Opinions And Ramblings By Adam Kmiec On All Things

Tag Archives: FourSquare

Friday Five – February 7, 2014

Johnson & Johnson Takes Newspaper Readers Back With Ads That Smell Like Baby Powder
Print advertising doesn’t have to be boring. It can be fun, interesting and multi-sensory. I love how Johnson & Johnson took a relatively predictable ad channel, like print, and turned it into something you’re intrigued to interact with.

This just in: Paper is the best Facebook app ever
I think the Facebook team has been really smart in how they’ve approached mobile. By building stand alone apps that run outside of the core Facebook app experience, they can test different designs, features and approaches, without messing with the core experience. Then, after they’ve learned enough, they fold the best features into the base/core app. This allows them to innovate and improve quickly. It’s smart. It’s also why I like Paper. The other reason I like Paper is how simple, intuitive and fun the interface is. Definitely worth the time to download.

Foursquare Gets $15M And Licensing Deal From Microsoft To Power Location Context For Windows And Mobile
I guess all that Foursquare data must be worth something? Good move by Microsoft and another validation that Foursquare’s stubbornness to sell or change strategy, is going win, long term.

Arby’s Social Media Manager Gives Inside Scoop On Tweet To Pharrell That Rocked The Grammys
Sometimes being lucky is better than being good. But, when preparation meets lucky/opportunity, you get something truly outstanding. I love this article from Arby’s social lead on how they quickly took advantage of Pharrell’s strange hat choice during the Grammy’s. Three things really stuck out. First, there was no warm room or command center. Sometimes simple, wins. Second, they were prepared and clearly didn’t have 100s of layers of approval to work through. Third, I loved this quote “Our CMO has created an environment for our team to have freedom and flexibility.” It’s nearly exactly what I said in predicting why most Super Bowl Real Time Marketing Efforts would fail: “Fast doesn’t come from committee. It doesn’t come from running every single tweet by the brand team, legal team, corporate communications team, media team and so on. Fast comes from trust.” Kudos to their organization and to Josh Martin for being prepared, on brand and fast.

Hashtags win in Super Bowl ads, and Facebook gets even with Twitter
The game was a snoozer. The ads were hit and miss. But, one thing that was clear, social integration is here to stay for a while. 58% of Super Bowl ads integrated hashtags into their commercials. Some did it really well. Some just tacked it on at the end. The 58% number shows us that more and more brands are trying to solve for the multi-screen use of their consumers.

Walgreens And foursquare Make It Simple To Check In And Save

Check In, Scan and Save…Amazing!

In keeping with our concept of Return On Amazing, I’m excited and proud that today for the first time EVER when you check in at a Walgreens on foursquare, you’ll receive a scannable coupon for Arizona Iced Tea, directly in the check in. That’s right. 1 step. 1 click. No text to get a coupon. No print out an offer. No show the check in deal to the cashier. Nope, just check in, scan and pay. In the past a “coupon” or monetary value associated with a check-in involved a few extra steps. Not anymore.

So, what does the first time ever mean? Well, for starters, never before have you been able to do this in foursquare. As of today, we are the first and only retailer that foursquare is working with to bring instant coupons to check ins. It also goes without saying that this is the first time Walgreens has ever delivered an instant coupon via check ins.

Walgreens Arizona Iced Tea foursquare Coupon Deal

This is just another way Walgreens is making it rewarding to check in. From flu shot donations to free movies from redbox to Arizona Iced Tea Coupons, we’re looking to make check ins more meaningful.

This is also yet another example of how we’re innovating and investing in mobile. If you’re keeping track, these are all the things we’ve done in the past 6 months

  1. Offers included directly in our award winning Walgreens app
  2. Offers available through SMS
  3. Traditional foursquare check in offers/deals
  4. Tap and pay with Google wallet

Being first is hard. It’s also incredibly fun and insanely rewarding. At Walgreens a big part of our social media strategy is the concept of Return on Amazing. Don’t laugh. Yes, we made it up. But, we needed a way to articulate the concept that big, audacious, bold and amazing ideas are how you win.

Return on Amazing is a way to set the bar for our thinking. It means you need to think beyond the “like.” You need to think beyond the click stream of a “wall post.” Why? Because thinking in such a micro way, is a recipe for short term success…at best. But, ideas that qualify as amazing are often legitimate game changers. And game changers are long term business drivers.

I can’t take all the credit for this major initiative. We pitched this concept to foursquare several months ago. They loved the idea, but at the time it wasn’t on their immediate road map. But, our Return on Amazing philosophy and commitment to speed and innovation were key factors in having them re-prioritize this idea. Over the past 11 months we’ve proven to them that we are committed to innovation and are a partner they could rely on. The same could be said about how we feel about foursquare. Together we’ve brought some truly amazing programs to market.

Once this idea became a real concept, our social and Emerging Media team made sure the experience was simple, safe and secure. All we needed at that point was the right partner and that’s where Arizona came in. They moved as quick as we were and as quick as foursquare was. And in retail, that’s VERY fast. Kudos to the Arizona team for being able to move that quickly and investing in an idea that had never been done before.

As an old mentor of mine coached me, speed wins. In this case, that maxim was a major reason why we were able to be the first and only company to offer real time seamless check in deals. Give it a try. I’d love your thoughts on this initiative and how it compliments everything else we’re doing at the intersection of local, mobile and social.

Needless to say, this is going to be the first of potentially many future initiatives where we’re looking to find that perfect intersection of Social, Mobile and Local marketing to provide value and a fantastic user experience.

The Hype Of LoSoMo

For about the last 5 or 7 years we’ve been teased with the concept that “this” was the year of mobile. I heard it in 2005, heard it a lot in 2009 and couldn’t dodge it in 2011. I think it’s safe to say that in 2012 mobile is here.

With Social Media activities dominating people’s time online; these days it’s more than 20% of internet usage, we certainly would all agree that social media is here to stay and will continue to become bigger.

And, the emphasis on local is unquestioned. You need only look at the investments by companies like Google, Apple and AOL to know that local is more relevant now that it was even pre-internet. We want local news, deals and information about things to do. It’s not that we don’t care about the national scene, it’s that local has become increasingly relevant with the instantaneous nature of the web. Like, love, hate, question or shun Groupon, you can’t disagree with how smart their Groupon Now concept is.  That’s local. That’s often mobile. And that’s relevant.

As marketers we love to create new buzz words or marketing “handles” that shape a conversation or drive toward a common vision. Last year, was the first time I remember hearing LoSoMo. It was heralded as the holy grail of marketing opportunity. You had local, social and mobile all theoretically intersecting to provide opportunity for marketers and value for customers. It’s the classic marketing win-win!

In 2009 I wrote two posts about the intersection of local and mobile. The first was titled, It’s Not Who You Are – It’s Where You Are.  This post focused on the opportunity mobile and local provided. It eliminated, on some level, the concept of demographics, because you could market based on proximity instead of a traditional funnel model that started with a broad audience.  If you will, this was LoMo.  A few weeks later I wrote a post titled, It’s Now About Where You Are – It’s About Who You’re With. In that post, I wrote:

Where our friends are can impact where we work, where we eat lunch, the gym we belong to, and yes the social communities we join.

Think about it. Experiences are amplified when they’re shared. But, I don’t mean sharing in the way we’ve used sharing these days.  The kind of sharing, where you saw something, so you “share” it on social networks. No, I mean eating dinner with your mom or attending a live concert with your best friend…hearing that one song and both of you geeking off of the energy.  That’s the real sharing I’m talking about. That’s LoSo.

Take a second and think about the last time you had a truly Local, Social AND Mobile experience.  Still scratching your head? Good. This is the problem with the LoSoMo concept. Platforms like foursquare, which I LOVE, were heralded as the perfect example of how to integrate Local, Social and Mobile.  But, does foursquare and its brethren really do that?  Think about a foursquare experience:

  1. Open up the app
  2. Choose check-in
  3. Find the location you’re already at
  4. Maybe see who’s already there, what deal is available, who’s been there, or what tips are available
  5. Check-in
  6. Earn a deal
  7. Redeem deal
  8. Share that you just scored a deal

On the surfact it looks like the perfect ven diagram of LoSoMo, but dig a little deeper. It’s actually, at best, a 2-stage process of LoMo and MoSo.  Steps 1 – 3 and 5 – 7 are all LoMo. There’s nothing social about those activities. Step 8 is definitely MoSo; you’re sharing information with your “friends” via a mobile platform. It’s local to you, but not local to them.  The only step, you could argue that fits the criteria for LoSoMo is step 4.  But, step 4 only becomes LoSoMo IF your friends had been to the location before, had left a tip that impact your decision OR by chance they were already checked in which is why you chose the location. But, think about this for a second. How likely is that?

So sure, LoSoMo could happen, but it’s a small small small opportunity, because our natural behavior isn’t LoSoMo oriented.  Our natural behavior is LoMo or MoSo. It’s just simply rare that you get all 3 to happen. Not because it isn’t possible, but because it doesn’t fit how we normally interact.  As marketers, we’re desperate to innovate. We’re desperate to reinvent. We’re desperate to come up with a new model that fits the opportunity we believe exists.  But, doesn’t that make us poor marketers? Shouldn’t we be looking for the opportunity instead of trying to force it to happen?

Just so you don’t think this is all conjecture, I want you to consider 3 things:

1. There are serious privacy concerns and questions being asked by the Government and Users. Facebook, the largest social network out there has re-dedicated themselves to privacy. That means this concept of “frictionless” sharing that Zuckerberg wants to see, becomes tougher to execute. But, you need a comfort level with privacy to realize the possibility of LoSoMo. Not just a comfort level from the end user, but a comfort level from the platform creators. If you’re a platform creator and erring to far on the side of “frictionless” sharing, you’ll draw the attention of the government.

2. Take on a little bit of Me-Search. How many LoSoMo interactions have you actually participated in, in the last 30 days. Be honest with yourself.

3. We’re seeing a major shift towards smaller, less open, more private social networks and concepts. Look at Google+, Path and Oink. The concept of open and everyone is dying. Users want control and they are taking control back with the help of platforms who understand this trend.

I see a world, in a few years, where LoSoMo becomes a real opportunity. But, it’s going to take better infrastructure (eg 4G, enhanced POS), greater comfort with privacy or lack there of, platforms that work at scale and continued adoption of social behavior.  The hype of LoSoMo is simply not ready to be realized.

Check Ins That Make A Difference

Yesterday we launched an exciting social program to support of our Walgreens Flu Season campaign.  Every time you check in to a Walgreens location on foursquare or Facebook Places, Walgreens will donate 1 flu voucher, up to 200,000, to someone in need.  That’s right, it’s that simple. You check in.  We donate a flu voucher.

But, what does someone in need mean?  Well, we’ve partnered with 5 great charities:

  1. AmeriCares
  2. American Diabetes Association
  3. National Urban League
  4. Feeding America
  5. League of United Latin American Citizens

Our fans on Facebook, by way of voting, will determine what percentage of the 200,000 flu vouchers each charity receives.

For those of you who like the nitty gritty details, this is how the voting mechanics work:

Walgreens is providing 20,000 vouchers for $10 flu shots as a base donation to each participating organization for distribution to qualified individuals. So right off the bat, every charity is being rewarded equally.

But, then, each organization will receive an incremental allocation of flu shot vouchers, which will be determined by the total number of votes received. Distribution among organizations will be as follows:

  • Top vote-getter – 30 percent
  • Second place – 25 percent
  • Third place – 20 percent
  • Fourth place – 15 percent
  • Fifth place – 10 percent

There’s a lot to love about this program, but my favorite aspect is that it gives our customers 2 distinct ways to participate:

  1. Check in to fill the bucket
  2. Vote to determine how the bucket is shared
There was a lot of hard work and great thinking that brought this to program to life.  foursquare, continues to be a great partner.  Their support has been strong and consistent.  Our team at Digitas cranked on all the creative, including the development of the voting engine.  Lastly, the internal team at Walgreens stayed committed to the idea…even when we hit some large and wide brick walls.

It takes a village sometimes to make amazing programs like this a reality.  As I’ve mentioned in the past, Social at Walgreens need to deliver a return on investment AND a return on amazing.  This program, like the national redbox initiative we launched a few weeks ago, delivers on both.

Facebook Places Is Dead, But Facebook’s Bet On Location Is Alive

I won’t regurgitate what Techcrunch, Mashable and so many others had to say yesterday about Facebook’s announcement.  They were all great write-ups and I would suggest reading their fine analysis and points of view.

In short, foursquare won the check-in game. They beat Gowalla, Loopt, Google Places, Yelp! and of course the 700 million pound Gorilla, Facebook. This doesn’t surprise me. As I wrote a few weeks ago, foursquare understands Social For The Enterprise.  When you understand that aspect of social, you’ll get major organizations like Amex, Pepsi, Starbucks, Starwood and of course Walgreens to play ball with your platform.  What I mean by play ball, is that organizations are investing in foursquare, integrating into their campaigns and products, and in some cases making them the preferred partner to help drive their social and business strategy.

Ok, so now that we’ve officially proclaimed foursquare the king of check-ins, let me also say this:

The entire check-in concept and model is only 1 part of location based social marketing.  It’s a critical part, but to think that check-ins are in fact the answer to bringing social to the local level is to misunderstand consumer behavior.

The key here is consumer behavior.  Check-ins are a way of saying, “Hi, I’m here AND this is what I’m doing.”  There’s nothing wrong with that behavior.  foursquare has mastered how to make this behavior simple, fun and rewarding.

But, Facebook, though abandoning check-ins is showing that they understand the other end of the spectrum when it comes to the role that locations play in social media.  Check-ins are a forced behavior…they are.  And for that reason they appeal to a more limited audience.  Granted, that audience is probably at the top of the Forrester Technographics Ladder.  The mainstream social “network/media” user thinks about location in a very different way.  Location is about context.  What Facebook is doing is a rip off of what Google launched with Google+.  But, just because you copy something, doesn’t mean it can’t be better (VHS vs. Beta anyone?).

So what are they doing?  Well, they’re making location something that can be attached to virtually any piece of content shared on Facebook.  Think of it as tagging.  You can tag a status update, photo, etc.  For example, I could write a status update that says, “Heading out to Walgreens to pickup my prescription.”  The “Walgreens” portion can be tagged to a specific Walgreens location.  Keep in mind that’s a future event.  Cool, right?  When I upload a photo of an event or gathering, I can not not only tag the photos with the people who attended, but also the location of where we got together.  That’s a past event.  Facebook Places and foursquare focused on the I’m here RIGHT NOW aspect.  And Facebook lost that battle.  But, they may win the war, but allowing location context to be applied to just about anything.

Here’s what Facebook says on how this tagging will impact “deals” being offered:

Once someone tags where they are on Facebook, they will be directed to the News Feed. If the Place is offering a Check-in Deal, the title of the deal will appear below the News Feed story. You’ll then be able to click on the deal title and will then be taken to the claim flow.

As someone leading social for a large national retailer I have mixed feelings about this.  On the one hand, this is yet ANOTHER change to the Facebook platform for us to understand, contend with, manage, explain and learn to leverage.  I’m not trying to be a whiner here.  But, put yourself into the shoes of someone in my role.

Imagine spending a year convincing your organization (up to the CMO) that check-ins were a key trend, that Facebook was betting big on this, that KPIs around check-ins were critical, that you needed to get in-store support for deals and check-ins.  Imagine spending a year beating a drum about the value of check-ins and how local + social was the future.  Imagine spending a year convincing Sr. leaders to download the Facebook app, start checking-in and redeeming deals.  Now, imagine writing an email to all of those people saying, “so…ummm, remember how I said Facebook was going to revolutionize the check-in game and how I said we needed to invest millions in in-store signage to promote check-ins and remember when I said we should bet on Facebook because they had scale and we should ignore those foursquare folks, well…forget all of that, I was wrong.”

This is the challenge of the social space and with working with Facebook.  The speed with which the space changes and Facebook changes their focus and rules is tough to keep up with.  This is why you have to choose your partners well and have a defined strategy.

On the flip side of the equation, this presents serious opportunity for brands because deals/offers are no longer limited to just people who check-in.  This could increase the awareness of deals exponentially.  It could let people become aware of those deals before they head into a store.  This creates greater competition and a reason for companies to bring better offers to the table; that’s a huge win across the board.

These continue to be interesting times for organizations and it’s a big reason why you have to have a well defined social strategy in place. If you don’t, you’ll just be constantly gasping for air, trying to play catch-up.  Game on.

Walgreens, redbox And foursquare Bring You A Free Movie

Rarely, do I take to social platforms to promote the great work we’re doing at Walgreens, but this one is an exception. Over the past few months we’ve been working with the great folks at foursquare at redbox to bring something amazing to our customers. Today (8/15/11) ONLY, if check in on foursquare at any redbox kiosk located at a Walgreens you can get a free one-day DVD rental! This link offers more information. Beyond the particulars of how this works, I wanted to share why I’m so thrilled to see this idea come to life.

  1. The idea originated from one of our customers
  2. The folks at redbox were great partners. They were open to the idea, made it better and were able to bring it to life in a matter of weeks. For those of you in retail, you know how fast that is.
  3. Prior to this program foursquare did NOT allow redbox’s to be locations in foursquare that could be managed with business tools. The locations could exist, similar to any other location that you could add to the foursquare database, but redbox and similar companies couldn’t manage them like traditional retail/physical locations.
  4. It’s all very measurable. At the end of the program we’ll know how many people we drove to walgreens, how many people checked-in, how many people received their offer code to unlock a free movie and how many redeemed it.

In defining our social strategy at Walgreens, we’ve made ourselves accountable to 2 very important filters:

  1. ROI: Return on Investment
  2. ROA: Return on Amazing

This program delivers on both. Please give the program a try tomorrow and share your feedback with me on Google+, twitter, Facebook or emails. Thanks, enjoy and go grab that free movie tomorrow.

foursquare Understands Social For The Enterprise

There’s no shortage of companies to partner with in the social space.  It gets even more complex in the social-local game.  Even if you ignore all the new start-ups, you still have a number of serious players to consider working with: Gowalla, GetGlue, Loopt, Google Places, Facebook Places, scvngr, Where, Bright Kite and so many more. For a marketer this can be daunting.  The reality is, you can’t bet across all of these platforms.  You really do need to pick your spots.  Scale is important, but are other dimensions like is your audience using the platform, or do their “tools” support your business goals/objectives.  Bet wrong and it’s a big miss.  In large organizations the wrong bet can stunt your ability to continue experimenting and can siphon off the financial support needed to make social work.

At Walgreens, I continue to be impressed with how quickly foursquare innovates. From standard features sets, like the merchant api, to custom solutions specific to our needs (more on this in the near future), they set a high bar for the competition. As we focus on bringing social media down to the individual store level, the new merchant tools offer us unprecedented control over the types of offers we put in market to support our 7,700+ store footprint. The ability to customize around the standard api is what makes the foursquare announcement so intriguing. It provides us nearly limitless possibilities. For example, we could integrate check-ins into our award winning iPhone app that are specific to how we and our customers do business.

With foursquare’s new merchant tools we won’t be tied to a standard set of features designed to solve for the least common denominator. This approach is something that is germane to the way social media should work, but is at odds with how foursquare’s competitors are approaching the space.  The competitive set usually offers a standard tool-set (at best) for all companies to leverage.  The ability to customize for a specific need, campaign or organization just isn’t there.

Social is not a 1 size fits all proposition. It’s refreshing to see a company like foursquare offering companies like Walgreens the ability to customize the foursquare experience for our customers. As the largest retailer (based on followers) on foursquare, the new merchant tools will help us provide a return on amazing for our customers and a return on investment for our stores.

The die is cast, as Julius Caesar would say, and other social location platforms need to up their game to evolve into partners that understand the needs of the enterprise.

The Socialization Of Everything

As we continue moving away from the analog tools (see Near Field Communication replacing cash) of the past and present that were apparently holding us back, we’re starting to enter some very exciting and scary territory.  The other night I got together with a few colleagues for some happy hour fun and eventually the conversation turned to when we’ll eventually evolve to a culture and world similar to “Minority Report.”

4 years ago I didn’t think we’d get here till 2020-ish. I was wrong. We’re becoming more digitally intertwined by the day. As more of our data moves to the cloud and we’re simply passing it back and forth between companies, a whole world of opportunity is opening up.

Facebook Connect, as a model, was really the lynch pin and the catalyst for all of this. Facebook realized people don’t want to register for multiple sites, fill out form field after form field and give away 10 minutes of their day just to get a coupon. I know, I know, there are some people who will do that all day long. But, the Facebook Connect model eliminated so many steps in the joining process. It was a brilliant move and all companies should entertain the thought of integrating Facebook Connect to their sites and platforms. With a Facebook Connect model in place, we saw other social companies piggyback off of Facebook Connect or use similar platforms like OAuth to move data behind the scenes and let people connect quickly.

Let’s make four assumptions for the future:

1. People are willing to share to gain benefits (monetary, experiential, etc.)
2. They want limited barriers to joining, connecting and sharing
3. Companies want to consumers to share
4. Mobile sharing, which is the real opportunity, will need to expand beyond the cell phone and the apps powering them

With those assumptions in place, here’s six potential places we could see socialization take place (keep in mind, not all of these are necessarily good ideas):

1. Your car will be able to sync with platforms like Groupon Now, fourSquare and Google Offers. When you pull into a Best Buy, Starbucks or McDonald’s the car will automatically check you in, publish your check-in to your networks and serve you up an offer if one exists. Additionally, you’ll be able to use your GPS to find local and real-time offers.

2. Similar to Blippy, when you use something like Google Wallet to checkout not only will you pay quickly, you’ll automatically be checked in and broadcast exactly what your purchased, how much you paid AND be given the ability to rate the transaction on something like Yelp!.

3. You’ll be able to scan barcodes of products at retail and see what your friends have thought about the product along with the community at large.

4. When you return a product at retail there will be an automatic push to the retailer site indicating you’ve now, in some way shape or form, not “liked” the product.

5. As I wrote several months back, the next logical place for Facebook to go is the living room.  I think we’re going to see a situation that amplifies platforms like GetGlue and makes them real business drivers.  You’ll be able to “check-in” to a show or a commercial…then like it or unlike it.  That feedback will be used to inform advertisers, marketers, personal social networks, etc.  The data will live in the cloud and be mashed up with demographic data and interest data about the “rater.”  In a perfect world, that data will optimize your TV viewing experience and the types of commercials you see.

6. Will we be able to pay speeding tickets and other moving violations on the spot by tapping our phones? In doing so, you’ll be admitting guilt, but maybe get a discount on the ticket price?

Some of these aren’t crazy ideas.  Some are.  We’re in for a hell of a ride over the next 12 – 24 months.  Will marketers make smart decisions or reactionary ones to try and be the first to try something out?  All good questions, that we’re going to see answers to, very soon. Please, let’s not find ourselves in a situation where you can tap your phone on an adult dancer’s body to tip her. That’s just bad.

We All Want To Be Found

One of the the reasons I loathe AdAge is how slow they are.  If you’re reading something in AdAge there’s a good chance you’re about 3 months behind.  A lot of my colleagues and clients are all a flutter about this article titled, Forget Foursquare: Why Location Marketing Is New Point Of Sale.  Well thank your AdAge for insight that I covered last April 2009 in a post titled It’s Not Who You Are – It’s Where You Are. This is what I wrote back then:

Lately, it seems people are catching religion and evolving beyond pure demographics. My feeling is that we’re just about ready to jump on the “where are consumers” band wagon. Tools like Loopt and BrightKite cater specifically this concept. They allow users to see where are other users are. The new version of AOL Instant Messenger and Tweetie apps for the iPhone both offer the ability to see where other users of that app are. The applications and tools are nice, but it’s the sophistication of mobile devices and their adoption by consumers that are enabling this shift to happen. Hell, the iPhone has built in GPS so that you always know exactly where you are.

I’m a big time fourSquare fan.  I think they’ve nailed the right combination of sharing, gaming, context, simplicity, and user experience.  I’ve played with Gowalla, Loopt, Loopt Mix, BrightKite, Google Latitude and a whole host of other location based social platforms.  Part of the reason for the success of these platforms is the ability to leverage them on-the-go.  Today, on-the-go means mobile it doesn’t mean a laptop.  The computing power in devices like the Nexus One make mobile a tremendously capable platform and marketing channel.  The one aspect of the AdAge article I do agree with is that we shouldn’t just be focusing on specific networks, platforms, or apps.  The key is to have a comprehensive local strategy.  That local strategy might lead you to fourSquare, but it also might push you to Yelp! or something basic like geo-focused SEM.

At the intersection of mobile and social is the ability to broadcast our lives directly from our pocket. Those tweets, check-ins, and status updates create a rich stream of content for marketers to leverage.  Many believe that the “need” to keep our friends and the community at large in the loop is an indication of our vanity. Sure, for some, status updating is all about status. But, I believe for the majority of us we’re not looking to win a popularity contest, we’re simply looking to be found.

Let’s face it, most of us aren’t cool. We desire connection. We desire to know we matter. Being found validates our existence. As the old saying goes, to the world you are someone, but to someone you are the world. When we’re found we transform from just someone to someone’s world.

Of course this only happens if you’re listening.

Four Reasons Why People Hate Foursquare, And Why They’re Wrong

I’m out on blogger vacation this week. The keys to TheKmiecs.com have been turned over to a few, select, awesome guest writers. The following has not been edited by me and is the work and effort of the original author. I appreciate the time and thinking that went into this post and hope you will too. Enjoy!

By Jen Beio, media planner and champion of the pursuit of internet awesomeness

I love the internet. I really do. Truly, madly, deeply.

I love it for its quiet brilliance. I mean, after LOLcats, of course.

As a self-proclaimed digital kid, I am perhaps more inclined than the average bear to jump on internet bandwagons, due partly to my age, and partly to the fact that I’m such a savvy so-and-so (I kid). As such, I often find myself defending web ideas to my suspicious circle of colleagues and friends, and am always a bit surprised to have to do so. The things I find so incredible in their simplicity tend to strike my skeptical cohorts as stalker-esque, creepy fads. Can all my Foursquare haters please stand up?

For anyone who’s unaware, Foursquare is a location-based social networking community that allows users to state their coordinates and offer helpful tips to friends and other users who might also frequent that venue. Check off items on your to-do list, earn points, win badges, and become mayor of your favorite spots by checking in there more than any other patron. Fun, right?

Last night, I found myself arguing on Foursquare’s behalf on two separate occasions. I know. I need to get a life. Anyway, both scenarios involved individuals in the advertising community, and both conversations, despite my fervent outpouring of Foursquare love, resulted only in blank stares and/or furrowed brows. What. Is up. With that.

Let’s all stop hating for a moment and contemplate what it is about Foursquare that launches it to the top of my list of quietly brilliant web innovations.

Here are the top reasons to hate on Foursquare that I’ve heard from the hater community. And, of course, the reasons I beg to differ.

1. It’s creepy.

Yes, there’s an element of weirdness to having a location feed available on the web for the masses, especially as a single female in a big city. I’m not stupid; I get that. Perhaps I will get kidnapped on the way home from my current location, and you can all have a good laugh about it (jerks). You know what? Life is creepy sometimes. And dangerous, always. This is one of those cases where I feel like the benefits outweigh the risks, so long as you’re smart about the information you share. Keep reading for more on that.

2. It’s annoying.

It’s not annoying, it’s information. Foursquare is a gold mine for consumer data. I really can’t believe that I would need to argue this to people in the industry. All pings, badges and tomfoolery aside, what Foursquare does, essentially, is give businesses a free list (a list! for free!) of digital-savvy consumers who love you enough to want to broadcast to their web community that they are a patron. These are people who carry a certain amount of digital clout that want to spread the word about you, and they are going to do it for free. And, you now have access to a list of them, what they think are the best parts about your business, and even some information about them (their Twitter handles, phone numbers, and so on). It’s a CRM-lover’s dream. How are you not excited about this?

3. Who cares?

You care! Especially all those ‘yous’ out there who are in the biz. Or, the business-owning ‘yous.’ Our job as marketers is to care. You care (a) what people do with their time (b) what they choose to tell their people they’re doing with their time and (c) when you can put your brand in front of them at the right moment in time. Not to pontificate, but if the internet is spitting out free applications that help us to gather the data that provides a foundation for our profession, it is your responsibility to care.

[A caveat: this is not to say that no-one cares. I have seen a few cool case studies of businesses who have jumped on the Foursquare train, and are riding it to Consumer-Love Station. This post about the Pit BBQ in Raleigh, for example, truly warms my heart. Kudos to you, Pit BBQ management. Consumer interaction: you’re doing it right.]

4. Why would I want to do that?

Well, this one is really up to you. I like it because it’s a game, it’s fun to do, and it gives me a tool to coordinate nights out with friends. I also like the idea of creating a database of my existence, which is why you can find me tucking seemingly trivial information into many different data-ports around the web. It seems to matter to me. Personal preference of the digital kid, I imagine. But, fun for everyone who chooses to participate, I find.

Like I said, my romantic feelings for the internet lie mainly in its outpouring of tools that unabashedly display simple, beautiful, quiet brilliance. If nothing else, I love that I’ve been able to use applications like Foursquare to build out a community of web-adoring geeks such as myself. I simply cannot wait to see what awesomeness lies ahead for those businesses that have us geeks heading up their marketing initiatives.

For all those out there who choose to remain creeped out, annoyed, apathetic and non-participating, I apologize for wasting a moment of your time.

Thanks go to my editor, Clay, for helping to un-muddle my thoughts on this one. Virtual high-five. Thanks also to Adam, for asking me to guest-post. I’m flattered, and honored.