When discussing Foursquare, and other location-based networks, people often express that they don’t see the point in letting everyone know where they are at all times.  These individuals are missing the point of using Foursquare as a marketing tool and discount finder.

From a marketing standpoint, it is very beneficial to have your business set-up on Foursquare.  Any time someone checks-in to your business, their friends will see that they are there, which could potentially result in them going there as well.  There isn’t a more powerful way of getting someone to trust your business than knowing that someone they know trusts and visits that business themselves.  Also, being able to add a message when checking-in offers the opportunity for the user to help spread the word about any deals, events, etc… going on at that business.

For the consumer, checking-in to certain locations can provide you with special deals and discounts.  A lot of businesses have their accounts set up so that if you are the mayor or have made “x” amount of check-ins to their business then you will get a special deal or privilege.   For example, Starbucks was offering their mayors a $1 discount on their Frappucino’s this summer.  Also, District, a local Chicago business, offers their customers a special deal (one free appetizer) for every 4th check-in.  This is a popular method that more and more businesses have been using.

I understand that the idea of checking-in to places for others to see can sound like a silly concept, but it is important to understand that there is so much more to it than just letting people know where you are and that it can provide both consumers and businesses owners with a lot of value.


Alterian hosted a conference in Chicago this week focusing on “The Socialization of Your Brand”.  SVPs, CEOs, CMOs and the like from major organizations (i.e., Walgreen’s, Olgilvy, Edelman, WOMMA and Acxiom) shared case studies on how they are extending and expanding their brand’s social and emotional connection in a cross-channel manner.

Because this event was so fantastic, I have collected some of the best takeaways and attendee tweets from the conference to share with you.  I do not know who to attribute each point to so if you do please let me know in the comments section below.

I hope these bits of information inspire, inform, and entertain your social media senses:

• You can’t control the conversation, you can only join it
~ Don Peppers, Co-Founder, Peppers & Rogers Group (@DonPeppers)

• Online is the #1 channel used during the day when consumers are choosing where to eat
~ Jennifer Demarco Herskind, AVP of Marketing, Dave & Busters

• Measure success through engagement, not number of fans
~ Jennifer Demarco Herskind, AVP of Marketing, Dave & Busters

• When using social media for customer service, plan to address negative comments

1. Respond Quickly
2. Take the conversation private: i.e., ask the customer to DM you their email address or provide them with a phone number of a person to contact directly regarding the issue
3. Provide a concrete resolution

~ Jennifer Demarco Herskind, AVP of Marketing, Dave & Busters

• Understand how and where your customers are using social media
~ Donna Rossi, VP, Global Customer Experience Management, Western Union

@WesternUnion ’s corporate guidelines for SM – Take responsibility for what you post. #Alterian2010
~ @MichelleRTaylor

• Optimize the business around the customer: Always think about ways to increase customer service, not sales

@daveandbusters could wipe their photography budget clean and start using fan uploaded pics for ads #alterian2010

• Social media is all about stories and the people who tell them
~ Monte Lutz, Senior Vice President of Digital Public Affairs, Edelman (@MonteLutz)

• 97% of people have their mobile phones within 3 feet of them 24 hours a day
~ Monte Lutz, Senior Vice President of Digital Public Affairs, Edelman (@MonteLutz)

• In social media, your employees define the personality of the company (but only if management empowers the talent)
~ Monte Lutz, Senior Vice President of Digital Public Affairs, Edelman (@MonteLutz)

• Consumers want interaction, not interruption

• Success starts small and with understanding who owns social media within the company

• “You can’t take something bad off the Internet. That’s like trying to take pee out of a swimming pool.” – From Grant Robertson, blog post, May 1, 2007
~ Don Peppers, Co-Founder, Peppers & Rogers Group (@DonPeppers)

• “social media is like a cocktail party. Some guests initiate discussion, others hang on, the rest just listen” #alterian2010
~ @jackielamp

• Being social means getting other people involved (i.e., your customers!)
~ Don Peppers, Co-Founder, Peppers & Rogers Group (@DonPeppers)

• Social Media Marketing is inevitable – early mover advantage is huge in the new mindshare grab #alterian2010
~ @avanzyl

• There is no “EASY” button on social media and customer engagement – have to plan, have agility #alterian2010
~ @DonPeppers

• If it’s not spontaneous, it’s not authentic
~ Don Peppers, Co-Founder, Peppers & Rogers Group (@DonPeppers)

• Start intercepting customer complaints before they become customer complaints
~ Don Peppers, Co-Founder, Peppers & Rogers Group (@DonPeppers)

• As technology advances, so does its impact
~ Anita Baker, Senior Manager, Database Marketing, Cisco

• The 3 Stages of Personalization:

1. Based on what customers BUY
2. Based on what customers DO
3. Based on what customers SAY

~ Kathy Hecht, Chief Marketing Officer, American Greetings Interactive (@kathyhecht)

#alterian2010 @stanrapp “Wish it would have been called responsive media, not social media. It would get more respect in the board room.”
~ @gillum

• Our human nature is to be social. Technology injected that with steroids. #alterian2010
~ @AmandaDeVito

What are some of your favorite social media points/quotes/phrases?

The Fantasy Sports Trade Association (FSTA) Summer Business Conference will be offering Social Networking advice to businesses and individuals in the fantasy sports industry – including ESPN and CBSSports.com!   I am very excited to have been chosen to be the moderator for this panel alongside panelists, Steven Plous of Direct Message Lab and Joe Mathieu of Elton Digital.

The goal of the panel is to show attendees how to use social media and tools to create relationships, build brand reputation and generate leads through providing value to users.  As you know, social media is the new word of mouth and we will show the attendees the opportunities for their businesses.

The event will take place this Wednesday and Thursday, June 9 and 10 at the Doubletree Hotel Magnificent Mile in Chicago.  For more information or to register, visit http://www.fsta.org/conference/index.php

Do you use social media for fantasy sports and have questions/advice for people in the industry?

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Before reading this article, please tell me your retweet preference here:

Do you prefer the traditional RT or Twitter’s RT button?(poll)

When done correctly, retweeting is a great aspect of twitter posting.  It is a way to share other’s content with your own followers, while giving credit to the original poster.  All too often I see users improperly retweet content, thus defeating the purpose of retweeting.

When you retweet someone’s post, you are not only sharing valuable information with your followers, but you are letting the original poster know that you appreciate the value they provide.  Not too long ago Twitter added a retweet button, which I am not fond of.  So in this article, I will be sharing with you the proper way to manually retweet a tweet – the traditional retweet.  This may seem really basic to a lot of you, but I see it done incorrectly too often to know that it is necessary to have to spell it out in simple terms.

First of all, when you are retweeting someone, make sure to add “RT” before their username.  Then copy and paste the text of their post following their username.  For example: “RT @Username ….”

One of the things that I love about the traditional retweet is the ability to add your own two cents to the post.  For instance, if you want to retweet a post about a Super Bowl commercial, you can say “This one was my favorite! RT @Username Check out this Super Bowl commercial…”

It is important to know that whatever comments you add to the retweet must be stated prior to the “RT”.  If you try to add your comments at the end of the retweeted tweet, users might get confused and not know whether that was part of the original users’ post or something that you added to it.

Please take a look at the following examples of how to properly and improperly comment in an RT.  You’ll notice that the “improper” example has added their comment to the end of the tweet.  Do you see how that can get confusing to your followers?

Proper commenting in an RT:

Improper commenting in an RT:

Additionally, if you’re going to retweet an already retweeted post, this is the proper way to do so:

Is this information helpful?  Are there any other retweet tips that you can share with other users?  What retweet mistakes have you seen other users make? Also, at the beginning of the article, I asked you about your retweet preference…I would love to hear what your preference is and why you prefer one method over the other.

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Are you trying to build your twitter following but can’t seem to get new followers?  You probably need to take a look at the following areas of your profile:

1. Your Bio

What you say about yourself is one of the first things I look at when deciding if I’m going to follow someone.  If you don’t have a bio, I’m probably not going to waste my time trying to figure out what you’re about and therefore will not follow you.  If you do have a bio, I want to see keywords that describe the value you will be providing me with through your posts as well as something personal that lets me know you’re a real person.  I do not want to be following a machine.

Example of a good bio:

This user makes it very clear what their interests are, both professionally and personally.  I know exactly what to expect if I follow this user.

Example of a bad bio:

This is an obvious sell.  It does not in anyway give me the impression that this is an actual person’s account.  I know that if I follow it back, I will get nothing of value…just spam.

2. Your Web URL

Always provide a website for users to visit to learn more about you.  Even if you don’t have a company website or blog, chances are that you at least have one other profile on a social networking site that you can show (i.e., LinkedIn or Facebook).  DO NOT, no matter what, use a shortened URL on your profile.  Most people will be hesitant to click on it if they do not know what they are going to open.  Shortened URLs are great to use in your posts, but not on your profile.  Also, only the first 17 characters of the URL are displayed on your profile…so, unless it won’t work for some reason, take the “www.” out of the URL.  Taking out the “www.” brings 4 more characters into view allowing users to see more of the URL and, therefore, having a better idea of what they will be opening if they click on your link.

Take a look at the difference:


3. Your Posts

There are a few things about your posts that I check out when deciding if I’m going to follow you back or not.  The first is if you’ve ever even posted at all.  If you have never made a post to twitter, I’m not going see any value in following you.  Secondly, if you haven’t posted in a few months I’m going to assume that you are not active on twitter and, therefore again, will not provide me with any value.  If you have posted on twitter recently, I’m going to look at what conversations you are engaging in and what content you are sharing with your followers.  If I see that you are participating in conversations with other twitter users and/or posting content of value, I will follow you back.  On the other hand, if you are trying to sell yourself or a product in all of your posts, I am not going to follow you back.

Example of selling posts:

Each one of the links in these posts lead to a site that has either been flagged for spam or is trying to sell the same product.  This user is not providing any value to their followers.

Here is an example of how NOT to start conversations on twitter:

This is nothing but a shameless attempt to get attention on twitter.  If I see a lot of posts like this on a users’ feed, I will not follow them back because they clearly do not know how to use twitter.  You shouldn’t TELL people to follow you, you should demonstrate the value you will provide them with if they do.  (I inserted the red arrows to cover-up the “victims” names)

These are just a few factors that determine whether or not I will follow someone on twitter.  What things do you look at when deciding who you want to follow?  Have you decided not to follow someone for these reasons too?  Or perhaps you’ve been making these mistakes and now you know what to change in order to grow your following?  Let me know your thoughts!

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There are a lot of strong opinions out there about where traditional media is going, or not going for that matter.  Yesterday I attended the “2010 State of the Media” Vocus webinar and it really opened my eyes to the ways in which the media is changing.  I emphasize the word changing because people are often quick to say that it is dying.

We all know that the recession has paid a huge toll on the magazine, newspaper, television, and radio industries.  But what a lot of us don’t know is what that means for the future of media.  According to the Vocus Media Research Team traditional media is NOT dying, it is changing.  I want to share with you a few key takeaways I got from yesterday’s webinar.  I will break it down the same way they did…by the 4 main traditional media outlets.

MAGAZINES – Rebecca Bredholt, Managing Editor, Magazine Content, Vocus, Inc.

In 2009, about 1,126 magazines shut down and more than 600 editorial staff lost their jobs.  So now that the economy is (supposedly) getting better, does that mean that these job positions will return?  Not according to Vocus.  Bredholt said that “economic revival will not be a savior for print”.  She also predicts that in 2010, “duplicate/competing consumer titles are likely to fold”.  For example, Self vs. Shape or Travel & Leisure vs. Conde Nast Traveler.

So then what?  “Expect new content distribution models”, says Bredholt.  “iPhone apps are HOT”.

What does this mean to PR pros?

  • It means that we must think beyond print when pitching to magazine brands.  This is where social media releases (press releases written for the web) come into play.
  • We must pitch stories that cater to what the readers want to hear about.  Essentially, stories written up in magazines are no longer chosen by the editors, they are chosen by the readers.  So keep trending topics in mind when pitching.
  • According to Coates, this is a Revolution, not an Evolution.  Revolutions have two sides so make sure you know which one your editor or reporter is on.

NEWSPAPERS – David Coates, Managing Editor, Newspaper Content, Vocus, Inc.

Approximately 293 newspapers folded in 2009, and there were 421 layoffs/buyouts in newsrooms at major newspapers.  However, 45 new newspapers launched (are these people crazy?), 9 of which were online.   If all these newspapers are dying, why would only 9 of the 45 new newspapers be web-based?  Perhaps it is because, according to Coates, “newspapers are slow to accept new media”.

What does this mean to PR pros?

  • Be sure to consider a local angle to your stories rather than a national angle.
  • Get the media’s attention by:
    • researching what they write about
    • making information relevant to them
    • personalizing your messages
  • Features written in newspapers are largely the result of freelancers who pitch the stories they’ve written to those papers.  Keep that in mind when deciding who to pitch your story to.

TELEVISION – Julie Holley, Managing Editor, TV/Online/Blog/IRO Content, Vocus, Inc.

More than 100 stations have been affected by bankruptcies, but most continue to broadcast.  They do this without making it obvious to viewers by cutting-costs behind the scenes.  Holley also pointed out that some local station are gravitating away from news-based formats and moving towards talk show formats.

What does this mean to PR pros?

  • More than ever, we must make it easy for journalists to cover our stories.  We should not send out a pitch unless we are completely ready to respond immediately.  For instance, if we send out a pitch in the morning, we might hear back from them by 11:30am saying they want to shoot at 12:00pm that day.  Not being prepared will ruin that relationship.
  • Pitch non-typical formats – i.e., talk shows and the web (there we go with the social media releases again).  Think about what guests you can bring to their show, like a “Go To Guru”, for example.
  • Also, most stations are broadcasting in HD so we should put extra effort into providing high quality, B-roll footage that is edited to professional standards.
    • Make videos available on your site or YouTube for easy viewing and on a DVD to send to the media

RADIO – Kyle Johnson, Managing Editor, Radio Content, Vocus, Inc.

In 2009, about 10,000 people in the radio industry lost their jobs.  Local stations began running nationally syndicated programs and revenue dropped 15% – 20%.  Competition with satellite radio, streaming media, and iPods/MP3 players is causing this struggle for traditional radio.  However, Johnson noted that “radio has always been a survivor” – TV and cable once threatened it but was able to survive on “localism”.

What does this mean for PR pros?

  • Radio continues to be effective.  There are still more than 13,000 licensed over-the-air stations, not to mention the fact that the FCC requires radio to donate time to the community.
  • Basically, Johnson predicts that radio will continue to be a survivor of changes, but we might need to take podcasts, mobile media, and streaming media into consideration when making our pitches.

Here is my interpretation of the presentation: CHANGE = WEB/MOBILE.  By the media “changing” Vocus is saying that it is moving towards the web.  While traditional media still exists, I am seeing a significant amount of the media moving towards the web.

Did you get the same message from the information I shared with you?  If not, how did you interpret their message of “change” in the media?  Let me know your thoughts.

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