Reflections on Readings for Week 8 (Happy Spring Break!)

The readings for this week in my Social Media Theory & Practice class included articles on location-sharing apps. The first article, “7 Ways Journalists Can Use Foursquare” by Shane Snow, gave some good tips for making the most of these apps. The seven tips included: finding targeted contacts, breaking news, sourcing information from tips, learning about people your profiling, discovering and monitoring trends, publishing and distributing content and crowdsourcing new and rewarding readers with badges. The app featured in this article was FourSquare. In thinking about these tips, I can see how these kind of apps can be valuable for journalists because it gives them a lead on where the news is happening, making it easier to find interview subjects and to make connections.

On the second tip about breaking news, I’m not sure if location-sharing apps can take over the large market share that Twitter commands as a social news tool. Working at a university, I think these apps could be effective as another means to distribute information during an emergency situation if the event was contained to a specific building or area of campus. Ever since the tragedy at Virginia Tech, universities have been hyper vigilant in getting timely notifications out to students during emergency situations. Thank goodness at Tennessee Tech, we have not had a life-threatening emergency, but we have had suspects on the run around campus and of course severe weather alerts. We have found that using social media, Facebook and Twitter, to be faster versus using our RAVE alert system that sends out text alerts. RAVE is an opt-in system, and it requires several steps to join versus following a social media page with just one click.

Another tip that I thought had potential was the publishing and distributing content. It was not mentioned in the section, but as a marketer, my mind went immediately to how businesses can capitalize to have their reviews get top listings when someone is using a location-sharing app — sort of like pay to play. This could be a way for apps like FourSquare to make revenue.

The last tip on crowdsourcing news and rewarding readers was good. However, I don’t think badges hold long-term appeal/reward for people to continue to use an app. One of the first rules of marketing is remembering WIIFM (what’s in it for me). Businesses should be offering their most frequent customers who check in discounts/coupons/premium seating, etc. — something tangible and immediately rewarding versus a virtual badge.

The second article this week was choosing one about another location-sharing app to read. I chose “We&Co Aims to turn the Checkin into the Thank You” by Christina Warren. This article was written in 2011 when We&Co launched. We&Co’s original intent was to provide a way to connect customers and employees of businesses. If you get superb service at a business, this app would let you give a personalized shout out to the employee who did a good job. I think this really has some potential. For example, I am a frequent shopper at Kohl’s and at the end of every purchase, they tell me how much money I saved and encourage me to take a survey to help the employee and the store. Well, as a customer, that means I need to keep up with my receipt, find the time to sit at my computer, log on to and take the survey which lasts 5-10 minutes. That is a lot of work for the customer. It would be much easier if an app linked my location, asked me if I made a purchase and then allowed me to say rate good/bad experience and let me type in an employee’s name if they were particularly helpful. I could get reward with a coupon on my next purchase.

I checked online to find an update on We&Co since I thought this product had potential. Since its launch, it has morphed into a hiring solution for the service industry. On its Facebook page, which only has 940 likes, it calls itself “Linkedn for Service Professionals.” The company says it gives these workers an online identity to help promote their careers. In some instances I think catering to a niche is good, but in this one, not many people I know aspire to be in the service industry for an long period of time, unless they are climbing the ladder to management. So looks like not much growth or press for We&Co since its launch.

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