Apps, Branding, Digital, Gamification, Marketing, Mobile, Social Media

Some Hairy Promotion

I once suffered from an infinite app curiosity mania, probably related to the fact that being in the news business I felt that I had to be on top of all news and trends. One of those adventures early-adopting apps, took me to Foursquare, as defined by Wired Magazine: “a once-hyped social media company, known for gamifying mobile check-ins and giving recommendations”.

So I’m one of those users that defied the critics and contributed my location with regularity.  I am not going to deny it, sometimes I recognized that I was providing valuable information to someone that wanted to robbed me.  By constantly checking in everywhere, I was telling the bad guys when I wasn’t home… especially when I was out of town. But I never found the right moment to delete the app.

Maybe I was too curious to see a coworker that used Foursquare to check in places, twice or sometimes three times a day during working hours, when everybody else had to be in the office.  Maybe I was too addicted to the positive reinforcement of the gamification part, or I loved receiving instant discounts every time I used the app to do a check-in at the airport. I remember the free dessert I once got in Terminal H when I had just checked in Terminal C.  It was a long but sweet detour.

I was very invested in my Foursquare badges, and I even survived the introduction of the Swarm Mobile App.  Apparently nothing could get in the middle of me, and my Foursquare.


Why? Because Foursquare just knew my location but never really knew me.

One day, I stopped by a pharmacy and did my usual check-in.  I was surprised to see that I had received an instant promotion.  If I was to purchase two deodorants of the brand that I liked, I was going to receive a special gift.  So I showed the promotion to the sales representative, and he went to get the gift for me. To my surprise, it was a big jar of hair gel, a new product that was being introduced to the market.

If you don’t know me personally, and you are just reading this, you probably would ask what’s wrong with gel?  So it’s important to know that I’ve been bald for the past 10 years of my life.

You probably don’t need to know that, but a social media tool, in the age of smartphones, and social media in general needs to know that a big jar of hair gel is not a product you offer to a bald guy.  For the first time that day, I felt used, and thought that Foursquare was just interested in following me, not knowing me. That day: the app was gone from my phone and never returned.

Hence the reason machine learning programmers need to start putting more effort in facial (and in this case head) recognition technology, combine it with great social selling tools that provide valuable insights to brands that want to personalize their offerings.  Average promotions for average customers have their days counted.

Just when I was starting to feel guilty for Foursquare, I read that Wired magazine article I mentioned earlier.  It’s written by one of my favorite technology and trends writer Paris Martineau, and just the title resumes my exact feeling: “You May Have Forgotten Foursquare, but it didn’t forget you”

As she explains in the article, it turns out Foursquare is not gone and is now a location-data giant that powers other applications such as Twitter and Uber, to name a few, and now they describe themselves as “The Trusted Location Data & Intelligence Company” in their own website.

And to think that I contributed my valuable information, until everything change.  Just because of a revealing promotion that turned our relationship hairy.

Photo by Marco D’Emilia on Unsplash

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