Geo-locational social media platforms such as Foursquare may not yet have come of age, but they’re not far off this mark. If you’re associated with the organisation of large public events you need to start getting your arms around this new branch of social media; ideally leading through to a fully mapped promotion and engagement strategy as part of every event.
The 2011 Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne over the weekend was an interesting study through the Foursquare lens. Here are a few observations:
Would the Real Listing Please Stand Up.
4SQ allows transient events to be created and tagged as easily as it does permanent physical locations. 4SQ also has no way of knowing which, if any, is the official listing – anybody can create a one. The platform permits multiple listings created by individuals at different physical locations, or different listing names at more or less the same physical location (this is going to become a bun fight down the line – it’ll be interesting to see how 4SQ mitigates this confusion).
Over the life of the 2011 Melbourne GP, three separate listings were created which pertained to the track and the event:
– ‘Australian FI Grand Prix 2011’
– ‘australian grand prix’
– ‘Melbourne QANTAS Formula 1 Gr…’ (only 30 +/- characters and spaces will display)
It turns out that the second listing ‘australian grand prix’ was most likely the official one – there were two indicators for this:
1. They were offering ‘Flash Specials’
2. GP event staff were registered on their admin page (the function of ‘employee’ 4SQ registrations is so staff can’t obtain the mayoralship and other privileges, but can still check-in).
Unfortunately, this listing was created all in lower case – it didn’t look very official. The ‘Australian FI Grand Prix 2011’ listing with its upper casing and the year displayed looked a lot more like the real deal. The third listing got very little attention throughout the event, but interestingly mentions the principal sponsor, Qantas.
It’s important to note that when a person checks into a 4SQ location (or event) the title of the listing travels through their social networks: 4SQ, which in turn is then commonly sydndicated through to Twitter. If I were an event sponsor, I’d insist on my brand name appearing in the listing title to maximise exposure across the various channels.
By Sunday afternoon at the height of the race there were approximately 130 people checked in to the unofficial listing, ‘Australian FI Grand Prix 2011’. By comparison, the official ‘australian grand prix’ listing had around 25 check-ins. The Qantas tagged listing had fewer than 10 (if I were a gambling man I’d confidently bet that these numbers will increase 10-20 fold by the time the 2012 Melb GP rolls around).
I suspect that when people are confronted with multiple listings at an event, one listing will get to the tipping point first, and will then dominate – people tend to check in to the listing with the most check-ins (when given a choice people will gravitate to the busier of two restaurants). Additionally, for many 4SQ fans the opportunity to earn a ‘swarm badge’ would certainly have swayed their choice (swarm badges are hard to come by and coveted – they are unlocked when 50 or more people check in at the same place within a certain time-frame).
The official listing ran a flash special over each of the two days (see below). Specials are a great way to incentivise people do something with a sense of urgency – offers can limited around quantity or time. They also force people to check into the listing to claim the token associated with the special.
Several retailers within proximity of the track had their 4SQ specials heavily promoted throughout the weekend. If I had a retail or service business located close to a public event I would put out a hot event related special to drive foot traffic into my store/ bar/ restaurant/ brothel after the event.
Takeaway Thoughts for Major Event Organisers Wishing to Integrate 4SQ into Their Promotional Program
– Create your event listing at the physical location where it’s going to be held, as early in the day as possible (you’ll need to get someone on the ground to do this).
– Put thought into the event title, especially if important event sponsorship is involved.
– Encourage people to check-in via other social media and off-line display materials (4SQ have a range of downloadable and print-friendly marketing collateral to tap into). Also, display the official listing title so people know which one they should be checking in to.
– Get as many people as you can to check-in early in the day to help establish your listing as the most credible one (maybe offer a series of flash specials at the start of the day to get that critical mass happening).
– Offer flash specials throughout the entirety of the event.
– Encourage people to upload photos (on-the-ground prizes could be offered for the best photo/s submitted).
– Encourage other vendors at the event to offer specials – these will show up as ‘specials nearby’ when somebody checks in.
– Create some ‘to do’s for people to check off as ‘done’– and incentivise people to do them, and/or cross promote your other social media channels (see example below)