Reasons why Foursquare is the hottest Social Network on the web

Foursquare, the hottest Social Network on the web turned one yesterday. Hard to believe that its been around for just 365 days and still boasts of half a million users, 1.4 million venues, 15.5 million check-ins and is growing exponentially by the day if not by the hour! (see this excellent Hitwise Intelligence report for stats on Foursquare)

There are three important reasons for the phenomenal growth and popularity of Foursquare as compared to rivals such as Gowalla or Yelp.

  • Technology: Although just one year old, Foursquare has stayed on top of technological aspects and made sure that its app is user friendly and efficient in leveraging location based info from mobile devices. Its latest release, Ver. 1.7 features many enhancements such a new design, faster check-ins besides an easy way to view check-in history.
  • Ease of Use: Foursquare is very intuitive, easy to use and the latest release is a big step in this direction. (see this CNN video on how easy it is to use Foursquare)

  • Creative Design and Promotion Strategy: Foursquare has been very creative in its design – badges for example and the way you earn them. Also important is how Foursquare (and participating establishments) have promoted the service. For example, Starbucks recently teamed up with Foursquare to offer customer rewards (for more, see this link). And when other companies have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on marketing to reach target audience, Foursquare has relied on buzz generated by creative promotion strategy. At the  South by South West (SXSW), 2010 taking place in Austin, Texas, Foursquare had people lined up to play this game of four square with one of its founders, Dennis Crowley, outside SXSW venue, with people walking by and talking about it. This is great buzz for Foursquare, with total investment of around $5.99 for a box of sidewalk chalk, that other companies paid tens of thousands of dollars to generate inside the venue! Isn’t that cool? (watch the following video)

To summarize, Foursquare is the hottest Social Network on the web because it is technically efficient, easy to use and creatively brilliant in design and promotion.

What do you think are the reasons for Foursquare’s success?

Secret of Ford’s Social Media Success

Ford Motor Company is among a handful of large corporations with many successful Social Media initiatives. One of Ford’s most successful Social Media initiative is a called The Ford Story. This is a website that aggregates Ford’s social web participation along with what others are saying about Ford’s brands.

Few other examples of successful Social Media initiatives by Ford include Summer of Taurus, and (See this excellent blog post by Lee Odden for more).

To learn more about Ford’s Social Media success, watch this interview by Lee Odden with Scott Monty, Head of Social Media at Ford.

According to Scott, even the CEO of Ford understands how important Social Media is to the success of the company! Scott also emphasized the importance of having a good product, listening to customers and providing them with necessary tools for engagement.

Great advice in my opinion and a success story that other brands should try to emulate.

What if James Cameron directs Avatar like movie on Social CRM ….

James Cameron has written and directed many blockbuster movies including The Terminator, Aliens, The Abyss, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Titanic, and most recently Avatar.

In this excellent TED Talk, James Cameron describes his childhood fascination with the fantastic — from reading Sci-Fi to deep-sea diving, and how it contributed to success of his blockbuster hits “Aliens,” “The Terminator,” “Titanic” and “Avatar.” Also listen to him on why he made Titanic.

I like what he says about Curiosity, Imagination, Respect for team, Risk taking, Leap of faith and fear not being an option – rather than failure!

After listening to James Cameron, I was wondering if he directs Avatar like movie on Enterprise 2.0 technologies and Social CRM, how the story line might play out? What do you think? Please do share your comments on what the story line might look like …. let the imagination fly!

Social CRM: Take the Leap of Faith

In recent months, several publications, analysts and bloggers have highlighted the importance of Social Media and the need for allocating resources for Social CRM initiatives. I have published several blog posts on the subject and some of them are listed below:

But inspite of all the attention Social CRM has received in mainstream and social media, many companies are reluctant to invest in Social media initiatives and programs. This is confirmed by findings of a recent study by Burson-Marsteller titled Global Social Media Checkup. It was found that only 20% of those surveyed used all the four Social Media channels, namely Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and Blogs to engage their stakeholders. Social Media involvement of these companies can best be described as “minimal” (see following slideshare presentation for more). And if this is the level of involvement of companies on Fortune’s Global 100 list given all their resources and marketing budget, one can imagine the Social Media involvement of lesser known companies and those with smaller marketing spend!

It is high time for marketers to take a leap of faith and invest in Social CRM initiatives in order to engage customers through Social Media channels, because customers and potential customers are on social media channels discussing about products and brands – whether the marketer is represented in the discussion or not.

Moreover, according to a recent “The CMO Survey” from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and the American Marketing Association (AMA), marketers will devote nearly one-fifth of their marketing budgets to social media in the next five years (for more, see this link). Those marketers who take this leap of faith and move first in this direction will not only have first mover’s advantage, but will define standards, procedures and rules of the game.

NOW is the time for marketers to start Social Media initiatives for customer engagement and emerge as winners, rest will be laggards.

Dear CMOs, do you want to be a winner or laggard? The choice is yours!

Perfect Tango: Social Media and Smart Phones

The next step in evolution of mobile phone from “simple” telephones to mobile multi-media communication hub is social networking access via mobile browser and apps. This is going to be one of the big stories over the next couple of years that will fuel exponential increase in Social Networking Sites and their user base. It is estimated that currently more than 650 million people worldwide, or 13.4% of mobile subscribers, use the Web via a mobile device at least once a month (see this link). This number is all set to skyrocket as inexpensive smart phones continue to flood the market.

In a recent study by comScore on social networking access via mobile browser, it was found that 30.8 percent of smartphone users accessed social networking sites via their mobile browser, up 8.3 points from 22.5 percent one year ago. Access to Facebook via mobile browser grew 112 percent in the past year, while Twitter experienced a 347-percent jump. This validates the fact that Social Networking is the most popular and fastest-growing behaviors on mobile Web (see this link).

This is a global phenomenon, not limited to “developed” markets in North America or Europe. According to a recent global survey by The Nielsen Company covering 15,000 consumers across 15 countries, two-thirds of mobile users around the globe are interested in “smart” services that would feed them information based on location and social settings (see this link).

Given this rapid expansion of Social Networking, Mobile Broadband Internet and Smart Phone technology, one really wonders what can we expect to see over the next few years?

To answer some of our questions, here is an excellent slideshare presentation on Mobile Trends for the next ten years compiled by Rudy De Waele , Co-Founder,

Please enjoy this presentation and do leave a comment on what you think will drive adoption of Social Networking technology through smart phones?

Social Games market to touch $15 Billion in 5 years!

Charlie Rose recently interviewed Mark Pincus – Founder and CEO,  Zynga. For some one who is new to the field of Social Games, this interview offers a quick introduction to the subject and games like Mafia Wars and Cafe World.

I like what Mark said about Social Networks – “If you are on Social Network, you are in the game of building Social Capital” – very true!

(See this video and for complete transcript of this interview, pls see this link).

What does it take to succeed in Social Games?

Social Games are all the rage these days. In a recent survey of consumers in the US and UK who play games on social networking platforms such as Facebook, it was found that more than 24% of respondents play social games regularly, indicating a total social gamer population of approximately 100 million in US and UK alone.

And contrary to prevailing stereotypes, the average social gamer is a 43-year old woman – yes, you read that right 43-year old woman! (for more on survey results, see this link)

So with a fast growing affluent user base, what does it take to succeed in Social Games? Here is an excellent Panel Discussion on what issues leaders in this space grapple with on a daily basis?

Panelists are:

Facebook and Social Games

Excellent talk by Prof. Jesse Schell of Carnegie Mellon University on Psychology of Social Gaming and what drives player behavior in this area. Thanks to Social Networking, online Gaming (or Social Gaming as many call it) will grow exponentially in the next 3-5 years. Facebook games are a great example of things to come. Please listen to this enlightening talk by Prof. Jesse Schell:

Slides used by Prof. Jesse Schell:

Social Media Vision 2020

Excellent interview of Chris Brogan by David Thomas of SAS Institute on biggest change Social Media will bring to the way we do business.

Social Media according to Chris Brogan:

  • Lot of light as compared to heat
  • Puts human face back on Business
  • Big companies have a chance to feel small and human again
  • Individuals have an opportunity to compete with bigger organizations like never before

Social Media turning Marketers into Media Companies?

As more marketers use Social Media channels for engaging their customers and prospects, it is becoming obvious that they will have to take on additional responsibility for not only creation of content, but also facilitate sharing or distribution of content through Social Media channels such as YouTube. Some notable examples of this approach are:

This raises an important question: Should Marketers behave like Media companies when it comes to Social Media? If yes, what additional skills will be required by those in the marketing department for this new task. And what is the role of an “agency” in this new “set-up”?

In my opinion, marketers should take on additional responsibility of content creation with the help of agencies and professionals/SMEs in the area. Marketers should also provide necessary tools and platform for their customers to discuss about their brands, share content and exchange ideas. Agencies should use their expertise to help marketers connect with customers.

Listen to what Jonah Bloom, former Editor at Advertising Age, has to say on this subject:

What to you think? Should Marketers behave like Media companies when it comes to Social Media? Please share your views and opinion:

  • About Dr. Harish Kotadia

    That's me with photo gear,  taking snaps of Texas wild flowers. #texas

  • Dr. Harish Kotadia

  • Dr. Harish Kotadia is an industry recognized thought leader on Big Data and Analytics with more than fifteen years' experience as a hands-on Big Data, Analytics and BI Program/Project Manager implementing Enterprise Solutions for Fortune 500 clients in the US.

    He also has five years' work experience as a Research Executive in Marketing Research and Consulting industry working for leading MR organizations such as Gallup.

    Dr. Harish Kotadia's educational qualification includes Ph.D. in Marketing Management. Subject of his doctoral thesis was Customer Satisfaction and it involved building a statistical model for predicting satisfaction of clients with services of their ad agency.

    His educational qualification also includes M.B.A. and B.B.A. with specialization in Marketing Management and Diploma in Computer Applications.

    Dr. Harish Kotadia currently works as Principal Data Scientist and Client Partner, Big Data and Analytics at a Global Consulting Company. Views and opinion expressed in this blog are his own.

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