the grass is greener on the internet


Foursquare Moresquare
June 9, 2010, 10:48 pm
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It started off with a few tweets on my Twitter feed. Then a few more.

And suddenly, Foursquare was being predicted as not just the Next Big Thing, but THE Big Thing for social media. Also know as, The Application That Will Actually Make Money.*

Interestingly – and I could be wrong about this – foursquare seems to be the one social media tool which has taken off with a wider age base and NOT the Gen Y crowd.** If I asked a dozen of my friends, ‘are you on foursquare?’ they’d look at me:
a) like I’m crazy
b) and ask me why you’d want to share that kind of information with strangers in the first place.
But now that they’ve signed with MTV (what??) and they’ve made it into the news across the world, it looks like this is one app I can no longer avoid.
And so we come to this…

…the elusive superswarm badge.

Now, I’m told you can get one of these by having 50 people or more ‘check-in’ to a place at once. As you may know, on June 2 Ogilvy Melbourne decided to go for the world record for the number of check-ins at their office – unsuccessful, but still the first Australian location to get the yellow jersey badge.

Well, somebody at Ogilvy loves foursquare, because they’re using it to bring the blogger reward meet-up to the next level.

As part of the launch for Microsoft Office 2010 they’re getting Sydney foursquare mayors to check-in to Martin Place for the chance to win software, get some free food and do some networking.

For those playing at home, a foursquare mayor is the person with the most check-ins for a location. They get a badge too:

It looks something like this. Not embroidered of course, but the fact that you can now buy these babies is a scary concept.

The foursquare mayor concept is an interesting one in itself, encouraging more check-ins and allowing venues to see who their most loyal tech-savvy customers are. But the fact that Microsoft is specifically targeting mayors – is this a way of trying to separate the influencers from the rest of the pack?

[I wonder if any of this came out of the Microsoft Protegé competition?]

Well, if you’re in Sydney and you want to meet some other foursquarers (or is there a cooler term I’m not aware of?) here’s the details:

You only need to be one of the first 111 foursquare mayors to check-in to be in the running for free software, and the t-shirts are free game for everyone, so why not?

Now to get me a foursquare account…

* Their growth at least seems more credible than Twitter’s, as there’s less potential for robots called Britney1691 who are lonely tonight.

** Although Twitter has also seen limited success among Gen Ys I’ve talked to, it has a much higher awareness rate.

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Cities and diamonds
August 4, 2008, 10:23 am
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I was surprised to learn that the most ‘green’ champagne is apparently Veuve Clicquot. Transported by sea and pressurised to weigh less (hmm, are we getting less?) it’s just a little more friendly to the earth than other bubbly. I am told that its box also folds out to form its own ice bucket – I’m not sure if that really reduces waste but it is certainly a cool idea.

This article by Paul Graham really confirms for me why I want to move.

Back on the topic of blogs as an advertising tool, National Australia Bank’s advertisements for a new SMS banking service in the commenting space of several Australian blogs caused a huge fuss in the blogging community.

Banks never have a good time of it; nobody really LIKES you, but they do need you. Still, it seems like every bank wants to be your friend, and sometimes just try too hard. ANZ’s latest tvc which tried to show that they consider everyone’s feedback as well as depicting what a bank would look like if they offered the services of a beautician was entertaining, but didn’t give them much credibility. The Commonwealth Bank also went for entertainment, with a ‘behind the scenes’ look at them turning down an overdone, showy ad proposed by an agency because they want to keep it simple. While – perhaps in the name of tact – the agency was pinned as being American, it brings up the question as to why an Australian bank would employ an American agency in the first place. Apart from the fact that after all of the showbiz, the actual message of the ad is surprisingly hard to catch.

But NAB’s mistake is a bit different, and runs in line with a lot of other companies. Advertisers are learning the hard way that social networking, blogging included, has its own laws. Facebook has unwritten laws unto itself (but more on that another time). The focus of a blog is the writer and what they want to show the world; a violation of that is the online version of going to a birthday party and not speaking to the host. To have a generic, unrelated comment on a serious post is like an invasion of a private conversation, and is usually left to the likes of Viagra-hawking spammers. It reflects poorly on the brand and ruffles feathers. besides, blogs are not the most intuitive place to be promoting a mobile service…

No doubt they’ve learnt that lesson now.

Working on a few interesting projects at the moment. One is a research project looking at solving the confusion surrounding nutrition, the output of which is scaring me a little. Definitely going to look into Michael Pollon’s new book, In Defense of Food. (‘Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.’)

Also just finished a competition submission proposed by a jewellery retailer, asking how, as a generic product, diamonds should be branded. It’s an interesting one because as a promotional exercise for their company it is surely not a good idea to intrinsically link the idea that your products are generic with your brand, particularly in a context where the participants are considering the scenario at length. I’m no diamond expert, but I would still debate that diamonds are generic – apart from the four c’s there’s still design aspects and origin to consider.

And more for my own reference: a video of David Ogilvy here just because he’s cool.

Gruen Transfer is over for the year! Can’t wait to have the next season. Also will be hanging out for a DVD of The Hollowmen. Definitely the best Australian tv I’ve seen in a while.