Writer, Speaker, Consultant
This article was originally posted on evolt.org, an online resource for web developers, maintained by web developers. I have granted evolt.org the right to use this article on their web site, and they are the only entity with the right to reproduce it.
Whenever I speak about social media I usually field a few questions related to the location-based social media services. These include Foursquare, SCVNGR, Gowalla, Brightkite, Loopt, and now Facebook Places. The questions revolve around who is using them and why. While it's possible to see and explain the potential in these services, sometimes tangible examples are needed, and usually more than just explaining how awesome drink specials can be once you're the "mayor" of a venue. Here are a few...
This is an oldie but goodie. Explore Chicago, Chicago's office of tourism, teamed up with Foursquare to provide a badge (On Location) to users who checked in to venues featured in the movie Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Other movies are included to allow users to pick from venues from The Blues Brothers, High Fidelity, The Dark Knight and a smattering of "chick flicks" (their words). Chicago also offers a badge for trips to blues venues and hot dog venues. You can find information about these badges and other social media games at the Explore Chicago site. This collection of Foursquare badges offers an incentive for visitors to wander through Chicago's 77 neighborhoods. In April, Ragan interviewed Sarah Best from the Chicago Office of Tourism and had this to say:
The most valuable statistical information the office keeps track of is the check-ins at individual venues, Best says. [...] "That's been particularly helpful in monitoring growth of check-ins at historical Blues locations that people might not otherwise visit," Best says. "It is less helpful to monitor growth check-ins at well-trafficked locations like Wrigley Field or U.S. Cellular field, where check-ins are less closely tied to participation in our badge experience."
Philadelphia took a similar approach and contracted with SCVNGR to build a game called Find Your Philly, which inspired some of these next bits...
The Washington Redskins have created a Foursquare badge (sponsored by Geico) to reward users for going to home games or "designated" Redskins bars. The motivation, however, is more than just a badge. Users who earn the badge are also entered for a chance to win tickets to a tailgate party and a game in November. What's unclear is what a "designated" Redskins bar might be, so you have to go to the Redskins Foursquare page to see the list (the address of this page is incorrect in the official rules, oddly).
The Redskins may have been influenced by the Minnesota Vikings or New England Patriots, both of whom are using SCVNGR to drum up fan participation (and spending). And these two were influenced by Find Your Philly (see above).
The Patriots created the Help Vince game to track down a missing Super Bowl ring, and even though the "ring" has been found, the game continues so players can still visit the venues references throughout the puzzle. The Vikings leveraged an existing game, "Jared's Journey," and brought it into SCVNGR so players can earn points by solving puzzles, ultimately leading to some team gear as prizes.
The National Post is both one of Canada's national news outlets as well as one of Toronto's local news outlets. In an ongoing effort for old media to stay relevant in new media, National Post is using Foursquare to bring its extensive knowledge to bear. Instead of providing badges throughout the event, users who check in to venues (and follow National Post on Foursquare) throughout the city will:
uncover exclusive tips and recommendations from the Post's Shinan Govani, Amoryn Engel and the rest of our festival team on the best places to eat, drink, shop, glimpse a celebrity and more. There will be new tips added throughout the festival, so there will always be something new to discover, wherever you may go.
National Post explains it in its article, Discover TIFF 2010 with the National Post and Foursquare. The Nieman Journalism Lab takes analysis of this move a bit further in its article, Moviefone 2.0: National Post is using Foursquare to add content and context to the Toronto Film Festival. In this example, the beneficiary of this model isn't so much the venues used for TIFF, but instead National Post as it hopes to demonstrate its expertise and knowledge, and ideally garner loyalty from users who might otherwise get most of their news online, somewhere other than National Post.
The University of Oregon launched The "UO Grand Tour" Game to get new students to partake in their own self-guided campus tours. Students who hit all ten locations on campus on a specific day (September 24) can visit a physical location to get a physical badge — something to actually pin to a shirt, hat, bag, or roomie. Again, going a bit further than simply providing a Foursquare badge, this real-world badge can then be used to get a discount on university sports gear. Ideally, this will get more students to participate in an often underutilized service provided during orientation.
The University of Nebraska at Omaha created a microsite that links to alcohol-free off-campus retailers. By luring students with the potential for discounts, and by luring venues with the potential for more student traffic, there is a chance it may last longer than the usual 15 minutes it takes college students to sniff out a technique to keep them from binge drinking.
These two initiatives are probably influenced by Harvard's own foray into Foursquare back in January. Harvard was the first to take this step and outlines it in a press release on its site: Harvard on foursquare (capitalization, or lack thereof, theirs).
MTV and Foursquare have teamed up to offer a badge that ties into the "GYT: Get Yourself Tested" campaign launched in 2009 in a partnership with the Kaiser Family Foundation. While the rules aren't quite clear yet, users apparently need to check in to a health clinic, and then "shout" (Foursquare parlance for tweet or broadcast) the letters "GYT." Supposedly the badge will then be unlocked. Whether or not their friends understand what the letters mean, people who do this will be entered for a prize trip. This new contest has just launched, so while it's a novel idea, the notion of broadcasting to the world that I felt compelled to get an STD test seems a bit odd. It's an interesting approach, doesn't have any major costs associated with it, and doesn't violate any HIPAA guidelines, so at it's at least worth a shot to cut back on disease transmission. The rules are available on the It's Your Sex Life web site.