Advertising on Foursquare

by Hareesh Tibrewala on April 7, 2014

It’s been 5 years since its inception, and 45 million users and 60 million registered venues later, FourSquare is now not just another social app. It has become one of the platforms that marketers of local businesses can’t avoid from their social media portfolio.  In India too we are seeing rapid growth in the number of people actively using FourSquare and the number of destinations present on FourSquare.  Next time you sit down to order a meal in a restaurant, just check out its FourSquare presence and you may be pleasantly surprised to see some interesting recommendations from the restaurant menu, from a friend of your who has visited that restaurant earlier.

In October 2013, FourSquare launched advertising options for brands who wish to promote themselves on FourSquare This opened up a whole new avenue for location based businesses to target absolutely relevant customers for its business. Millions of people use FourSquare to decide where to go next. This is where FourSquare ads come in. Businesses can use FourSquare ads to reach out to these potential customers. The ads help connect with the right people at the right time. Customers are targeted based on whether the person is near your business and if they are likely to become your customer. FourSquare decides that they are likely to become a customer based on whether the person has checked into similar businesses elsewhere. When a user searches for a place to go, your ad will appear as a promoted link on the search list. The ad will also appear on the front screen of users who have visited places similar to yours in the past. The ads will not be shown to users who are already at your business.

FourSquare advertising works on a pay-per-action kind of model (similar to Google CPC). You don’t pay for impressions. You pay for actions. In our own experience we have seen cost per action to be in the range of $1.00 to $1.50, but this number will clearly vary from brand to brand and also type of targeting. The advertising interface and targeting options are in a primitive stage right now, but as social networks start focusing on monetization, both of these should improve.


The DNA of Social Media?

by sanjay on March 20, 2014

Few days back, there was an interesting conversation at a panel discussion that I was a part of.

The question being debated was about e-commerce companies getting social media better than brick and mortar ones, because “digital was in their DNA”.

Image courtesy: Image courtesy:

And yes, the general consensus was that e-commerce brands do get digital media and social media, just a shade better, on account of the fact that they get digital more intuitively, and hence understand analytics a lot better, get the A/B split concepts, understand the CPM ideas, get remarketing and such innovations, etc. All of these are things that traditional marketers have to first comprehend, and then try to use. Which is always a bigger challenge.

For the record, the counter argument was that, especially where retail sector goes, a good brick and mortar retailer would also get analytics absolutely well (and Walmart is the classic example) and should they desire to make the transition to digital, they could do so, whether it is via a build or a buy route. Walmart for example, has what they call WalmartLabs, which is built around several key acquisitions, including Kosmix (founded by same founders who created, which was acquired by Amazon!).  So, while digital may not have been in Walmart DNA, they are acquiring and creating a separate entity, WalmartLabs that could potentially have that DNA, and which is so necessary to manage in current times.

But what is this whole DNA bit, and how does it make a difference? Especially when we think of social media DNA?

To understand this, let us consider the two key business functions that have embraced social media, so far, viz. Marketing (and Sales) and Customer Service.

Now, when we think of the traditional marketer (one who doesn’t have the social media DNA!), he has always focused on aspects like reach, demography, marketing communications, taking the message to the audience, essentially ensuring brand recall, and trying to be in consideration set for the TG.

So when this marketer tries to get into social media, she is happy to get reach – which also translates to Facebook likes, impressions, video views, etc. And these are the metrics that many chase today. And which is also the reason why we see the largest social media spends happening in actual media buys – be it on Facebook or Twitter or YouTube or LinkedIn. Most of these are largely about reach and impressions and getting the brand visibility and getting your brand message out.

Now if you consider the marketer who has a social media DNA. How would she think differently, in the same circumstances?

She realizes that today’s purchase journey is not just about getting into the consideration set, and then about point of sale. There are areas in between, and thereafter as well.

For example, there is the critical “evaluation phase” where the consumer is going out, talking to people, seeking opinions, reading reviews, asking questions, looking to make the most informed decision. And this is where brands can come in or go out of the original consideration set. And this entire phase has a very large component of social media element in it.

Likewise, where a traditional marketer would consider her job done, once she has led the consumer to the purchase, the marketer with social media DNA recognizes also that the consumer journey continues beyond purchase point as well! In today’s world, the consumer keeps sharing the experience, post-purchase. Be it the purchase experience itself, or the experience of using the product. And this is very crucial phase, as it influences repeat purchases and influences others on their purchase journey.

The marketer with the social media DNA will participate actively in social media listening, and engagement, when the consumer is going through the evaluation phase, and also in the post-purchase journey. The traditional marketer may not even realize that she is missing something by staying away.

Let’s look at customer service, similarly.

Traditional customer service engagements are one-on-one between a consumer and the company. In the case of a large consumer base, each such conversation is one out of thousands, and the brand may be only that much concerned about the impact it creates with the said consumer. Which means, it is okay for the traditional customer service executive to say that we are closed after 6 pm, and you can reach us the next day. Or after receiving the complaint, telling the customer that it will take 7-10 days to respond, and sometimes taking even longer. A certain casual approach, a certain buying-time kind of response. And this could happen in a face-to-face situation or on a call or over email. That does not matter. Simply that it is a one-on-one with the customer, and can be taken at a pace that is convenient to the company, is the way, the traditional customer service manager may think.

In the world of social media though, things are different. There is recognition today, that the world is alive and awake on a 24×7 basis. A lot of product usage or service utilization happens at any odd time of the day or night. And which is when the customer may hit a problem, and would want to seek help from the company. Customers are themselves working all kinds of hours, and may not find it convenient to visit customer service departments during the middle of the day, or call at certain specific hours only. And these customers are also active on social media, and often desirous of talking to the company, on social media platforms. Even when the conversation itself is not happening on social media, there is every chance that an offline interaction with the company can land up on social media. A camera that was on and quietly recording, when the customer service executive was arguing with the customer. Or a  rude customer service telephonic conversation that was getting recorded on the customer’s phone. Or a politically incorrect email sent by the company, which can be copied and reused.

Such indiscretions by customer service teams could easily land up on social media, and potentially viral, causing immense damage to the company.

And yet, many a traditionally oriented customer service teams, still prefer to handle customer service the old way. Ignoring social media. Or keeping “9 to 5” kind of hours on social media customer service. Or taking their own sweet time to respond on social media, like they did in traditional customer service areas.

When the social media DNA comes in, there is a deeper understanding of the challenges and a different mindset of response, a different organisation build, a more involved social media response process created.

It does not matter if a company can in-source its social media efforts, be it for marketing or customer service or any other functions. However, if the legacy DNA is going to dominate and drive decisions and approach, it will not help the brand derive real benefits out of the media, and in fact, keep the brand at risk.

Outsourcing social media to someone who gets it at a DNA level, or creating a completely new and independent unit (like Walmart did) that gets social media differently, from legacy thought, are possible solutions.


Twitter Launches Custom Audience

March 12, 2014

Till now, Twitter has allowed brands do to keyword targeting for their ad messages. This meant that a brand could run ads on Twitter by targeting keywords that were being used by a Twitter user in his Tweets. Alternatively one could target followers of another brand who could be potential followers for the advertiser’s brand.  [...]

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What are Facebook Trending Topics? And how is it different from Twitter Trends?

March 12, 2014

Facebook has recently launched a new feature “Facebook Trends”. Facebook trends, like Twitter trends, shows all those popular topics that people are  sharing publicly on their timelines. These can be hashtags, links or just topics that are being spoken about. Facebook trending is still in a test phase and is not universally available. According to [...]

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Why should your agency adopt an ‘Open Door’ policy?

March 5, 2014

You work in a very fast paced agency environment. Your digitally savvy clients are constantly on fire and want solutions to everything immediately. Real-time is the need of the hour. Multiple things are happening at the same time and suddenly, someone has sent out a nasty tweet to your brand. You need a solution to [...]

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Page to Page Tagging on Facebook: Open to Misuse??

February 27, 2014

Facebook has recently come up with a new feature where pages can tag each other on posts and updates, but this new development is mired with difficulties as it might pave a way for possible abuse and exploitation. Marketers (spammers?) will find a way to exploit (abuse?) any opportunity given half a chance. Let’s take [...]

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Why did Facebook acquire WhatsApp for $19 billion? And what happens now??

February 19, 2014

This has happened before. You wake up in India, and you discover that the world changed, while you slept. The Berlin wall going down, Osama Bin Laden taken out, Instagram acquired by Facebook for a staggering $1 bn….and today, a much bigger $19 bn acquisition of red-hot Smartphone messaging service provider WhatsApp by Facebook!   [...]

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Facebook #LookBack

February 18, 2014

It was Facebook’s 10thbirthday and though we did not get an invite for the party, all of us received the return gift – ‘Facebook #LookBack’, an initiative that let fans relive their special moments on the platform in a video! Within days of launching the app, it went viral. My timeline was flooded with movies [...]

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What brands got spoken about the most at the Auto-Expo 2014?

February 17, 2014

Social Wavelength has put together a monitoring report on the 12th annual Auto-Expo 2014 held in New Delhi from 6th to 9th February. Here’s a quick glimpse at what brands and models among the new launches got spoken about the most at the Auto-Expo 2014. Team Social Wavelength @socwav

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The Challenges for Twitter: why TWTR lost 25% of market cap even after reporting record revenues?

February 10, 2014

Twitter had their first quarterly earnings report after their IPO and came out with strong revenues of $243 mn for Q4, beating the analysts’ estimates of $218 mn. And yet the stock tanked on the markets and Twitter (TWTR) lost a quarter of their market cap or close to $10 bn in value, after the [...]

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