Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Foursquare and the new, new thing

There's been controversy surrounding Foursquare over the last couple of weeks, with analysts at Forrester advising that marketers shouldn't bother with the service.  Their view is that the reach is simply too small (4% of US users) to bother with.  Better to use more mainstream and established channels.

Yes, people can be too obsessed with the new, new thing, but that Forrester are wrong on this, both specifically and in principle.

1 - Yes, Foursquare may only have a very low level of reach, but with 100,000 iPhones, 200,000 Android phones, and 300,000 Symbian phones being sold each day, the number of people capable of using services like this is growing very quickly.

2 - No one is proposing that you put large amounts or a large percent of your budget into it. Advertisers that currently use it, for example Huffington Post, generally media companies, and they are doing it to boost their prestige by tying real world things to their programmes.  Others like Domino Pizza are using it for loyalty.  I doubt that any of the deals involve that much money.

3 - Some audiences are hard to reach.  Some audiences don't watch much TV, because they go out a lot.  Foursquare is specifically appealing to people who go out a lot, so it can be a good way of reaching these people. (to put it very simplistically).  In fact your audience is using it already, so you should be aware of it, and control how their experience of you within Foursquare.  This applies for lots of other services. 

4 - It's good to test new ideas and new media channels, with small budgets.  Set up targets and work out how you're going to measure it, but please use some of your budget to test new things.

5 - It's good to deal with young companies.  Imagine it you'd been dealing with Facebook back in 2005.  You'd be in a very advantageous position with them now.  The person you initially dealt with would be very senior within the company. In this way marketers should keep a track of companies & people with good ideas, and do business with them.

6 - Dealing with companies like Foursquare can generate lots of PR.  Yes, everyone is obsessed with the shiny and new, so why not be part of it?  With the caveats expressed earlier on targets and measurement.

7 - Finally, it's mainly a technology, so you can use it without any involvement from Fourquare.  Jimmy Choo is my favourite example of a brand using Foursquare, and they just went ahead and did it.  See also lots of innovative uses of Twitter.

To conclude, I agree that people can be too obsessed with the new, new thing, but use that buzz, allocate small budgets, test, learn, and refine.  Your audience may well be using it anyway.

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