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There are many people working in the car business that are getting very active using a social networking "Geolocatiing" application known as "Foursqaure".  As Joe Webb points out, this is not to be confused with the "4 Square" write-up, commitment creating, desking and write-back tool of choice for many other auto professionals for at least 30 years that I know of... But, I have no problem finding the utility in using the 4 Square deal write-up method and I am having a hard time coining to grips with the payoff potential of using Foursquare the social-geolocating networking app....

I do not doubt that there must be something really cool about Foursquare because many people I have a high regard for and respect seem to have become quite addicted to it... However, I also have a high degree of respect for Crack Cocaine and heroin, enough so to stay away from the stuff!

So besides Foursquare's widely observed addictive potential, and the fact that I believe it is one of the most popular social networks that utilize a cell phone's GPS capabilities... Seeing people like Brian Pasch, Dave Metter, Eric Miltsch, Gary May and other well respected automotive digital marketing professionals checking in to Foursquare listed locations many times each day makes me wonder... Is this testimony to the relative utility in applying Foursquare as a Social Media Marketing tool for car dealers, or is this testimony to the almost game-like propensity that Foursquare has in seemingly "hooking" people on attaining more badges and becoming the mayors of their own empire in the Foursquare universe?

I want to emphasize that I am NOT CRITICIZING the use of Foursquare... I just have not figured it out yet and am looking for some help in understanding.  

Tags: Automotive Social, Foursquare, Marketing Strategy, Social Media, Tactics

Views: 178

Replies to This ADM Discussion

Geolocation is the next big thing, it's popping up everywhere and most social networks have something in the works to take advantage of it. As far as FourSquare goes, they just announced hitting 725,000 subscribers and 22 million check-ins (Mashable).

There are a lot of different ways for a dealership to use it, from taking advantage of the real time search opportunities (and Bing Maps, think testimonials) to creating prize opportunities for the mayor of the dealership. Of course, there is more, but that's just scratching the surface. As far as me using it, I'm just getting familiar with a new toy but I see a lot of potential.
@ David - Thank you for the informative response... But, let me play devil's advocate for a moment and ask about a few issues I have with the data you cite and my own observations. For example, the entire global user base for Foursquare is less than the population of Albuquerque, and there are 22,000,000 check ins to date... Looks like small volume of users of a highly addictive application.


And since there are awards like "Mayor" and earning merit badges of sorts, it starts to look more like a game than a social networking application. Even a year ago, less than a million members would not have gotten you on the list of the top 100 social media sites... So... It is NOT the volume of users, and the check ins just show that the few people currently using Foursquare are loyal and fastidious users... The Geolocating aspect is matched by many other social media networks, including Twitter, Facebook and a few others... So... There must be something else to this Foursquare thing... Is it the competitive aspects of this "Social Media" that give it some of the Massive Multiplayer Gaming type of appeal? Is it the decidedly uncorporate tone and verbiage of the communications, updates and alerts? Could it be that it appeals to the eavesdropper in all of us in that we can see where are "Friends" on Foursquare are and have been?
It is small potatoes in the grand scheme of things and I guess my draw, for now, is getting as many badges as possible. We love to brag, we like to show that we are better than others and the whole badge thing is a nice thing to brag about. But, its not the total number of users that's astounding its the growth factor.

I think Foursquare is great for business in general, its kind of a real time testimonial engine, more or less. I do have some ideas for Foursquare that go beyond the mayor/search thing and involves OTHER local businesses and a kind of scavenger hunt. I'm always thinking how a dealership can use existing social networks to get the community involved, and not just customers but other non-competing business as well.

I see social media as going beyond a dealerships personal brand and their customers/potential customers, I see a "social dealership" as being the center of a hub of connections. I think a dealership looks better in the eyes of the public if they include local businesses in their social promotions. But that's for another post.
Dave - Now THIS is a strategy concept that I have personally believed in for a long time and have been able to glimpse bits and pieces of at various dealerships. I absolutely agree with you that creating a network of local businesses has the potential to tap into a certain NOT-Walmart type of home market, home grown community business appeal sort of thing... I saw this working in Albuquerque and was always impressed by the way hundreds of local businesses would collaborate to make things happen, sponsor events and sort of become a Chamber of Commerce by the people, for the people and about the locals who owned and operated businesses.

Now, don't get me wrong, I am a pure capitalist from a political economic perspective, so God Bless America, including Walmart... But, this is about using social media marketing to gain competitive advantage and I saw what happened close up when Scott Empringham and Flashpoint did the "Follow Me To Bliss" social media marketing campaign in New England last summer when they started to get other non-automotive businesses involved... The numbers went through the roof and the Lincoln Mercury dealers in that market are still talking about it... Keep in mind that this was a social media marketing campaign that lit up traffic to LINCOLN MERCURY dealerships! I am not talking Ford, Honda or anything else that is easy to promote right now... We are talking Lincoln Mercury! And if something like mapping out the location of a new Mercury with a couple of attractive women in it as it goes from business to business that enrolled online can drive traffic into those showrooms, well it is worth investigating...

Again, key ingredients were geolocating social media applications, dozens of non-auto local businesses that sell stuff for one of the models who were driving the car's wedding to a Boston Red Sox ball player,,, a new Mercury Milan Hybrid (the star) and lots of geotagged video clips of the models doing weird stuff that these businesses came up with as sort of a cross between a scavenger hunt and fear factor.
Not to brag at all, but I think that is where I differ from my competitors, I like to think OUTSIDE of the platform. What I do is a whole different animal, then again it has to be a special dealership that wants to take it on, which, in effect, limits the number of dealerships that want to work with me, but those that do, we have a blast!

Anyway, back to Foursquare!

Here are some interesting stats I came across in regards to mobile users and social media, and are just a few more reasons why devoting part of your social media strategy to mobile based social networks is a smart thing.

* 91% of mobile users go online to socialize (compared to 79% of desktop users)

* Mobile phone users are 1.4 times more likely than traditional desktop users to rally support for a cause (67% vs. 47%)

* Youth (44%) are more likely to shop over their mobile phones than the average mobile user (35%)

* They (64%) are 1.4 times less likely than the traditional user (94%) to go online to research (Can we say instant gratification!)

Here is the rest of the study, very interesting in deed!

STUDY

Or a Graphical interpretation
David,

If the city-wide, mobile phone treasure hunt for car dealers is what you are interested in then I'd love to talk because that's exactly what we do.

Here is an example to check out with our upcoming event in St. Louis http://jaywolferacefortheride.com and here is a video of an event we did with a jeweler in Sacramento http://bit.ly/sacramentoscvngr.

I like the way you think! :)
Oh and yes, we are all voyeurs after all! LOL
There is a site you need to keep your eyes on and Inventory Blaster is a BIG part of called www.BlockChalk.com Geolocation at its best .. Just takes a while to catch on . I remember looking at facebook 5 years ago and saying NO WAY lol ....
Ralph,

Great points. as always. While most of the use of social media, tools, games, integration and more that I do is the breeding ground for the work IM@CS does for dealers, there is definite competitive nature to the geolocation games like Foursquare, Gowalla and others. That being said I believe the best use is another form of CRM, just as you know I believe that Facebook is the truest form of customer engagement.

These are tools. They are tools to follow, communicate and entice consumers. Period. But this is part of a larger strategy. Social CRM is much larger than any single app, widget or platform. And it's the future of our business!

Starbucks is already on the Foursquare train in recognizing their "mayors" along with other businesses. Our industry still believes in push marketing, obnoxious email/newsletters are relevant, over-sized inflatables on rooftops win and whoever spends more likely has the upper hand. What they need to believe in more (and it's happening) is that influencers help business grow, passive engagement is what people want, relevancy and content are controlled by the consumer and that you need to have fun while you work.

Foursquare is one of the, if not the, easiest tools to use around social media. Click on the app, touch the location you're at (or add it), touch the "quick check-in" button, done. Add a tip, and it's even better: geotagging meets Yelp! It's simple: groundswell is so important today.

It's a tool. One of many tools. It's hot today. There will be more tomorrow (Foursquare is the second round for the inventors: Dodgeball was their first company; it was bought and squashed by...Google!!)

A large company buying a small start up, then killing it? Hmmm, that would never happen in the auto industry, would it?

Follow the bouncing ball of use and consumer adoption, you're bound to win. Maybe this is one more way that we can turn around the reputation that automotive retail has. What do you think Ralph? People having fun at and with dealerships?

Waiter...check please!!!!
I'll get the tab this time...
Ralph,

Excellent questions...here's a few thoughts.

Geo-location is hot. Several apps in the space have been around for about a year, some even longer. (Foursquare, Gowalla, Brightkite, etc) Mainstream buzz was helped by their emphasis during SXSW again this year.

FS initial allure comes from the "reward" of the badges.

The true utility & brilliance grows with greater mass acceptance by users as they "check-in" at various businesses.

I recently checked in at "Henrietta Hots" - in doing so, a few key things happen at once:
- I blasted "Henrietta Hots" to my network. Free advertising for them. (You're welcome Henrietta Hots.)
- The GPS features notified me of a "Special Nearby" at Carrabba's Italian Grill. (about a mile down the road)
- Since I like Carrabba's, I'm now interested in going there for 2 reasons. I want my Mayor badge & I want my free desert.
- If I go, Carrabba's gains at least two visits from me, via a hyper-targeted method at zero cost.



The challenge? Promoting your own venue, getting people to check-in and creating your own tips & to-do lists.

Look for more interesting developments as FS is integrated into search/maps and other creative cross-promotional elements. (And even a few competitive ideas)

Sure, it's small. But it's different. And fun.

...what say you?
Attachments:
... I say.... hmmm... I may be starting to see the light. Thanks for the very helpful explanation!

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