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Posts Tagged ‘Geolocation’

Fixing Foursquare

September 23, 2010 2 comments

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Over the summer, my friends and I loved using Foursquare. When we started checking-in, it was so fun to unlock badges and claim mayorships. It was a game that we played against each other. On very rare occasions, we actually received special treatment for being mayors and using the location-based service. It was super fun. But it’s not so fun anymore.

There’s a plateau. If you’re in a city like Madison, Wisconsin, there are only so many rewards you can get and so many things to do. Once you unlock these 10 or so badges, you can’t go any further. Location-based social media needs to evolve past mayorships to fight off Foursquare fatigue.

Go Local

It’ time for Foursquare to become more localized. They’re heading in the right direction with Foursquare for Universities, which was just launched last week. Essentially, Foursquare is selecting ambassadors to create a more personal, local connection with the college towns. This could be used in so many cool ways. It’s already being used for university tours, which helps smartphone clutching freshmen navigate a new campus (kids these days….).

Schools are able to create specialized badges for different campus hot-spots. I bet that students will love this. Anyone from Madison would appreciate getting a “Badger Badge” for attending a certain amount of UW sporting events, for example. Increasing the relevancy of badges for each University would keep college kids (and the adults that hang out on campus) more interested.

Even in the suburbs, there are interesting, badge-worthy things to do. I currently live within biking distance of the Minnesota Zoo, for example….it’s easy enough to make an “In the Wild” badge. The point is this: the more personal and specialized Foursquare feels to the user, the more a person is likely to use it.

Beyond Mayorships

It’s time to look beyond specials for just the mayor. Foursquare 2.0 for the iPhone was released this week, and it emphasizes the “Tips” and “To-Do” sections of the app. On the old interface, the hope was that people would leave friendly tips and comments about the place. Foursquare 2.0 also allows you to find to-do’s on the internet and add them to your Foursquare account as a reminder to go to that place or accomplish that to-do. Here, the possibilities for use are endless.

Businesses can create Tips/To-Dos that entice a patron to do something in exchange for a deal. Think about how word-of-mouth would spread if someone had to do a dance in the middle of a restaurant for a free meal, or you received a free appetizer if you brought in a crowd of 10. It will be cool to read a positive restaurant review online and then be able to “tag” that place, so you know where to go. Or, a business could put the “Add this to Foursquare” button on their website and create quick, mobile coupons. The “Add to Foursquare” button could be a really great tool for businesses to increase new visits and return customers.

Quick ideas

There are a ton of other things Foursquare can do to make sure its service stays fun and relevant to users. Here’s a quick list of ideas I’m stealing from other LBS services that would heighten the Foursquare experience:

  • Like Facebook Places, integrate other information about the venue. Link directly to the place’s webpage, put reviews up, and tie in the venue’s social media, if applicable.
  • Like SCVNGR, integrate “games” and “tasks.” Create scavenger hunts and other fun things to do. Give the user an incentive (even if it is just “fun”) to continue to use the service.
  • Allow users to pin photographs to the places.
  • Continue to partner with businesses, and work with group-buying companies like Groupon.
  • Foursquare is beginning to recommend places to go to. This one is a little touchy because people don’t like being told what to do, but imagine how useful this could be to travelers or people moving to new cities.

So, what does the future look like?

Like I said in a previous post, the possibilities for Foursquare are really endless. What we’re continuing to see in today’s world is a shift to a cross-platform experience; something you do or look at on the internet can be transferred seamlessly to your mobile phone. This is what Foursquare 2.0 is doing with its “Add this to Foursquare” buttons. It will be really cool to see how technology like this continues to grow in the future to create a better experience for consumers.

As location-based social media continues to become more mainstream and the options for which service to use become more numerous, Foursquare is going to have to continue to evolve in order to cater to the users’ needs. Hopefully, Foursquare and other services like it keep listening to what the consumers want so that location-based social media is still fun and relevant. I’ll keep checking-in as long as it remains fun and I get something out of it.

Tired of Foursquare too? How else could they keep it fun?

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Mobile Technology is Going to Rock Our World

August 19, 2010 2 comments

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Life is increasingly mobile. My entire life is connected to a tiny rectangle in my pocket. I’m always “on” and connected to Twitter, Facebook, email, and a slew of other useful apps. Smartphones are projected to account for over half of the US cell phone market in 2011. The number of tablets and iPads is steadily increasing too. For the first time ever, e-books are outselling hardcover versions. This trend has incredible implications for the future of, well, everything. This post is an awesome wake-up call to everyone who is stuck talking about social media when mobile is truly the future. Mobile technology is going to change how we think about the world and interact with it. In short, the future is mobile.

Advertising On-The-Go

We’ll soon be getting ads sent directly to our mobile devices based on our location. Recently, this article highlighted the partnership between two companies that allows brands to send you SMS (text) ads, as long as you opt in. This means that even if you don’t have a smartphone yet, you can still join in on the fun. You only get the ads when you are around certain “geo-fences” that the stores set up (hence the location aspect). This sounds horrendously intrusive, but fear not: these ads are opt-in. You have to choose to receive the ads. Mobile advertising is going to be a hit because it allows for targeted messages that are more relevant to the consumer than the giant blasts sent out over the TV or radio.

Foursquare and other location-based services also provide you with special promotions based upon where you visit. I’ve talked about that before, so go ahead and check that out. While I’m not too hot on Facebook Places right yet, I will admit that it is a very powerful tool for businesses. Imagine having Foursquare, Yelp, and Facebook Fan pages all integrated together. Businesses will be able to have reviews, pictures, coupons, check-in information, and its own information all on one page that is accessible on-the-go.

You control when and where you want to access content

Technology is increasingly able to fit content around your schedule instead of content dictating it. “Timeshifting now” is a phrase I heard Faris Yakob use, and it’s an interesting concept. Timeshifting already has changed how we watch TV, and over half of the US has timeshifted a TV show. Now extend this idea to your phone or other mobile device; you can choose to watch content (on Hulu, on Youtube, etc) on your phone whenever you want. I can’t explain it as well as him, and I might have misinterpreted the idea, but the concept led me to another conclusion:  You’re able to control when and where you want to access media because your mobile device is stuck in a constant present tense defined as your “now.” When something is being broadcast and where you are during this broadcast no longer matters (save for some events like the Superbowl, awards shows, that sort of stuff). Mobile devices allow you to timeshift content to your “now” instead of dictating when your “now” is. Watch the video on the link. You’ll be smarter because of it.

Content is going to become more and more interactive

Here’s where everything gets really interesting. Imagine what a school armed with iPads would be like. All content would be up-to-date, textbooks would be interactive, and kids wouldn’t have to lug around 30-lb backpacks. Kids would want to learn if they could click on a video and watch it, or if they could learn a subject through an interactive game right on their iPad.  They would also learn to interact with the digital world at an early age, something that will be enormously beneficial in the future. If colleges embraced digital textbooks, the books would be a LOT less expensive than purchasing hardcovers; anyone who went to college knows how expensive books are. (this iPad-as-textbook idea came from a brief Twitter conversation with Olivier Blanchard. He has a lot of great ideas).

Imagine what a hospital would be like with the interactive capabilities of new mobile technology. Doctors wouldn’t have to worry about losing papers and every patient’s information could be transferred instantly between doctors and hospitals. Mobile technology will bring forth a revolution in nearly every industry, from education to healthcare to media and everywhere in between.

Mobile will change how we talk to each other and how we pay for things

I’m not going to touch on this very much, because we all know about mobile social interaction. We text a lot. Teens 12-17 use texting as their main mode of communication; they text more than they send email, call on the phone, or have face-to-face conversations. We have been able to connect with our online social networks via mobile device for a few years now. This isn’t really new, but this mobile social interaction will certainly grow with the number of smartphones being used. Mobile technology is definitely changing the way we interact with our social networks.

Mobile technology is going to change the way we pay for things too. PayPal has an app out that allows you to “bump” phones to complete a transaction. Soon, we could be paying with our phones like we do with credit cards and cash. This idea, while still in its infancy, could turn smartphones into wallets. Obviously, there are many issues that need to be worked out, but I definitely see this concept becoming a reality in the future.

So here we are, in the brave new world of mobile. It’s a technology that will cause a permanent shift in the way we interact with the rest of the world. Mobile is a technological advance that is probably the most important thing since the internet, and I can’t wait to see what happens with it in the future.

What do you think? Is mobile really as important as I think? What other mobile technology is going to freak the world out? Leave your ideas in the comments.

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