On Sunday of SXSWi, I met up with Eric Leist, emerging tech strategist and co-host of the About Foursquare podcast and Tech Interruption and Benedict Corpuz, flight attendant and true mayor of the San Francisco Airport, to record the weekly About Foursquare Podcast. Shaky cellphone pic:
As an enthusiast, I’m a fan of this weekly podcast, and highly encourage other users to listen. Eric and Ching Yu highlight important foursquare/LBS news of the week, discuss new badges and offer great insight and interviews. It’s really great to listen to while at work – if you don’t have a regular podcast habit, this could be your gateway drug.
This was my 4th time as a guest on the podcast, which you can listen to here. Comment on the post and get a chance to win a Dunkin’ Donuts gift card. Right before we started recording, I spit my gum out into a foursquare napkin that I picked up with coffee at the foursquare court, but didn’t use so I pocketed it. Eric and Benedict were very amused with my fangirlness.
With the growing popularity of foursquare and its enthusiastic user base, it is only appropriate to gather and chat about the latest news that is happening in the world of foursquare and location-based services (in general). Normally, these Tweetchat conversations last about one hour and cover a topic or two that is new in the world of foursquare. Topics have ranged from how businesses can best implement foursquare into their marketing to super user feature updates. No matter if you are a foursquare guru or foursquare’s newest user, #4sqCHAT is definitely a great conversation that I highly recommend. If you would like to participate in this conversation, we’d love to have you. Come join us each and every Monday evening at 9pm EST to talk about everything foursquare! Also, if you have a specific topic or two that you would like to chat about, we are always taking requests and recommendations. It is probably best to mention those on the 4sqCHAT Facebook Page wall and/or tweet them using the #4sqCHAT hashtag! Well, I hope to chat with you about the great world of foursquare! Until next time!
Las Vegas has rung in the 2012 4sqDay season with our first city proclamation!
If you’re throwing a 4sqDay party, making it “official” is a fun way to help promote it locally. Having been through the process, it’s not as daunting as it sounds – jump through a few administrative hoops, get cooperation from your city, and you’re golden. In 2011, Rachel from 4sqCincy wrote an extremely helpful proclamation guide for this site. Because of the nature of the bureaucratic process, this is something you’ll want to start NOW. It will differ from city to city, but here are some basic steps:
1. Go to your city goverment’s website, city council website, or mayor’s official website. They may have instructions about how to request a proclamation. If not, they’ll likely have email addresses. If the mayor’s administrative assistant’s email address is listed, that’s a good way to start. If you’re not having any luck, try googling “[your city] proclamation.” Or you could (gasp!) pick up the phone and contact your city or town hall. Many cities have requirements listed or clear instructions because people contact them for proclamations fairly often.
2. Write a letter, explaining who you are, what you’re requesting and why. Rachel used Chris Banks‘ Letter to the Mayor, but made it her own (as did many other organizers did last year, including myself). Since last time we’ve written, 4sqDay has gotten a ton of publicity which you can leverage. Check out our list of present and past proclamations. The high profile coverage that NYC Mayor Bloomberg received should give you credibility. Reference the 4sqDay meetup page for all the cities participating. If your city isn’t listed, create it.
3. Sometimes the city council asks you to provide proclamation language upfront. This is the trickiest part – Where As, proclamation language can be awkward. Sometimes, like in Cincinnati’s case, they offer a sample to work from. Rachel provided what she used. My city asked for 3 short proclamation paragraphs. Here‘s what I used. This might also be the point where you can request the mayor’s presence at your event.
4. You wait for a response. Depending on your city, this can be within the same day or take weeks. If there is a significant wait, I would recommend contacting the mayor’s office directly to explain what you’re doing, without being pushy. This would is also a good opportunity to invite the mayor to your party! Write a blog post. Emphasis your focus on local commerce/tourism and if your party has a charity element, mention that as well. If your mayor’s office is active on twitter, mention them in a tweet and have others do the same. You can get your local tourism board and chamber of commerce involved to help, but remember there’s a thin line between passionate and annoying.
5. They say yes! Some cities (like Las Vegas) will honor you immediately with the proclamation. Others invite you to accept the proclamation at a city council meeting and ask you to talk about it. Other mayors present it at the 4sqDay party.
6. You can then use this proclamation to garner more publicity for your event – get more businesses on board with specials and sponsorships, all in the spirit of 4sqDay. When you get your proclamation, LET US KNOW! Contact us on twitter or facebook. We’ll add you to our proclamation list and spread the good news!
Good luck. Let’s get started! If you are having trouble with any of these steps, let us know. If you aren’t hosting a party, but want to help out the organizer with this task, contact them. They’d love the help. Do you have any other tips to get a 4sqDay proclamation?
image credit: Finesse
This upcoming Foursquare Day meetup in Kalamazoo is going to be bigger and better than last year, especially with the growing number of businesses that have grown their participation with Foursquare and the growing number of users locally. Last year we went to several businesses to campaign to business owners that they should participate in Foursquare and why it is a benefit to their overall business. We ended up encouraging 25 businesses to sign up for Foursquare and 14 of those offered specials on Foursquare Day itself (check out our recap here).
If you are in a city where not many businesses are participating, consider signing up to be a Foursquare Ambassador and once approved they will send you these gorgeous stack of ambassador cards (pictured on right) with instructions on how to claim your business on Foursquare that you can give out to businesses. These cards were cool to hand out to businesses however it was truly taking the time to sit down with the business owner to show them on my laptop and smartphone what exactly it is to truly show what impact it could do. If you are impatient waiting to get approval or to get the cards, make your own. I ran out of these cards and started making it similar to the original using the same custom URL (http://join4sq.com/sarahlwlee) but tweaking it so that business owners would be able to contact me in the future but also add the caveat that I don’t have any monetary interest with Foursquare or a representative of Foursquare and that I am just a volunteer sharing the awesomeness of Foursquare with the business itself.
Prior to embarking on such a campaign here are a key few things you should do first:
- Get a couple of people to join you on this campaign so that you can cover more businesses
- Understand the process of how to claim a business on Foursquare so that you can explain it to the business owner
- Think about some key points of why Foursquare is great from a user’s perspective and also from a business perspective (Check out http://www.aboutfoursquare.com for some handy articles to aid in your key points development)
- Research the number of check-ins of the business you’re going to talk to on Foursquare so that you can tell the business owner the traffic in their store from Foursquare users (If it’s a dud or very low check-ins, there’s a reason why and maybe the business might not be a good match or there isn’t a lot of users in your area – but that’s a different campaign)
- Have a good 20 second elevator pitch why this is important to you and why it should be important to the business
- Call ahead to talk to the business owner to set up a time to meet or stop by the business to find out who the owner is and get their contact info
- Make sure you bookmark the pages you want to navigate to on your smartphone or laptop when you do your “show and tell” piece for the business owner and make sure you have good WiFi access when you meet the business owner (having technology go down when you’re trying to persuade someone to use technology is just the worst thing ever – so be prepared!)
- Extra mile prep: Do a PowerPoint presentation with screen shots – this can be helpful when you might not have WiFi access during the meeting
If you did all seven, then you are all set for your first meeting with a business owner to talk about Foursquare. If you did all eight, well… great job! Most importantly, let your enthusiasm and passion for Foursquare pour out of you as you talk to the business owner. Passion truly steals the show every time and a great way to win the attention of the business owner. After all, why wouldn’t you be passionate about it if you got this far in preparing yourself with all this Foursquare knowledge? You are not getting paid to do this for Foursquare, you are doing it because Foursquare is a great mobile app that helped you explore your community and bridge friendships. Getting a business on Foursquare just further enhances your experience as a user as well as other fans of Foursquare, more specifically when they offer loyalty benefits or check-in specials. The business owner benefits from customer loyalty and repeat business, you benefit as a consumer of getting great rewards and deals.
Overall, don’t sweat it. You don’t need to start a business to do this full time. You just need passion, enthusiasm and a little prep time to spread the word on Foursquare and what better time than now before Foursquare Day. It’s a great way to gear up for it and get the business community involved in the celebration. If you ever need to bounce ideas or just want to explore how to do this, tweet me at @sarahlwlee and I would be more than happy to talk to you about my experiences working with businesses on Foursquare. Good luck and leave a comment below if you decided to give this a go, I would love to hear how your experiences went.
A great way to encourage foursquare use in your community and meet other foursquare enthusiasts is to host a meet-up. At Foursquare Houston, we host them on the 16th of every month, in honor of 4sqDay.
Some foursquare meet-up tips:
- Ask venues who are already engaged in social media. We often try a venue that does not have a foursquare special in order to educate them, but it helps if they are aware of foursquare to begin with. This often isn’t easy. Small business owners are busy people and they often don’t have time to email/meet with you. If all else fails, go with a business you know or that already has a special.
- Plan early. Sometimes tip #1 takes forever. It’s best to start a few weeks in advance. That will give you and the venue more promotional time as well.
- Have ideas for specials. In my experience, many venue owners and managers aren’t sure about what they want to offer. Give them a few examples, using different items and different types of specials. It’s great if you have something extra-special for your meet-up, but you don’t want to push too hard. You’ll want this to be enjoyable for both you and the venue owner.
- Find interest locally. Whether it’s through a foursquare community, campus ambassadors, Super Users or a twitter list of local foursquare users – know your audience. Anyone will be invited, but it’s good to have some influencers coming. Invite them directly.
- Have a meet-up around a badge. Foursquare Houston has done meet-ups for the Wino and the 7-10 Split badge in the past. Next month, we’re thinking Don’t Stop Believin’. Don’t fret, I’ll take video.
- Be Giving. Have the check-ins for your meet-up contribute to a local charity. Snoball is a great tool for this.
- Make it Fun. Do you have something fun to give away from the venue or from a sponsor? I still have foursquare buttons and stickers leftover from 4sqDay 2011 that I pass out on the monthly meet-ups. Organize a real-life foursquare game. Work with the bartender to make a foursquare cocktail. You get the idea.
and remember… it’s okay if there’s low turnout. Have some personal conversations with other users, make friends, and discuss how to improve. Here’s to meeting new people with whom to explore your city and making everyday a foursquare day.
Have you been to a foursquare meet-up that wasn’t on 4sqDay?
p.s. yes, that picture is a Cheeto Burger that I had at the November meet-up at Hubcap Grill.
Sometimes deciding where to go for lunch can be the most difficult decision one faces all day. Day after day, picking a place for lunch becomes such a hassle you pass the decision from coworker to coworker like a hot potato. Mmm… did someone say potato?
No more schlepping it to that crappy lunch joint just because the guy in accounting has a crush on the waitress. Here are three different methods foursquare can pick your next meal. My foursquare lunch experiment: try a product that uses foursquare, go to the recommended venue no matter what and report back.
Method #1: via email
Where Next?! is a service that sends an email to you based upon your last check-in and suggests where to eat lunch.
- You can customize the specific days and the time you’d like to receive the suggestions.
- The email contains five different venues.
- The recommendations are based on distance, popularity amongst friends, popularity on foursquare and venue check-in patterns (people who checked in at a place you frequent also frequent this place).
- Specials are highlighted, but I’m not sure if they are weighed in the recommendation.
- Likelihood of me using it is higher since it’s sent to my inbox and no further activity is required on my end.
- When I first signed up for Where’s Next?! it took a while for the emails to actually start. It seems the kinks have been worked out now, because whenever I make changes to the settings, it’s responsive. Be patient, grasshopper.
- Just because a place is popular doesn’t mean it is good. And if a venue is too busy, you waste your precious hour waiting in line.
- It’ll recommend a place you’ve been to often (perhaps too often?). I guess Where Next?! is attempting to throw in at least one ‘safe’ recommendation in case the others are duds.
- Unclear if it takes into account my personal behavior – I don’t eat fast food, I prefer locally-owned businesses, I don’t like Thai food, etc.
- It often recommends a cupcake shop near my work,
which really shouldn’t be my lunch– wait, is this a con?
My experience: Monday I used Where’s Next?! and my polite email came in right on time. The very first option was a sandwich shop I had never been to, but 3 of my foursquare friends had. People who checked into restaurants I’ve checked into had also checked into this sandwich shop, and it was popular on foursquare in general. Although parking was abysmal, I found it a solid lunch choice and probably somewhere I would return.
Method #2: via third party app
- Lists eateries around you via distance and check-ins.
- You can type in another location from which to search.
- You can shake your phone and get a random suggestion.
- At the time, it was very slow and didn’t have my current location (it thought I was at home and not at work).
- It only rates places by distance and check-ins, no other qualities.
- It seems to be missing a lot of venues.
Foursquare.com got a makeover at the end of last year; now when you visit and allow foursquare to see your current location, you get suggestions based on the Explore engine. [Edit: Now with the new foursquare Explore (released today!), this is out of date. It looks like new website Explore is the ultimate in lunchtime recommendations. ~nb]
- Suggestions are time sensitive
- Based on the Explore engine – so there are places that are popular, places your friends have been to and places like those you frequent
- Suggestions seem unique; perhaps it’s because I visit the website so often, but I discover places I never knew existed (unlike Where’s Next?!)
- None, really. Maybe one – you get that little pop-up when you go on the site to do anything.
My experience: Wednesday at noonish I visited the foursquare.com homepage and awaited the first of three suggestions. Foursquare recommended a Mexican restaurant I hadn’t been to that I really wanted to try. When I got there and checked in – I leveled up on the Hot Tamale badge AND unlocked the Eater 38 badge! Huzzah! The tacos were excellent, too.
Conclusion: I will continue to rely on the Explore engine for recommendations until something better comes along [Edit: it’s arrived! that was fast, foursquare! ~nb]. I am still subscribed to my Where’s Next?! emails and even if I don’t open them every day, it’s always good to have some options when the inevitable question arises… “Where are we eating today?”
My question to you: Is there something you use for lunch recommendations?