The Foursquare fascination – Social Media Autobiography (part 10)

The journey continues…

This is the next post in the second series of posts about my experience with social media, a journey that began in May of 2009 (or even earlier if you focus on LinkedIn).  It has been an interesting one, and one that has been filled with a variety of experiences, successes, and learning opportunities.

Discovering foursquare

I discovered foursquare after hearing about it through the Mashable tweets that talked about it.  Here is a quick summary from Wikipedia on what foursquare is: “Foursquare is a location-based social networking website, software for mobile devices, and also a game. Users “check-in” at venues using a mobile website, text messaging or a device-specific application.[1] They are then awarded points and sometimes “badges.” The service was created by Dennis Crowley and Naveen Selvadurai; Crowley had previously founded the similar project Dodgeball, which Google bought in 2005 and shut down in 2009. As it closes in on 1.3 million users in June 2010,[2] Foursquare is being pursued by Internet giant Yahoo! Inc., which has offered as much as $125 million for the service.[3] Foursquare raised $20 million in June 2010 from Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz.[4].” >> Read the rest of the Wikipedia article here.  The service was launched on March 1, 2009.

My own experience – points, points, points

My first check-in (as I look back at my history at the foursquare website) was on January 8, 2010 at 8:10 pm at Un Mundo Cafe in Springfield, OH (which explains why it wasn’t in my first series on social media, which I did in October.)  I quickly fell in love with it, and my achievement drive loved the scoring mechanism.  In Foursquare, you get points for every check-in.  1 point for the first check-in, two for the second check-in, three for the third check-in, etc., so it encourages multiple check-ins during the same day.  You also get five points for your first check-in at a place and even more points for entering a new venue (location check-in).  There is also a leaderboard, which shows the current weekly totals for you and all your friends (similar to facebook personal where you allow people to be friends and you request to be their friend).   At the height of my foursquare use, I was conquering the leaderboard, with over a hundred points per week.  I currently have 65 friends. 

More outlets for competitive types…

There are two other ways to excel in foursquare, which is really a social media game.  You can become the “Mayor” of a particular venue (place), which happens when you check in a certain amount more times than anyone else.  You can also lose the “mayorship,” if someone checks in more than you.  I recall Sara McKinniss and I battling over the building we worked at (Commerce Pointe in Springfield, Ohio). 

The other badges of honor in the game are, actually, “badges,” which you earn from doing certain things.  I have 11 different badges, including Newbie (for your first check-in), Superstar (for checking into 50 venues), and Overshare (10+ checkins in 12 hours).  Here is a current list of badges

Is there a business application anywhere?

I was a big foursquare user for about four months (ironic, lol).  I have stopped using it (at least for the time being).  There are a number of reasons.  Foursquare works well, I believe for retail establishments, and there are a lot of stories out there on the web about how some businesses have made the game work for them – mayor discounts, for example.  The application for economic and community development, though, seems murky at best.  So, after trying it out for a while, I’m not really using it. 

What about for economic/community development?

The biggest case study out there is the State of Pennsylvania.  On May 25, the State put out a press release that it was the first state to join Foursquare.  The application here is to tourism.  “Foursquare is the hot new thing in the social networking universe,” said Pennsylvania Deputy Secretary of Tourism Mickey Rowley. “Think of it as social scene social media. You determine the places to see and be seen. Plus, its mobile savvy allows users to instantly alert friends of their location, offer tips and create a must-do list.”

The State has created creative badges and is working hard to get all Pennsylvania businesses connected to the social networking game.  “We would like to see every Pennsylvania restaurant, retail store, historical site, and museum join Foursquare,” Rowley said. “The best part is that it doesn’t cost anything to add a location, plus it gives businesses a chance to reward customers who are checking in the most.”

The State has its own website for foursquare – http://www.visitpa.com/trip-ideas/see-more-pa/pa-with-foursquare/index.aspx.  A recent article from Technically Philly (end of June) provides some more details. 

In summary, I think the best possible application for foursquare will be in the tourism area, but I also think the jury’s still out.

>> Foursquare’s article on how to use for business

>> How to use Foursquare to boost retail sales

>> Putting Foursquare to use for your business (Constant Contact)

>> Five ways to leverage Foursquare for business (Penn Olson)

>> State of PA joins Foursquare (May 25, 2010)

Over 1 year later – Social Media Autobiography (part 9)

You’ve come a long way baby…

Wow.  It’s been over a year.  Last October, I did a started a social media autobiography.  I was supposed to speak on a social media panel this week, but I’m on vacation, so as a make-up, I told my good friend at the OCCD, I would do some updated posts on my experience with social media.  The next several posts will fulfill that promise.  To see how I started and how the first few months went of using social media and economic development, check out the list of prior posts here:

So, in the next 8 posts, we will update the journey.  Here’s what I’ve learned over the past 15 months, summarized in five principles:

  1. Don’t be afraid to experiment – not every social media outlet will work out for you, but the best way to learn is to do it.  Unless you’re going to hire out your social media function (which means you have deep pockets), read what you can on social media, but jump into the stream and see what works.  You can tweak as you go.  The planning side of me hates this approach, but I believe you can only really learn the tool by doing.
  2. Social media has an important role for economic and community development – I did a presentation in which I talked about how it is critical for what we do.  To some extent, I do believe that.  Sooner or later, you will have to embrace it at some level.  Might as well get on the bandwagon.
  3. Get help – long-term sustainability, I believe, for a community or organization involved in community/economic development, relies on multiple people.  Don’t be afraid to use interns and/or other colleagues.
  4. It forces you to produce content – the one thing that I know about community and economic development is the absolutely overwhelming amount of content that is out there on our product.  I love the blog because it makes me work on continuing to put into written-down form information about my product – all the businesses, economy, projects, quality of life, etc.  Almost 250 posts later, and there’s still more to do.  Without the blog, I would be a year later and not have all of that information in one place.
  5. Search engine ranks are very high – I don’t know that I will ever get rid of the blog, once I put all of the information (or a select subset of the information) onto the website.  This is because all the social media and online media sites rank so highly in google.  This is an amazing fact, and tags are amazing things.

Here are some summary statistics thus far:

Top 25 blog posts of 2009 (by SpringfieldEdge)

I have truly enjoyed blogging this year; it was a brand new activity for me.  I have been extremely satisfied with WordPress, although in the future I would like to put it on my own server.  There were 173 published posts this year (so far), and I thought it would be interesting to put them in a list for reference. 

(Photo by Suat Eman of freedigitalphotos.net)

1. Twitter Tips for Business – Part 3 (followers tips): I wish I could say that the reason this post listed highest was because of my brilliant writing.  The reality is that in this section I talk about how to identify porn in Twitter and the need to block it.  I suspect that it got picked up in searches for that reason.  The popularity of the subject and perhaps that people liked the post, though, also comes through the high ranking of the other posts in this series.  

2. Commerce Director’s Comments on prevailing wage: this post was an interesting one.  I attended a conference this year in which Kimberly Zurz, Director of the Ohio Dept. of Commerce, said publicly that the State was softening their stance on the need to use prevailing wage when incentives were involved, whether or not they directly funded the project or not.  I  got her comments on video.  The Ohio  Economic Development Association linked to the post, and eventually the Associated Press called me and asked if they could have a copy of the video as well.  It appeared online as part of their story.  Cool stuff.

3. 25 Twitter tips for business – Part 1: this one makes me happy.  I really enjoyed doing the series on Twitter, as it’s probably my favorite social media tool.  It was referenced by others and made several lists of twitter tips.  I loved that people found it interesting.  I hope to do another Twitter series early 2010.

4. Clark Kellogg headlines the Gathering’s Oct. 6 breakfast.  This was an interesting use of the blog.  I have a friend Jeff Pinkleton, who heads up the Gathering in Springfield, which is a Christian men’s organization.  I did a blog post on the event that was coming up (using the blog as an easy way to get up good-looking content quickly), and Jeff used it as his primary online promotion for the event.  It was a good use of the technology and helped out a friend.  In addition, his organization, which only is in big cities, helps highlight a great resource in Springfield.

5. Twitter 101 – Billy Fischer on 5 ways to use Twitter for business: another interesting use of the technology.  In this case, the Chamber held a four-part breakfast series on social media called “Social Media Bootcamp.”   Billy is a great SoMe guru from Oxiem, an online marketing company with offices in Springfield and Columbus.  In this post, I got a five-minute excerpt on video, posted to YouTube, of course, then brought into the blog.  The subject is very popular, and the excerpt is good.

6. Rudy’s Smokehouse BBQ opens second location: this is another interesting story.  Rudy’s Smokehouse BBQ is a Springfield restaurant and caterer that has a great reputation and even better food.  They opened their second location in one of Springfield’s shopping districts.  The post ranks high in Google (relatively speaking), and people liked it.

7. Klosterman bakery profiled in TV show this week: did a profile of this bread-maker’s Springfield operation, its business, as well as the timely event of being featured on TV.  Similar to Rudy’s in that it comes up high in searches.

8. Top employers for the Springfield, OH MSA: a research-oriented post.  This information is constantly being sought by a number of people.  This is the best, most up-to-date listing of employers and provides the number of employees (in ranges), as well as links to each business.  Useful post.  Good example of making it easy for me to deliver information in a way that increases customer service.

9. Large projects in Springfield, OH MSA (2001-2009): another research-oriented post.  This is a key post for me as an economic developer.  Here is where I (publicly and online) keep track of larger investment and job creation projects in our community.  I use the information a number of ways, and it is great evidence of the economic strength, growth, and viability as a location for business even in these tough times.  3100 new jobs and $750+ million in new investment doesn’t lie.

10. Annual Meeting – Business Expo – spots going quickly: similar use of the technology as with the Gathering post, but for our own organization (Chamber).  A great feature of this was the ability to update very quickly, upload new maps of the expo layout, and a place to drive interested traffic from other sources like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.  This post will continue to get major hits in 2010.  We sold out the majority of the booths in a week, and much of that was due to Social Media.

The honorable mentions:

11. About

12. Interview with Rudy Mosketti, founder of Rudy’s Smokehouse  BBQ

13. 25 Twitter tips for business – Part 2

14. Training grant seminar 2009 – Mary Benedict’s presentation (ODOD)

15. Construction on whitewater project continues

16. Red Roof Inn’s NA Contact Center continues to grow

17. Springfield downtown development update

18. Video – LaVaughan Ricci about Cedarville

19. 46 Springfield, OH companies selling to the government (2000-2008)

20. Seasons Bistro offers sophisticated cuisine, intimate atmosphere

21. Trucking company Imperial Express expands – new location, routes, technology

22. SBA ARC loan program offers $35K to hurting businesses

23. Office – Springfield skyscraper now has space available

24. Training Grant Seminar 2009 – Clark State, WorkPlus, ODOD

25. Social Media for HR Professionals

Social Media for HR Professionals

SHRMA Logo

Here is the information from and for a presentation I am going to do today at the monthly Springfield, OH Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) Affiliate (called SHRMA).  The videos beneath the PowerPoint were embedded in it.  All the way at the bottom are links to resources referenced in the presentation.

>> Video 1 – “Social media is not a fad”

>> Video 2 – Arizona HR + Twitter (radio show about legal issues)

>> Video 3 – Tod Maffin on Recruiting the Facebook Generation

>> Video 4 – TweetMyJobs – It’s That Fast (funny)

>> Video 5 – Corporations & Social Media (to ban or not to ban)

Recruitment

>> SHRM Survey – Social Networking Sites + Recruiting in Tough Times (Oct. 2008)

>> LinkedIn for Recruiters: Advanced Techniques for Finding Top Talent on LinkedIn

>> LinkedIn – Hiring Home

Social Media Policy

>> Blogging & Social Media Policy – A Sample (About.com)

>> Sample Social Media Policies – 123 Social Media

>> 10 Must Haves for your Social Media Policy – Mashable

Professional Development

>> Twitter – David Zak’s HR Twitter List (130+)

>> Twitter – #hr Twitter search

>> HR Blogs – The Top 50 HR Blogs to Watch in 2009

>> HR Blogs – Evil HR Lady – and Other Saucy HR Blogs

>> HR Blogs – Top 25 HR Blogs

Training

>> Twitter – How to live tweet an event

>> YouTube – How To Make Video For YouTube : Setting Up Uploads On YouTube

>> SlideShare – Upload Slide Shows to Slideshare

>> WordPress – Updated WordPress – Step by Step Tutorial on How to Blog

Breathing new life into email – Social Media Autobiography (Part 8)

The last issue of the SpringfieldEdge eNewsletter

The last issue of the SpringfieldEdge eNewsletter

ConstantContact a great program

I have been doing an eNewsletter (email newsletter) since July of 2008 using a great program called ConstantContact, which sends 1.2 billion emails out every month on behalf of 300,000 paying customers (sorry it sounds like a commercial, got it from the website).  In fact, I’ve been using that service since 2003. The templates are relatively easy to use and customizable.  I’ve built a permission-based list to about 500 readers, and I send out something about once per month.  The newsletter used to feature my comments plus four stories. 

eNewsletter as blog post summarizer

Well, those stories are now really blog posts and I have about 25 or so of them every month.  So, I decided to make the newsletter (at least the four “stories” sections) into mini-directories of the blog posts.  The flavor of the posts varies somewhat from month to month, so I recalibrate the four headings so that I get a number of blog post links under each heading.  Then, I still have the ability to comment on one particular topic toward the beginning.  The response was really positive, open rates about at 50%, links clicked on exceeding the number of people receiving it.  Blog post views shooting up to 300 or more on the day of and after it comes out.  The other thing worth noting here is that Constant Contact made it possible to archive your newsletters, which de facto creates a webpage out of the newsletter, with the same great graphics that are in the email version.  The URL for the newsletter can be shortened and sent out via Twitter as well as posted on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Other uses for old style email 

I also started doing email updates to particular constituencies, such as the Manufacturers’ Council.  I’ll pull blog posts that are relevant to them and include it among the items covered.  This also drives more traffic to the blog and delivers more value.

Can’t avoid Facebook any longer – Social Media Autobiography (Part 7)

Facebook

Couldn’t avoid it any longer – Facebook

Ahh, the 900 pound gorilla in the room.  Although I started a Facebook page (personal) on November 19, 2007, I didn’t really use it.  I used is somewhat when my high school classmates found me on it and invited me to the 20-year reunion, but it still lay pretty dormant until less than a month ago.  I only have 135 friends right now, and I still am not entirely comfortable with the platform, but its reach and importance cannot be denied.  As they say, 300 million users can’t be wrong.  On September 22, I created a fan page for SpringfieldEdge, as an alternate way of getting the word out, and then I set the Facebook page to automatically post the same thing to Twitter.  So, now, when I finish and publish a blog post, I post on my SpringfieldEdge Facebook page (which then automatically posts to Twitter) and then post on the LinkedIn Chamber group.  I have also put some events into Facebook and am looking forward to continuing to develop this platform.  The blog also allows you to track referrals, and although I only have 39 fans, I’m getting some good referrals. 

Interaction rules

And (and this is a big and), I just got my first interaction on Facebook.  A senior living in Shawnee Place commented on a video update of downtown development that was recently posted.  I was able to comment back.  The blog also has places to comment, but Facebook may be more inviting in this way.  Some people have said they “liked” certain Facebook posts.  The interaction potential is really good.  Not to mention the ability to instantly chat, a feature which has already been put to the test, as more than one person “approached” me via Facebook chat.  A small pop-up box came up and the conversation started.

Interaction continued…

A couple success stories that I can think of already with this medium (in addition to the comments/interaction and the chat).  A local business had interacted with the business outreach (HITS) team and found out that I may be aware of some resources to help him.  He sent me a Facebook message (like LinkedIn, it has its own messaging system).  Because my BlackBerry has a Facebook application already installed, I was able last Saturday at the Buckeye Invitational Band Show, have a quick conversation with this business about their product. And I could do it from the stands.  Pretty neat.  In another case, a former employer contacted me via Facebook to ask my opinion on some job applicants I knew.  Facebook was the way they reached out.  

>> SpringfieldEdge Facebook Fan Page

>> Facebook personal page

ROI with Twitter – Social Media Autobiography (Part 6)

Twitter header

ROI with Twitter

Since starting on May 20, 2009, I have sent out over 1700 tweets (text messages) and have over 2200 followers (people receiving my messages).  According to Twitter grader, I’m the top Twitterer in Springfield, OH.  But, as much as I like numbers (and my friend Billy Fischer will tell you it’s not about the numbers but quality of relationships), the better question is – has Twitter been successful for me and my business/mission?  Well, it’s certainly hard to judge for the first four months, but I get several different kinds of positive feedback. 

1. Interaction

First, people I did not know before are interacting with me because they find me on Twitter.  It provides another avenue of approach and accessibility. I’ve had several business lunches with people who first talked to me on Twitter.  I’ve met – in real life – people in the IT, insurance, and manufacturing industries as well as community activists who first approached me via Twitter.  It’s been a great way to make new relationships.

2. Feedback

Second, I get feedback from people that they’ve heard from other people who don’t know me that the content I put out is really valuable and a great way to know what’s going on.  I get feedback from social media people and business people locally, in Columbus and in different parts of the State.  A good example of real results is the Controller for a local manufacturer who had a grandfather who worked the rail lines.  He saw a couple of tweets that I did on rail updates with video of Jim Bodenmiller and a visiting developer talking about the benefits of the Northeaster rail line.  He contacted me, said he stays in contact with me via Twitter and the blog and through that conversation I was able to find out what the expansion plans of that company are.  Great stuff.  It increases the reputation of the community and awareness of things going on. 

3. Awareness 

This awareness is a third positive ROI.  I tweeted once about the Springfield Symphony Orchestra and someone responded that they didn’t know there was one.  They were able to get informed and responded with a “wow, ok, looks good.”  Next, we can promote Chamber businesses as well as community and regional assets.  Overall, it’s enhancing our branding (particularly the SpringfieldEdge economic development brand) and disseminating positive information about Springfield.

So, what’s your ROI?

How do you measure your return on investment with Twitter (time being the biggest investment)?  Would love to hear your thoughts.

Past posts in this series

This is the sixth part in a series on my history and use of social media.  Others include: