Getting Socially Mobile at BDI

As Director of Interactive Branding at BRANDEMiX, I attended the Mobile Social Communications 2011 conference, presented by the Business Development Institute. This fascinating event featured both case studies and roundtable discussions about how brands are achieving their business goals by using mobile social strategies and new mobile platforms in their marketing campaigns.

For those who couldn’t make it, I’ll recap the highlights. There were some very cool insights, important lessons, and fun facts that I’d like to pass along.


Corcoran and Foursquare: Check Out A Neighborhood Before You Move In

Matthew Shadbolt from the Corcoran Group started things off.  His real estate company’s goal: going “beyond the four walls” in providing apartment information. Since the most important part of real estate is location, Corcoran partnered with Foursquare to provide New York City neighborhood tips, submitted by residents, to help homebuyers determine if a particular area was right for them. This would let homebuyers “shop like a local, find hidden dining gems for restaurants, [and] seek out local deals and coupons.” Shadbolt made clear that this information was aimed not at tourists but at residents and newcomers. Many real estate sites show you what it’s like to live in a particular house; Corcoran now shows you what it’s like when you step outside.

The lesson: Foursquare wasn’t designed with real estate in mind, but Corcoran saw the potential in combining local reviews and apartment shopping. I’m sure that a number of real estate companies, especially in New York, will follow Corcoran’s lead.

Fun fact: According to the National Association of Realtors, 90% of people start their home search online, “months before speaking to an agent.”


American Express OPEN: Promoting Small Business Over Thanksgiving Weekend

Laura Fink from American Express OPEN showed us how the company is reaching out to small businesses. AmEx created Small Business Saturday, a movement to make the Saturday after Thanksgiving a day of patronizing local, brick-and-mortar businesses. Fink pointed out that Black Friday is for the big box retailers, and Cyber Monday is for online stores, but no one is championing the mom-and-pop shops, which are especially vulnerable in this economy. SBS was promoted through a website and Facebook Page. The first Small Business Saturday, last year, brought a significant increase in sales to small businesses, and American Express is hoping to keep the momentum this year. It’s a great idea—and how many corporations have created a national holiday?

The lesson: Since any American Express cardmember who spends at least $25 on Small Business Saturday also earns a $25 statement credit, the card company is backing up its message with actual savings. American Express, consumers, and small business owners all win.

Fun fact: 41 elected officials, including New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, declared November 27, 2010, Small Business Saturday.


Foursquare and RadioShack: Rewarding Users For Checking In Somewhere Else

Not surprisingly, Foursquare came up frequently at this conference on mobile social media. Here, Eric Freidman talked about RadioShack’s Holiday Hero campaign during Christmas 2010. A month before the big day, users could earn the badge by checking in at two “Holiday Hotspots”: gyms (where superheroes stay fit), coffee shops (where they recharge), and transit locations (“where they can zoom to unknown destinations”). Anyone who unlocked the Holiday Hero badge received 20% off their RadioShack purchase. This marked the first time a retailer had issued a badge that led to a store discount. RadioShack has embraced Foursquare for some time: mayors of individual RadioShack stores receive a 20% discount, while just checking in gets users a discount of 10%.

The lesson: I think this is a perfect example of “gamification,” using game-design techniques to engage consumers. Lots of businesses offer discounts for users who check in, but RadioShack rewarded users for checking in to places other than RadioShack. This shows just how compelling game mechanics can be.

Fun fact: During the Holiday Hero promotion, Foursquare users spent 350% more at RadioShack than the average customer, making the campaign was a heroic success.

I’ll have to save the other informative speakers for another post. Thanks to the Business Development Institute’s Special Events Coordinator Jennifer Brous, Director of Events Maria Feola-Magro, and CEO Steve Etzler for a great event.

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