Tuesday, 24 July 2012

The Foursquare Special

Many predicted that the introduction of Facebook places would be the death knell for Foursquare, but the network is still going strong.

With 20 million users worldwide (although probably only a portion active), Foursquare is a popular geo-social  network, and brands look to make the most of this. When the network first became popular 'specials' were quite common. These offers were created and managed by brands and venue owners to try and attract custom, and were free to the promoter.

I have seen less of these offers in the last year or so - perhaps indicating that they weren't particularly effective in terms of RI - however this collaboration between Amex and EAT caught my eye.

Check in to Eat, pay £5 and you get £5 credit! Sounds good doesn't it?

Unfortunately I think it's another case of 'no such thing as a free lunch'. I think the offer is a bad idea, for both brand and customer, for two main reasons:

User Experience: The process requires you to 'synch' your Amex card. Forms (which will probably be filled in on a smartphone due to the nature of Foursquare meaning you are on the go), and handing over credit card details. Everyone knows this is a big turn off for the online customer, and will likely put off the majority of punters.

The process was also pretty clunky, having to synch, then check in to EAT, then use your amex to pay in EAT, then click load or something (I had lost interest by this point).

Proposition: Let's think about what the customer is actually doing here, and also take a look at the small print. You are paying for your lunch with a credit card. I personally don't usually do this. I will get out cash or pay with a debit card, but to me credit is something to be used in emergencies, or when I need protection guaranteed for a large online purchase. The small print says 'credit is usually issued 3-5 business days, may take up to two billing periods'.

So let's get this straight. We owe Amex £5 for up to 2 months, before our balance is restored. If just 1%  of Foursquare users took up this offer, that would be a credit card debt of £1,000,000. Perhaps I'm being too cautious about this, but considering how we got into the current economic climate should we really be encouraging the 'stick it on the credit card' culture? Why not just pay with a fiver from the cashpoint? I think Amex and EAT got this one wrong to be honest...

Monday, 23 July 2012

HTC Elevate

Good news - For everyone fed up of me prattling on about my phone, I now have a different forum in which to do it!

I saw a random tweet asking for 500 people to join the HTC Elevate program, and, given my geeky obsession with the little green robot, I signed up. They are (were?) after people to be part of a community, who share tips, beta test, give feedback and enter competitions. 

Unfortunately there was a confidentially agreement as part of the signup forms, so don't expect any exclusives here, but I will still keep the blog updated on anything that's in the public arena, and any handy hints and tips that I learn.

I think it's a great way of rewarding natural brand ambassadors and also very a good move for HTC itself. The community is giving them honest insights into the product's strengths and weaknesses and even suggesting improvements. It has the feel of market-research-meets-think-tank and members are engaged on a personal level, rather than disintrested focus groups. 

HTC is a company that's really listening, in an honest yet professional way, yet they aren't constantly shouting about it either. Quietly brilliant....

Monday, 16 July 2012

Social Media Case Study: Shell

EDIT: It turns out (thankfully) that this campaign is a hoax orchestrated by Yes Men. Very clever!

It's at times like these you might hear me say that social media just isn't for everyone. A company whose actions are generally quite contentious, would do well not to draw attention to them, no?

Not so for Shell, who thought it wise to open up one of their least popular ideas to the social sphere. 

They asked members of the public to design an advert for Arctic energy production, using beautiful pictures of Artic scenery and overlaying their own text. Here's what happened:

shell social media case study

"Turn the power on, it's time to melt some ice"
"You can't run your SUV on 'cute'"
"Some say catastrophe, we say opportunity"

People wrote what they really thought on the posters. In an ironic twist the social voting system (usually employed to encourage users to filter out inappropriate content by voting it down) has meant that those who don't want to destroy the environment, are able to keep their views in the spotlight by others affirming their messages.  

It really couldn't have worked less in Shell's favour if Greenpeace had orchestrated the campaign.

I honestly don't know what Shell were thinking, and the PR department must be panicking now as the site is still currently showing these messages at the time of posting.

Where to go from here? I honestly don't know. They have a few options:

  • Remove the website entirely - Not a very 'social' response and would lead to ridicule online and possibly from the press, but would blow over (relatively) quickly.
  • Engage with the public, asking them to stick to the advert's intended messaging - although asking people politely to stop is the usual first response to trolling (and a good one) it doesn't really work here because what is being said isn't offensive, and the public have the moral highground.
  • Remove the page and replace with a conciliatory message saying something like "we have listened to your concerns and are taking them on board. Please bear with us while we evaluate the best course of action" - Ha! Yeah right. Again, other companies may be able to make this approach fly, but when you're an oil company trying to drill the arctic we're not going to fall for it... 
Moral of the story? If your proposal is going to upset the majority of the general public then don't put it to them publicly via social media. Definitely don't give them a chance to respond. Oh and don't ever, ever, try to con them into creating an ad campaign for you and your morally dubious campaign!