices for the public to play in Social Media.
- The providers of location based services realize that more users means more potential revenue for them.
- Foursquare has approximately 3 million users and users do not have to spend any money to check-in or potentially become the “Mayor”
- Facebook has recently launched “Places” which allows users to check-in, and like Foursquare it allows users to see who else has checked in to a particular place.
- Foursquare has virtually no content to speak of, Facebook is loaded with interactive content. Facebook also has 500 million users.
My advice to independent restaurants is to focus on the internals of your restaurant. Steer clear of the hype surrounding Foursquare. If you are already involved in a loyalty/frequent flyer program evaluate it, is it producing? If not get another one, they really do work when used effectively.
Be sure to follow Olivier Blanchard @brandbuilder and Thomas Baekdal @baekdal on Twitter