Foursquare’s Starbucks Mistake: Five Ways Foursquare Advertising Is Getting Less Interesting

Foursquare screenshotFoursquare, the geolocation social tool, has been a media darling as of late.  Not only is it growing, but people innately understand the monetization model, which is not something you can say about every social site and tool.  As people “check in,” or report where they are to their networks, Foursquare serves them offers from nearby businesses.  It’s a win-win-win situation: Businesses can market to people who are able to immediately take action; Foursquare earns revenue; and users get valuable offers they can use.

But Starbucks’ current program on Foursquare may kill the goose that lays the golden eggs (or at least demonstrate how that goose may die a slow, lingering death of neglect).  I believe (and I’m curious if you agree) that Starbucks’ ubiquity combined with the offer’s difficult redemption is decreasing attention for Foursquare’s other offers.  If other large chains follow suit with similar promotions, those “Special Nearby” tabs within Foursquare’s mobile apps won’t get as much notice, and that means problems for advertisers on the Foursquare platform.

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People Don’t Buy What You Do, They Buy WHY You Do It

Two days ago I created a blog post entitled, "Leadership And Self-Deception And Social Media." In it, I suggested that the thing that separates success from mediocrity "isn’t how we do what we do, but who we are as we do it ... What determines how a brand’s actions create or destroy rapport (in social media) isn’t just what it does -- there is no magic social media 'to do' checklist -- but who the brand is and what it stands for."

Today I had the good fortune to spend 18 minutes with a wonderful TED presentation by Simon Sinek, author of "Start With Why," which shares Sinek's theory of effective leadership. His words are quite inspiring, and the ideas he conveys are so similar to the ones I included in my last blog post that I wanted to share this thoughtful video with you.

Sinek has studied great leaders and notes "All the great and inspiring leaders ... think, act and communicate the exact same way." That's a pretty bold statement, and he illustrates it using companies such as Apple and people including Martin Luther King and the Wright brothers. He notes that great leaders don't work from the outside in but from the inside out -- they start with Why and not What. 

And what does this mean to marketers? Sinek contends (quite convincingly) that great brands do the same. In the end, "People don't buy what you do; people buy why you do it." 

I hope I whetted your appetite to spend 18 minutes with this terrific TED Talk:

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Leadership And Self-Deception And Social Media

Five years ago I read a book that changed my life:  Leadership and Self-Deception by the Arbinger Institute, an organization dedicated to helping people, organizations, and communities solve problems created by self-deception. It had such a powerful impact on the way I see myself and others that I have since purchased more than ten copies for employees and friends, and I recently gave it my third rereading. 

Although the book is about personal and organizational improvement and not marketing, a recent experience with my mobile provider made me appreciate how the lessons in “Leadership and Self-Deception” apply to social media.  One of the insights in this book is that behaviors are not as important as who we are. Organizations and people can do the same set of behaviors and get disparate outcomes; the difference isn’t how we do what we do, but who we are as we do it. Nowhere is this more true than in social media.

One way of being is to recognize people as people and the other is to see people as obstacles and objects. The first way of being encourages us to connect with people and do right by them, and the latter causes us to treat people as tasks that must be disposed of as efficiently as possible.  Because people primarily respond not to what we do but to how we’re being, the difference in these two approaches is the difference between an antagonistic relationship seeded with distrust and a collaborative relationship of mutual benefit.  Which type of relationship does your brand want with its customers?

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