Should Campaign’s Use FourSquare?
Ah FourSquare.* Am I obsessed? Perhaps. Every restaurant, movie theatre, and airport my girlfriend and I visit turns into a battle of “who will check-in first”. But besides the grandeur of winning badges, is FourSquare worth engaging in for a political campaign? It’s a question I was asked last week at a TechGOP event in Austin, and my inspiration for this post.
Let me begin with a disclaimer: None of my clients are using FourSquare, or even have “ghost-check-iners”, although both are something I have thought about pushing. I’m sure many fellow Tech-Republicans would share my frustration: JUST after we were able to convince campaigns and candidates that Twitter was a powerful message tool not to be avoided, here we sit trying to explain another popular medium.
Large, energetic campaigns (Meg Whitman, Ron Johnson, Marco Rubio, etc.) could potentially use the tool effectively by setting up their HQ as a location, and asking volunteers to check-in when they stop by, perhaps rewarding them with a t-shirt if they do so. This would not only show grassroots support for their campaign, but would buy into the reward-system that volunteers really enjoy. Heck, “super-volunteers” could even battle for Mayor of the HQ, and enjoy a special office privilege for keeping their Mayorship.
Another potential use: setting up locations on a statewide tour, or rally and encouraging the press, and activists to follow the candidate across the district. (I could see this being used well in early 2012 primary states.)
A potential issue (and one I sympathize with) are concerns of privacy. If a candidate is using FourSquare to the degree that many of us activists do, they’d be checking-in to restaurants, airports, and even their local gym. All places where they are likely not wishing to be bombarded by the press taking unflattering photos, issues us average Joe’s don’t have to deal with.
FourSquare’s addictive. How do I know? Because I am addicted to it. Even if I am 5 miles closer to another Chipotle, I will travel to the one I am Mayor of to be able to check-in and retain my Mayorship, and I’ve got news for you: I am not the only one. Businesses are catching onto FourSquare, but it seems with mixed results. The other day I stopped by a frozen yogurt place in New York City that offered 10% off simply for showing the cashier that you had checked in there. Genius! But when I asked the cashier about how the promotion was going, he told me they only received 1 or 2 users a day.
Perhaps naturally this problem will be solved as more and more users join the FourSquare bandwagon, but it left me more resolute than ever that FourSquare just wasn’t worth trying to work into a campaign plan….not YET at least.
Earlier I wrote on “Facebook’s permanent place in politics” , but I think the verdict’s still out on FourSquare’s permanent place in society, let alone politics. That said, I am completely on board with and agree with Jordan Raynor’s petition, and encourage you to sign it if you haven’t yet.
Would love to get thoughts in the comment section, how would you suggest using geo-location in a campaign? Is it worth engaging?
*For the simplicity of this post I chose not to mention Austin-based Gowalla, although they also have a fairly sizeable user base, including my Governor, Rick Perry.