Friday, September 17, 2010

"Short & Sour"

I'm finally ready to give my feedback on my experience with! In one word, "disappointing." In a second word, "why?" With my best foot forward, I jumped in and gave this newer social media vehicle a valiant effort. I had been challenged a few weeks ago to see if Foursquare might be good way to communicate with customers and fellow 'fair trade' advocates. The perfect tester would be at the Fair Trade Futures Conference I attended last weekend in Quincy, MA. Nearly 800 people participated in this event.
Before traipsing off to Boston, I signed on to Foursquare & loaded their app into my Droid. I wanted to learn the mechanics of the program. I found a few Facebook friends and Twitter-mates that were already Foursquare members and asked them to connect with me. And - yes, I only found a "few!" (Now, I know why!) I was told by users that if you check into certain restaurants and/or stores, you might receive discount coupons. I was told it was a good way of letting your friends know where you were. (or perhaps burglars?) I was told if you check into a place several times...& you visit that particular place the most, you become the "mayor" of that place.
My 1st week, I checked into "Dunitz & Company" nine times. I never became the mayor of Dunitz & Company. (Heck, who else would be mayor of Dunitz & Company?) I checked into several eateries, the local drug store, bank, Petco, the US Post Office, Staples, the grocery store, the vet hospital and the airport en route to Ft. Lauderdale. No coupons were offered. The software advised me that I was earning points for all of my "checking in." (I later read that these points are meaningless. They do nothing other than let the user think they are working towards something...) I did however earn several "badges". The "local" badge because I had been to the same place 3 times in a week. (Must be Dunitz & Company!) The "swarm" badge because there were '50' people at the airport when I checked in. The "explorer" badge because I had checked into thirty different locations.
Having the basics down.... I headed off to the Marriott Quincy where the fair trade conference was held. The entire time I was there, only one other person "checked in" on Foursquare. Hmmmmm - so much for communicating with my Foursquare friends and/or finding others at the venue I was attending. It definitely wasn't a way to learn if Bob N. or Lori S. might be attending the meeting on 'the future of fair trade commodities' or the one on 'using social media to promote your fair trade business' :)!!
I was just about to give up. I checked in one last time at Boston Logan on my way home. Voila - "a special opportunity"... an offer for a discount coupon! WOW. Click. Foursquare advised me I needed to email the "mayor" of the airport to obtain my coupon. Punch line? I emailed the mayor.... and you might have guessed it. NO RESPONSE! I think my Foursquare days are behind me now! I leave you with the two words I started with... "disappointing" and "why?" - ND