Category Archives: Foursquare

It’s Just A Game – Part 2

Foursquare and Twitter have their own sets of rules.  But what makes a game a game?  Having a winner and a loser – or at the very least keeping score.  Klout is an online service that does just that.  It grades you based on your Social Media influence.  It calculates how many people will view any given update you post on Facebook or Twitter.  Then it gauges how many of those viewers will actually do something because of your post –such as click, “Like”, or retweet.  With those variables, they assign you a score from 1-100.  The higher your score, the better you are at the Social Media game and the more people want to associate with you online.  Your Klout ranking quickly assesses whether you are in fact a winner or a loser.

Whether the rules are obvious, like with Foursquare, or a matter of trial and error, like Twitter, there certainly are rewards for playing the game correctly.  For any brand, high Klout scores and plenty of followers may lead to the holy grail of Twitter rewards… a little blue check next to your name!  That little mark means you have so many engaged fans and therefore SO much online influence, that Twitter needed to obtain documentation to prove you are who you say you are online.  That little blue check means you are so significant that you made it onto Twitter’s radar – and anyone who knows anything about Twitter, knows you’re kind of a big deal.

The Foursquare equivalent would be the coveted “SuperUser” badge.  It’s a strange reward.  You essentially become an unpaid intern.  You edit inaccuracies and grammatical errors or merge duplicate venue listings on their website.  For a dedicated user, though, this title means you are a hardcore Foursquare user.  Similarly, if you rack up the highest number of visits to a specific business, you earn the Mayor designation (way cooler than a badge).  This honor is a little more up my alley because it can come with perks.  There can only be one mayor for any given location, making the rewards more exclusive and the title more competitive.  Discounts and special offers are commonly offered to Mayors nationwide.  Checkers offer Mayors a free milkshake with every visit.  Site For Sore Eyes awards a year’s worth of free contact lenses.   An LA real estate agency even dolls out $1000 reward if you find them a buyer for one of their listings.  As Foursquare and Groupon consider joining forces, discounts and coupons for specific badges and Mayorships will become even more widespread and more competitive.

Users Check In to Foursquare at all hours of the day and night.   When it comes to the Social Media game, there is no Time Out.  It is constant.  It doesn’t stop on weekends or holidays.  It doesn’t go to sleep.  It also lacks forgiveness, as we learned from our TSV tweet fiasco.  At times, the race to become a winner can feel downright exhausting.  If you’re like me, that’s when you turn to Facebook.  Facebook is my safe haven from the Social Media game.  I don’t accept strangers as my friends.  It’s filled with people, who like in real life, cut me some slack when I get busy and don’t drop me as a friend because I didn’t have time to post something that day.

When the ceaseless game starts feeling like an obligation, do the prizes keep us coming back?  Is a $1 discount off your favorite coffee worth the hassle of Checking In every time you swing by Starbucks?  Is constant vigilance over your tweets and your followers worth that little blue check mark?

Everyone plays the Social Media game for different reasons.  Businesses love Foursquare because it encourages visitors to return over and over and over again.  Foursquare patrons are rewarded with discounts, special offers, or just the amusement of crossing badges off their list.  A high Klout number or Verified Twitter status is a status symbol for any brand.  It signifies influence.  It puts you on the map as a leader in your industry.

Losing 20 Twitter followers in a day was an immediate warning that as a business, we couldn’t afford NOT to play the game.  It’s not always straightforward, and it’s rarely something you can be good at if you only practice intermittently – But the winners go home with some great prizes.

Don’t miss out on It’s Just a Game – Part 1

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It’s Just A Game – Part 1

When did being social online turn into so much work?  Somewhere along the way, the rules changed.  Now there are guidelines and protocol you need to follow. Social Networks feature unique versions of scoring and prizes.  Social Media is now a game… plain and simple.  It’s a game with very obvious winners and losers and your score is determined in real time. The consequences are immediate and passivity is punished.  Is the payoff worth the trouble?

Foursquare doesn’t describe themselves as game anywhere on their website.  But how can it not be?  It has rules and rewards.  It even makes you compete for titles.  Foursquare doesn’t just let you “Check In” to the businesses you visit on a regular basis.  It also keeps a tally of how many times you visit each location and how often.  The rules are simple: The more you visit, the closer you get to earning badges.  Badges don’t necessarily entitle you to any special privileges or special discounts, but they have some pretty cool titles like “Superstar” or “Jet Setter.”

Foursquare is like playing Super Mario Brothers.  (That’s right, I’m old school).   You play level after level until you finally come face to face with Bowser.  After defeating him in a momentous battle, he still manages to escape with the princess. You have to follow him to the next level if you ever want to conquer him.  Every time you beat a new level, you are very aware of how much closer you are to your last Bowser faceoff.  You don’t brag about beating the first level.  You brag after you save the princess.

Foursquare is a lot like that.  No one wants the “Newbie” badge.  That means you’ve only Checked In to one place.  So you shoot for the “Adventurer” badge.  Afterall, it’s ony 9 Check Ins away.  Every time you go somewhere, you move one Check In closer to another badge.   (I’m guessing the creators look back pretty fondly on their days in the Boys Scouts.) 

It’s funny because Foursquare very specifically lays out how to get badges, but other Social Networks are not so obvious about their similarities to the gaming world.  Their rewards are a little different and the rules are harder to find and more difficult to follow.  Twitter doesn’t give out titles for the most followed.  It doesn’t say, “Hey, if you follow Mashable, you’ll pick up at least 5-10 new followers.”

It wasn’t until we had an unfortunate incident on Twitter that I made the gaming connection.   We had scheduled a day’s worth of tweets for The Social Vista to ensure a constant stream of quality content.  Little did we know that the site we scheduled them through was experiencing server problems.   No tweets were sent out for an entire day and we saw an immediate drop in our following…. After ONE day!  I was floored by the immediate response to our lack of activity.  All that hard work and diligence to make sure our Twitter page was constantly generating timely material was down the drain.

It made me think back to my former obsession with a Nintendo DS game called Animal Crossing.  I won’t go into all the game details here.  All you need to know is that it featured a little town and every day a few weeds would grow.  My character was supposed to pick those weeds every day or the other characters would get cranky.  If you missed one day of weeding, it was no big deal.  But miss a week or a month and it would be like starting the game all over again.  It required diligent observance and constant contact.

Twitter is the same in that you neglect your page for a day and you’ll lose some followers.  You neglect your page for a week or two – you might as well start over from scratch.  There are endless websites dedicated to teaching the unwritten rules of Twitter etiquette as well as tips and tricks to attract people to your site.  Fail to learn and follow the rules, and the consequences are hefty and immediate.  Hence the multitude of sites dedicated to finding out which followers left you and why.

The whole point of the game is to grow your following and keep the followers you have.  I’ll be the first to admit it – I get a little giddy when I open my email and see the list of new followers.  Then, I get a little bummed out when I see any of them jump ship before I even got a chance to DM them a “Thank You.”  Mind you, I’m not talking about friends and family cutting off their association with me.  I’m talking about perfect strangers… and yes… it bugs me.  People put just as much time into growing their following as they do into keeping it.