Category Archives: Social Media Ain’t Square, It’s Cool


In one of my previous posts “Put The Local in Your Locale” I mentioned a relatively new social network called  I thought it had some real potential but unfortunately they were not in the Kansas City area.  After writing to them about my wish that they be here, my request was granted.  I just received word that along with several other cities, Kansas City is now on the map!

This kind of geo-targeted social network has real potential for those of you marketing to a consumer who is likely to purchase at your location.

Here are some of the features of and then I would like to explore some potential applications to help you determine if it’s right for you.

Members of check-in by logging onto the site from there mobile phone and letting their friends know where they are so they can come to that location. will also offer other locations nearby that may be places of interest to members.  Currently there are applications for IPhones and Android phones with a Blackberry application in the works.  There are also nice links to Twitter and Facebook.

Members have the ability to make recommendations of things to buy or enjoy at certain locations and tracks how many times members frequent a particular location, based on the number of times they check-in.  Points are awarded for check-ins as well as bonus points for dragging friends along with you.  As points accumulate, badges can be unlocked, with the ultimate badge award being classified as a “mayor.”  Businesses can offer “mayors” certain privileges or freebies to entice them to come in as well as encouraging them to bring their network of friends.

Additional applications are being developed by which includes an Inbound Ticketing system and a customer conversation community called “Get Satisfaction.”  For businesses that wish to actively participate there are plans available from $19 to $899 per month depending on reports, tracking, mayor offers and customization that is desired.

Applications for

  • The obvious are restaurants and bars – mayors can be offered free drinks or appetizers once they check-in. Friends of mayors get special recognition. Weekly specials can be promoted through their customized site.
  • Museums – special shows and artists can be promoted and people can join as “friends of the museum.”
  • Sporting Events – not only can the events be promoted but businesses close by can benefit from online promotions to members.
  • Non-profit Fundraising events – what a great way to encourage participation to those members who have a social awareness.  Mayors can receive special recognition by attracting the highest number of friends who also attend.  Companies that belong  to receive some public relations exposure by being associated with a cause.
  • Gyms – hey it’s cool to be working out and even cooler when you can tell your network exactly where you are.
  • Bowling Alleys – Mayors that bring in a whole team can receive free food, drinks or a game.
  • Retail Outlets – clothing boutiques can take on an online personality and promote sales and specials. members can talk about what they like about your place.

These are just a few potential applications.  I’m sure many of you can come up with several of your own.  That’s the beauty of this kind of network, it is really only limited by your imagination.

If you need to drive in-store sales, don’t be square and lose out on a great new marketing tool because is very cool.

Let me know what thoughts you have.



Put the “Local” in Your Locale


Times are definitely tough, despite what Bernanke may say about the recession.  Squeezing the absolute most efficiency out of every marketing dollar spent has never been more important.  More and more lately my conversations with business owners have turned to what tried and true marketing efforts that they always relied upon in the past that are now starting to provide lackluster results at best.  For businesses whose customers come from a geographically local area, this concern comes in the form of, “my Yellow pages and local newspaper ads don’t seem to work anymore.”  These bright entrepreneurs have even dabbled some with Twitter and Facebook but are finding that these social networks are not providing the kind of local targeting that they need.  They’re a bit exasperated as to what to do.

Welcome LBS or Location-based Social Networking.  This is the true marriage of GPS services with traditional forms of social networks thereby giving the added benefit for the people who you are connected with being able to locate where you are at any given time.

The true viral potential of social networks can really come to play in LBS if your business is truly local and relies upon people coming to your location and buying offline.  Once you have become known, the people that like you and visit you tell their friends who want to join in the fun and they tell their friends and so on and so on.  The possibilities are really endless.

Jennifer Van Grove in her article Beyond Yelp: Location-based Opportunities for Vendors, talks about two relatively new LBS based social network sites that are starting to get some real traction, particularly on the coasts.

I decided I would take a look at three social networks: and to get my own take to see what potential there might be for local businesses.  Keep in mind that there are constant suggestions and improvements being made to each of these properties so my opinions may become quickly dated.  I also look at things from a strict marketing potential, not as much from the standpoint of whether I would engage in these on a personal basis.

Yelp is kind of the grand daddy of LBS with a very successful track record.  It is a very robust property and would be appropriate for probably the broadest spectrum of businesses from dentists and doctors, to beauty salons and spas, to bars and restaurants.  Its twist is that users can provide reviews both positive and negative as well as providing lists of places that they frequent.  There are nice ties into Twitter and Facebook and profiles can be customized with pictures and personal information.  Keep in mind that anyone that is added as a friend or any review provided can be seen by anyone in the world, whether they belong to Yelp or not.  The really nice thing about Yelp is the use of interactive maps for locations, much like Google maps.

Foursquare uses the very creative concept of “checking in” once the member arrives at a location, thereby letting their network know where they are.  The unique aspect is the ability to build up check-in points with the ultimate goal of earning the badge of “mayor” of a particular location due to the number of times you visit the place.  For the marketer, this becomes the opportunity to provide free drinks or coupons for any mayor that checks into your shop.  This encourages them to notify their network of where they are.  As with Yelp, there are nice ties into Twitter and Facebook and lots of help for API developers.  There is even an IPhone application.  The drawback here is that Foursquare is not in every city.  As of the writing of this post I requested information as to when they would be in Kansas City.

Of the three, I felt like Brightkite has the farthest to go.  Yes it connects people locally and it is location based and yes it has nice ties into Twitter and Facebook, but I just couldn’t see the “thing” it brings.  What makes Brightkite special?  One distinct advantage over Foursquare is that Brightkite is available in more locations.

With all of these properties I would advise getting into them and experimenting some.  Perhaps with another post, I can talk about ways in which a business would promote themselves, to get better visibility on these LBS networks.

The bottom line is that many many people are using the smart phones to find friends, places to eat, recommendations for good doctors and places to shop and they want them to be local and findable.

Is your locale local?  If it is, then you need to understand location-based social networking.

All my best,


Social Media: It’s Written in Concrete


Remember when you were a kid and some neighbor was pouring a new concrete driveway, or the city was putting in some new sidewalks and what would happen next?  Yea, you can admit it: the temptation to go write your name in the wet cement overcame you and you grabbed the nearest stick and went to work creating something beautiful and yes, permanent.

There is a growing societal change that is taking place in our world.  Years ago, if you were caught stealing candy, breaking street lights, or teepeeing someone’s trees, you may be in trouble at the time, but you sure didn’t have to worry about potential employers doing a background search and discovering that you had participated in these acts.

I wonder how good a job we adults are doing at making sure young people understand that what they put onto Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and MySpace is something that may resurface twenty years from now, when they’re trying to land that next great job.  And maybe even if we tried, they wouldn’t listen.  We are all aware of some of the even dangerous activities taking place like “sexting.”

According to The Benenson Strategy Group’s latest research results, parents have a long ways to go toward truly understanding their children’s on-line behaviors.  Their interesting study results can be found at:

What do you think we as a society should do with this new found information?  If you thought it was hard to run for political office now days, just think how easy it’s going to be to find those closet skeletons in years to come.  It won’t work to say, “I smoked but did not inhale,” because it will be on video somewhere.

Do you think in the future that these “youthful indiscretions” will be written off as just what they are?  Will it be possible for our society to sustain the strict rules of former conduct that we have in place today?  Is the permanence of social networks and the information they contain something we can learn to forgive?

I’d love to know your thoughts.



Social Media: I’m Gonna Blow Your Doors Off?


I just love the mental picture I get when I hear the phrase, “blow your doors off.”  It takes me back to when I was a kid, reading my first Hot Rod magazine and seeing those shiny dragsters with the big scoops sticking out of the hood, smoke pouring off the oversized spinning tires and flames belching from the chrome exhaust pipes.  It was what was on my mind when getting ready to race a friend on my gold-flaked Schwinn bicycle with high-rise handle bars, slick rear tire and a banana seat. And out of my mouth came the threat, “I’m gonna blow your doors off.”

You’re probably saying, “wow, you’re really competitive, and what does this have to do with marketing?”

Yes, I am competitive but that’s not the point here.  I talk to a lot of business owners of companies large and small, and from a number of industries.  Inevitably, the conversation will work its way toward what everyone seems to be talking about now, social media.  And even though there are major brands who have embraced social media like Dell, Star Bucks and Dominoes Pizza, many of these business owners will say to me, “David, I just don’t get how it will work for my business.”

Just so we’re straight, whether correct or not, I lump many things into my definition of social media to include:

  • Social networks like Facebook and My Space
  • Micro blogging sites like Twitter
  • Bookmarking and blog rating services such as, Digg, Stumble Upon and Technorati
  • Picture and video platforms like You Tube and Flickr
  • Business networks like Linked In, Plaxo and Naymz and their groups and associations that provide for the ability to ask and answer industry specific questions.
  • And finally, Blogging and blog sites (and I suppose newsletters could also be included here)

There is not doubt that social media is getting a great deal of hype right now.  This may cause people to believe that it is a passing fad that will soon become stale.

Most experts agree that social media has so dramatically transformed our world’s society that we can never really go without it.  In fact, in his article, “How Social Media May Save The World,” Danny Dover talks of its ability to stop pandemics.  Read his entire article at:

Beyond these lofty claims, active participation in social media has a proven basis in sound marketing practices in addition to strong customer service attributes.  Jeff Bullas, in his blog post, provides 8 reasons why this is true.

Everyone should be aware that social media is not free, even though there is no cost to become involved.  It does take time and a carefully thought out strategy for what you want to accomplish and a time-table for when you would expect to see results.  Don’t anticipate a quick payoff, as it does take time.  But make no mistake, social media is here to stay and you can choose to ignore it or you can start to take an active role.  If you choose not to participate, just know that your competition will and they’ll be saying to you, “we’re gonna blow your doors off.”

All my best,


Oh You Social Butterfly, You!


I guess maybe I’m showing my age when I use the term “social butterfly.”  I haven’t heard it used in a while.  We all know one, that person that shows up to a party or a networking event and spends the entire time flitting about, from person to person (or flower to flower), landing very lightly, then moving along without staying long.  Although beautiful to watch, it is hard to put into words the impression left by the butterfly, they are there for such a brief period of time. With the social butterfly we find it difficult to recall much about them, other than they were there.

We are all in the business of branding, whether we represent a company we work for or own, or whether we are branding ourselves.  As such, when using social media as a form of brand awareness and marketing, one can get into a lot of trouble if not paying close attention to online “social graces.”  As Kendal Allen puts it, “a lot of damage can be amassed to a brand over time; the idea of death by 1,000 cuts comes to mind.” See his entire article at:

And if you’re not using social media like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Digg or any one of a number of other social/community based sites, then you are missing out on major venues with which you can nurture and improve your brand.  There is a catch though.

I brought up the analogy of the butterfly to illustrate a personal observation I have made experiencing what some social marketers (and microbloggers) do with their comments.  I find that I have favorites that I always read; people whose blogs or comments are especially helpful or thought provoking, or who I even find humorous and therefore I bookmark them, share them, subscribe to them or request their RSS feeds.  Seth Godin is a good example.  It is these people who in my mind have established a brand awareness, an image that is positive and one that is easy for me to recall.  These are people I would purchase from.

On the other end of the spectrum are those who don’t really have much to say; all of their comments centering around what small event is taking place in their lives, or who is making them mad or just general bitching.  I’ve even read comments that made no sense at all.  Joel Comm in his book “Twitter Power” encourages the use of tweets that aren’t always about marketing yourself and your brand and are more an effort to show yourself a real and genuine person, a human being with concerns, wants and desires.  And I couldn’t agree more.

I believe that it is variety that adds spice to life.  Social commentary should reflect this variety by containing a rich mixture of personal anecdotes, observations, references and valuable information.  I believe that by providing value, be it new information, a provocative thought, quotes from bright people or even a good recipe, you can go a long way towards building a brand that people will remember.  Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, not only promotes his company but also builds a personal brand through the tweets he sends.  It is possible to have your own personal style and solid marketing principals at the same time.

Brands try to increase awareness and considerations to purchase, hopefully resulting in a sale.  But the social butterfly, whose impression with us is barely memorable, cannot possibly build much awareness.  They are here and then gone.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.