Last Friday I attended an excellent event hosted by the NYC Digital Collective aka The Digital Collective.  It was a great group of digital leaders in the NYC area.  Big brand names from several verticals were there such as Macy’s, Pfizer, Citi, Mercedes.  The small group setting was a perfect time to trade stories and tips and hear from several excellent presenters, such as Pete Blackshaw, Global Head of Digital Marketing and Social Media, Nestle.

The most intriguing presentation was chaired by an Andreessen Horowitz rep.  He had Twitter and Foursquare on hand to explain recent developments at both companies.  Andreessen Horowitz is an investor in both and was the head cheerleader.

The presentations were very good, and strangely, very similar.  Both used nice graphs and animation to explain the amplification affect social media has on promotions or events.  Essentially, their platforms accelerate word-of-mouth, and with hash-tags and likes, its never been easier for people to spread the word without ever talking.

First, Twitter showed how the TV show, Breaking Bad, extended their promotional coverage of the show by 8%-16%.  This article on Variety.com does a good job explaining the new ratings Twitter does with Nielsen on this extended amplification. Twitter clearly proved it had a positive impact on “building momentum and extended a brand message,” even if it was just a TV show.

Next, Foursquare presented the check-in overlays of several well know locations like the Blind Tiger in the West Village and JFK airport.  With some amazing data, Foursquare displayed the check-in daily lifecycle of entire cities.  I found a good example of this check-in pattern of NYC and Tokyo on HuffPo.  Foursquare, with a good degree of accuracy, is starting to predict who was going where….when!  When you think about that, its amazing.  What if the deli downstairs from my building knew I was 20 minutes away, and instead of me waiting in line for my egg sandwich and coffee, they had it waiting for me?  What if the movie theater knew I was on the way and had my tickets waiting?  Predicting the future whereabouts of a person is a really powerful thing and a huge marketing tool.

After the presentations I was speaking to a few attendees and we all agreed, Foursquare seems as powerful tool as Twitter – so why aren’t more people using it?  The popularity of Foursquare is well behind Twitter and Tumblr.  Amongst our small group, everyone agreed they’ve stopped regularly checking-in at places and no one was using it for advertising, but we all use Twitter.  Then someone said, “Foursquare doesn’t give me anything.  I feel like I check-in but there’s nothing that I can take out of Foursquare.”

This was a huge lesson in Social Media for me and should be a big reminder to everyone about why social media works.  Twitter is a sharing and consumption medium.  I regularly check my Twitter account for news and other interesting things that come across the transom, but I never do that for Foursquare.  The participation in Foursquare is almost entirely one-way.  Foursquare take-ith but does not give-ith.

This problem breaks a core principle of social media.  Users need to interact with the media in order for the network effects to take off.  In the case of Foursquare, my assumption is, that users aren’t getting enough out of Foursquare for what they put into it.  If Foursquare can figure this out, it may catch Twitter and Tumblr.



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