March 22, 2010
For those who’ve been following Twitter closely this last week, you may have noticed an unusual number of your Twitter users bragging that they’ve:
“Just unlocked the ‘Swarm’ badge on @foursquare!”
Foursquare users can unlock this rare Swarm badge, by being one of 50 or more users to check into the same establishment at the same time. It should come as no surprise that a conference such as South by Southwest would be the perfect storm for such an occasion. Accomplishing this task outside of Austin’s SXSW conference, however, is far less likely. Steffan Antonas found one social media savvy business owner who took advantage of Foursquare’s appeal to drive swarms of people into his establishment
Earlier this month, the manager of a burger restaurant in Milwaukee used the location based social networking game to draw more than 150 customers on a Sunday afternoon. How, you may ask? “It’s all about the badges,” says Joe Sorge, manager of the capacity filled AJ Bombers in downtown Milwaukee. The event was marketed as a collective effort for local Milwaukee Foursquare users to work together in obtaining this rare badge. Although, Sorge gives credit to people’s desire for these badges, he also recognizes that it’s “about community and building something.”
Foursquare was not the only social media ingredient used in the AJ Bomber story. The event was organized as a Tweetup, first sent out solely through Twitter, and eventually grabbed hold with its own user generated Facebook page. Organic word-of-mouth played a major role in building the Swarm buzz. Sorge concludes, “we are, after all, a restaurant built by twitter and now made even more fun by foursquare.”
This should serve as a useful case study for other businesses, bars and restaurants especially, who are savvy enough to use social media in building their customer base. With Foursquare and Gowalla still in their infancy stages, there is enormous potential for these services to design new badges and honors created specifically for businesses to use as promotional material. Who then, will follow AJ Bomber’s lead?
Editor’s Note: This article was written by Zach Davis, an independent Internet marketer and consultant with a specialty in social media marketing, creative content production, and branding. He has a BBA in Marketing from the Wisconsin School of Business and currently works and lives in San Diego, CA. You can find Zach’s personal website at zrdavis.com or follow him on twitter @zrdavis.
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