by Michael Loban
|photo credit: tbo.com|
This title is way too long, but since I did fit in 140 characters, it is not bad for an opinion piece on social media. Just like Steve Jobs said in his Stanford University Commencement speech, ”Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That’s it. No big deal. Just three stories.”
About six-eight months ago, I was browsing through the pictures of a drooling bulldog swimming in a Jacuzzi that my cousin posted on Facebook to keep me away from doing actual work at work. At some point, I noticed a message from one of my Facebook friends about how proud he was to become the Mayor of the Hamilton County jail. Truth be told, back then I did not use Foursquare, and my instant reply was whether he needed bail money. The light-bulb moment came to me when I realized how proud people started to become about being Mayors of cool places, and receiving badges for sharing where they go every day. In fact, you can say a lot about a person when you look at their Foursquare activity. I wonder what one might say about my history of check-ins just a few nights ago:
• 7:00pm Starbucks, where I finally became a Mayor
• 11:15pm Fed-Ex Kinko’s
• 6:00am Lifetime Fitness
• 7:30am Panera
• 8:00am Kenwood Towers
Before we make any conclusions about the lack of my social life, let me jump to another story. Just a few weeks ago, I was teaching a class on Social Media marketing at the Indiana-Wesleyan University where Brandon B. happens to be a Mayor. After the class, we had an avid discussion, and students were trying to come up with a list of social media marketing strategies to promote local businesses. At some point, one of the attendees made an intriguing observation: “It is just like selling vacuum cleaners.” At first I did not get the analogy. Jim has admitted to not reading blogs, avoiding Facebook, Twitter and everything else that social media has to offer, but he shared an interesting story of how several decades ago he was working for his grandfather selling vacuum cleaners door-to-door. Jim’s grandfather has always said that the work of a door-to-door salesperson is not to sell to every person in the community, but to work on building relationships with 2-3 families that would love the product and/or service so much that they themselves would sell it to their neighbors. Needless to say, this is exactly what many high-profiled social media thought leaders will tell you – work on cultivating relationships with people that like your products and services, help them talk about your brand, monitor their activity across social media channels and reward them for helping you.
My third story is about getting free desserts for being awesome. My gym is located quite close to a great Italian restaurant Carrabba’s, and every time I visit my gym I am tempted to skip the workout and go straight for pasta. A few weeks ago, just when I was about to check-in to my gym (I am three check-ins shy from receiving a much respected Gym Rat Foursquare badge), I saw that Carrabba’s is running a special. Apparently, if you become a Mayor of Carrabba’s, you get a free dessert. Pretty cool if you ask me. So if you like the restaurant, and you go there every time, they start to like you back. Now this might not be the best type of promotion, but you get the message. Foursquare allows organizations to recognize who their biggest fans are, and reward them. Now, the next time I am in the mall, I will look at my Foursquare application, and I will try to find a store that will reward me for going there and checking-in.
Needless to say, I did become a Mayor of the Carrabba’s restaurant for a brief period of time. And when the question came-up of where I should take my parents for dinner, I naturally chose Carrabba’s. My parents, who still are trying to figure out how to text, were very impressed that at the end of the meal, I showed my cell with a Mayor badge to a waiter, and all of us were treated to a free dessert.
And maybe, just maybe, very soon I will be able to become the Mayor of the Jewish Federation, and Shep himself will treat my family to a free round of latkes, and my parents will know for sure that I have actually made something of myself.