Category In the Spotlight

Have You IWalked?

Have you ever walked through a historic part of a city and saw a building and wondered if anyone famous ever lived or worked there?

Well, if you live in or plan to travel to Boston, New York City, or Washington D.C. in the near future, IWalked Audio Tours has you covered.

IWalked Audio Tours is a Boston-based audio tour production company that was founded in 2010 by Scott Woznicki.

In a June 11, 2012 press release, Woznicki explains that the company was born out of a passion to learn more about his new home in Boston, Massachusetts.

“I was inspired from living in London. I found a fantastic series of live audio walking tours that really opened my eyes to the city. I wanted to recreate that experience here,” states Woznicki.

According to the press release, “Each audio tour produced is recorded in real-time and provides step-by-step guidance for its listeners. You can actually hear the traffic passing by, adding to the ambience and experience. In addition, listeners are treated to a comprehensive portrait of sites along their traveled path. This isn’t your ordinary museum audio tour that leaves you hanging between destinations, as listeners are engaged throughout the full-length 1.5 to 3 hour tour.”

For those of you who don’t plan to be in the Boston, New York, or Washington D.C. areas, you can still benefit from Woznicki’s expertise, as he is very active on most social networking sites. If you have a question about the history of a historic building or landmark anywhere in the United States, he’d be a good guy to ask.

For full disclosure, I’ve been friends with Woznicki for about twenty years now, as we both attended the University of Wisconsin-Marathon County (UWMC) our first two years in college.

In the future, I plan to interview him about how effective each of the social networking sites has been in driving people to his business.

In this post, I want to encourage readers to connect with IWalked Audio Tours on Facebook,  Foursquare, Google+, PinterestTumblr, Twitter, or YouTube. IWalked Audio Tours also has a very interesting history/travel blog.

And, of course, if you are going to be in Boston, New York, or Washington D.C., be sure to take an IWalked Audio Tour.

If you are a history buff, you won’t regret it. Trust me.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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In the Spotlight: Tumblr

Photo credit: A Year of Yesterdays on Tumblr.In order to compete, it is becoming more important for brands to have a presence on social networking sites.

When it comes to social media, a lot of focus has been placed on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and more recently, Google+.

However, brands, particularly those that are targeting consumers age 18 to 34, should keep an eye on Tumblr.

According to a recent Nielsen study, titled “State of the Media: The Social Media Report Q3 2011,” Tumblr nearly tripled its audience in the last year. In fact, it has become the 8th largest site in the U.S. Social Networks and Blogs category.

The Nielsen study also states that, “An analysis of online buzz by NM Incite shows that Tumblr is also a popular conversation topic, generating an average of 21,280 messages and links per day to the site during May 2011, spreading critical word-of-mouth fueling its viral growth.”

What is Tumblr?

The Tumblr “About us” page answers that question like this: “Millions of people sharing the things they do, find, love, think, or create.”

The Nielsen study that I mentioned above describes Tumblr by saying that it combines elements of blogging and Twitter and allows users to post and customize everything from pictures and videos to links and quotes.

A recent blog post on socialmediaexaminer.com, titled “Should You Be on Tumblr? Seven Business Case Examples,” has a pretty good explanation of Tumblr. You might want to check it out.

Who’s on Tumblr?

My last two posts put forth ideas that were supported by Gary Vaynerchuk’s work. Therefore, I feel it’s necessary to mention that he is a big Tumblr fan. In fact, his main site, garyvaynerchuk.com, is powered by Tumblr.

Many celebrities have also taken a liking to Tumblr, including Katy Perry, John Mayer, Josh Groban, John Legend, Britney Spears, Lady Gaga, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, to name a few.

However, celebrities are not the only ones who are using Tumblr.

Your customers are as well… and lots of them.

As I mentioned earlier, according Nielsen, Tumblr is the 8th largest site in the U.S. Social Networks and Blogs category.

This makes Tumblr a site to watch and be on if you want to reach your customers where they hang out.

This is particularly true if you are selling products or services to consumers age 18 to 34.

In fact, according the Nielsen study that I mentioned earlier, 44.4% of Tumblr’s U.S. audience is age 18 to 34 and an additional 12.9% are age 2 to 17.

What might be even more important is the fact that Tumblr is gaining users, not losing them.

Brands Currently on Tumblr

The blog post on socialmediaexaminer.com that I mentioned earlier points out that Oscar De La Renta, Ann Taylor, Rolling Stone Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, Huggies, Milkmade Ice Cream, Somebody’s Mother’s, IBM, The Museum of Useful Things, Doctors Without Borders and Newsweek are all on Tumblr.

A post of socialfresh.com, titled “60 Brands Using Tumblr,” also has a list that you can use to see what other brands are doing with Tumblr.

My Thoughts on Tumblr

I started using Tumblr in September, 2010, for a 365 photoblog, titled “A Year of Yesterdays.”

The concept was to publish one photograph each day that was taken the previous day, thus “A Year of Yesterdays.”

In the process of posting photos, mostly of buildings in Atlanta, and later Central Wisconsin and Minnesota, I noticed that photos of certain buildings and restaurants were frequently getting reblogged.

Nothing viral, mind you, but enough to get me thinking that beloved local bars and restaurants, like The Varsity in Atlanta, Georgia, should definitely have a presence on Tumblr.

The same holds true for popular brands.

People are already sharing photos of products and brand logos on Tumblr.

Why not give them additional photos to help get your message out?

I think that the author of the post on socialmediaexaminer.com is correct when he says that, “short, highly visual blog posts tend to do much better than text-intensive posts.”

If your brand does choose to use Tumblr, remember to keep in mind the audience who uses the site.

The fact that Tumblr tends to attract a younger audience may be a result of this age group’s willingness to try out new sites. However, it might also be an indication that they are looking for a social networking site that their parents are not on. In other words, Tumblr users may be looking for an alternative to Facebook.

With this in mind, in addition to having visually appealing posts, I’d also suggest trying to keep your content cool, youthful and fun with the hopes that it will get shared by the Gen Y audience.

Conclusion

As Nielsen states, “Tumblr is an emerging player in social media, nearly tripling its audience from a year ago.”

That alone should make brands take note, and at least consider establishing a presence on the site.

Tumblr makes it easy to share content, and many of your customers are already doing so.

So, why not make it easier for them to let others know about your product or service by giving them great content that they can easily share on Tumblr?

Photo credit: A Year of Yesterdays on Tumblr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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In the Spotlight: An Introduction to Foursquare for Business

Location-based social networking sites are very intriguing to me.Photo credit: Sham Hardy on Flickr.

Most location-based social networking sites allow users to see where people in their network frequently visit. This has value, in and of itself, because it shows users places that they might want to explore in the future.

However, in most cases, that’s only the beginning.

As a marketer, I see the tremendous opportunities that are available to businesses of all sizes, from the “mom and pop” store on the corner to major retail stores that are found in malls all over the world. Even brands that make the products and services sold at these stores can utilize location-based social networks in their marketing efforts.

To illustrate this, let’s focus on some of the basic features of the most used** location-based social networking site: Foursquare.

Recent Major Milestones

In June of 2011, Foursquare became the first location-based social networking site** to pass the 10 million user mark. That means that over 10 million people, worldwide, are using Foursquare to share where they are with the people in their network.

It’s not surprising then, that a few weeks later they announced that there are over 500,000 merchants on Foursquare.

Foursquare Venues

Venues are the foundation of Foursquare.

The basic idea behind Foursquare is that when users visit their favorite places in the terrestrial world, they can check in to the venue on Foursquare and let the people in their network know about it. (Note: Foursquare also allows users to share their check-ins with people who they are connected to on Facebook and Twitter. And, Foursquare can also be linked to some other mobile apps. This adds even more value to the Foursquare check-in.)

The current version of the Foursquare app also has a feature that lists the nearby venues that are the most popular on Foursquare. This can help people plan their day, by recommending businesses that they might want to check out. (Hint: This might be a reason to encourage people to check in to your venue.)

As users check in, they earn points and badges from Foursquare. Users can also become the mayor of a venue if they have the most check-ins in the last 60 days. (Hint: This could be one way to identify some of your most loyal customers.)

Furthermore, users can also take advantage of the Foursquare Specials that the venue is offering, if there are any.

What are Foursquare Specials?

Foursquare Specials are mobile coupons, prizes or discounts that owners of a venue can set up, in an effort to get customers to visit their physical locations more often. A post, titled “Over 500,000 businesses are on foursquare! That’s a lot of Specials!” on Foursquare’s blog, gives examples of some of the Foursquare Specials that were being offered at the time the post was written.

If you do offer Foursquare Specials, be sure to let your employees know about them. It’s also important to train the appropriate staff on how to process these transactions.

Foursquare Pages and Partner Badges

Businesses that don’t have a physical location can still use Foursquare in their marketing efforts by taking advantage of Foursquare Pages and Partner Badges.

A business can set up a page on Foursquare with information about the business, links to other locations where they can be found on the Web, and a banner with the business’s logos and other graphics.

With Foursquare, a business can also create Partner Badges that users can earn for doing things that help the business achieve its goals. For example, Lucky Magazine awarded badges to users who checked in to recommended fashion boutiques.

Check-ins

Businesses also have the ability to check in to venues on Foursquare.

If your business is built around delivering products or services to customers at events, this could be a very useful feature. For example, event decorators, caterers and entertainers could use this feature to check in to the venue at each event that they are hired for, and include a message about the event and a photo of their contribution to the event.

Don’t Forget to Tip

Tips are suggestions that you can give to followers who check in at a given venue. This can be a great way to keep your business in the minds of your customers and potential customers.

The Foursquare website gives the following suggestions for leaving tips:

“Tips should be interesting, clever, and worthwhile nuggets of information (like a tweet) tied to a specific location.”

“Tips can be actionable: Go here. Order this. Ask for extra of that.”

“Good tips share insider info, like specific dishes, drinks, or secret details. Bad tips are just descriptions of what a user can see themselves.”

As an added bonus, tips that your users are interested in taking advantage of can be saved in their to-do list on Foursquare. This feature will remind users to do what you suggested the next time they visit the venue.

Conclusion

There are many opportunities for businesses to take advantage of Foursquare in their marketing efforts.

Keep in mind, I haven’t covered everything. For example, Foursquare announced that it will be incorporating daily deals from its partners (e.g., Groupon, LivingSocial, etc.) into its app. However, I haven’t seen this feature in action, so I will have to leave that for another post.

What I can say, though, is that businesses should at least consider using Foursquare to market their products and services. With over 10 million users worldwide, it could definitely be worth their time and effort.

If you are looking for additional information on using Foursquare in your marketing efforts, you might want to check out this Mashable article and the articles that they have listed at the end of it.

Finally, if your business is already using Foursquare for marketing purposes, I’d like to hear about your results. I might even be able to use your business as a case study in a future post.

Photo credit: Sham Hardy on Flickr.

** Note: This is limited to location-based social networking sites where location-based check-ins are the primary purpose. (Therefore, it excludes Facebook Places, Twitter, Groupon, LivingSocial, and Yelp.) See the Mashable article, titled “Foursquare Surpasses 10 Million Users [INFOGRAPHIC].” For additional information, check out the post on bynd.com, titled “The Reality Behind the “Check-In” Hype.”

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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In the Spotlight: Shopkick

Photo credit: qnr on Flickr.On July 6, 2011, the shopping app, Shopkick, passed the 2 million active user mark. That’s pretty impressive, considering the fact that it has been less than a year since they first made the app available to the public.

With Shopkick, consumers can earn points, or as they call them, kicks, for performing tasks like walking into a store or scanning items with their smartphones. The kicks can be redeemed for products at participating retail stores.

The growth of this app is definitely good news for retailers, brands and consumers.

The Benefit to Retailers

With the current economic downturn, anything that can bring consumers into their stores is a blessing for most retailers.

According to the article, “Shopkick Uses the Sound of Rewards to Bring Smartphone Owners into Bricks-and-Mortar Stores,” on xconomy.com, Shopkick’s CEO, Cyriac Roeding, says that retail stores will do almost anything to get people into their stores because conversion rates at bricks-and-mortar stores are very high.

Roeding says that about 20 percent of shoppers end up buying something when they visit bricks-and-mortar clothing stores. The conversion rate at bricks-and-mortar grocery stores is even higher; he says that about 95 percent of shoppers who visit bricks-and-mortar grocery stores make a purchase. In comparison, he says that the conversion rates for most e-commerce sites range from between 0.5 percent to 3 percent.

Therefore, it’s not surprising that retailers would welcome any technology that can help get consumers away from their computers and into their stores. That’s where Shopkick can help.

The current version of the Shopkick app allows consumers to see some of the featured items and discounts that are currently being offered at their favorite retailers. From time to time, consumers are also alerted to limited-time offers from select merchants. This alone will help get consumers into the stores.

However, that’s only the beginning.

As mentioned, consumers can earn kicks that can be redeemed for products from participating retail stores by completing certain tasks.

When they open the app, users will find a tab with a list of nearby stores with a green bubble next to the name of each store listed. Some of the stores have a green bubble with a number listed inside them. When users tap the bubbles with numbers inside them, they earn the assigned number of kicks and are shown additional deals that are available from that store. (Note: If users tap bubbles without numbers inside them, they don’t earn any kicks. However, they are still shown additional deals from those stores, if there are any.)

Another way for users to earn kicks is via the walk-in reward feature.

Using a device that sends data via sound waves that are above the range of human hearing to a smartphone with the Shopkick app running, participating stores are able to enable Shopkick users to activate the reward of the day. Because the sound waves can’t escape the building, users need to be physically in the store to receive the kicks. Thus, Shopkick is helping retailers increase foot traffic.

The Benefit to Brands

Once inside a participating store, Shopkick users can earn additional kicks by scanning in product bar codes with their smartphones.

Think about it, not only does Shopkick show users featured items and discounts that are available at stores, it also gives them an incentive to go to the bricks-and-mortar locations to earn kicks. Then, when inside the store, they can earn additional kicks for scanning in the bar codes on certain products.

Having customers scan in the bar code forces them to interact with the product. In the process of scanning in the bar code, customers are required to look at the item up close. In some cases, customers are even forced to pick the item up in order to find the bar code on the side of the bottle or package. And, once the product is actually in the customer’s hand, it makes it easier for them to put it in their shopping cart.

As an added bonus, after customers scan in products at a grocery store, they are often shown recipes that require the item that they just scanned in. This gives them another reason to make an impulse buy as a result of Shopkick.

In an article, titled “The Power of Velveeta: Shopkick Announces 3 Million Product Scans,” posted in February, 2011, on techcrunch.com, Ed Kaczmarek, director of innovation at Kraft Foods, says, “If we can bring our brands front and center while the consumer is in the store, it’s almost like having a billboard in front of them while they’re considering what to purchase.” He goes on to say that Shopkick has been at least as effective as other social media programs that Kraft has done in the last few years.

The Benefit to Consumers

As mentioned, Shopkick gives consumers information about discounts at their favorite retailers. It also allows them to earn kicks at multiple stores and spend them at any of the participating retailers, not just the ones where they earned the kicks.

Furthermore, if they are feeling altruistic, Shopkick users can donate their kicks to a wide range of causes including those that help fight breast cancer, provide disaster relief, help care for abused animals or help deliver free vaccines, just to name a few.

In the previously mentioned xconomy.com article, Cyriac Roeding says, “Our vision is to transform shopping into a more personal, rewarding, and fun experience for everyone. We hope to make stores into interactive worlds where consumers are exploring in a completely new way. Shopping should be something you are not dreading but enjoying, and until we have managed to make that possible, we will not rest.”

I think that they’re off to a good start. What do you think?

Photo credit: qnr on Flickr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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