Today’s post is about the irrelevancy of Foursquare. Remember when it was all the rage? Back in 2009, Foursquare debuted with the public at large and “checking-in” caught on as the big trend in social media apps. I remember when all of my marketing peers jumped on Foursquare and were happily on their way checking-in everywhere they went. Well, Foursquare didn’t fool me. I wasn’t ready to give up my privacy and show off to my network or the world where I was and what I was doing. Talk about a loss of privacy!
Check-ins were such a shallow idea to begin with. I could never understand what attracted people to need or want to share everywhere they went. The problem was Foursquare never developed its “checking-in” functionality into something more compelling, like what else would I want to be sharing with people now that I’ve checked-in? The oysters I just ate and am now puking?
The social utility of checking-in is tied to the act of discovery and Foursquare is desperately trying to remake itself into a discovery app. But guess what? They are a little late to the game. Apps like Yelp and Groupon already help users find great deals on all kinds of products. And let’s face it. Checking-in is a drag. You can check-in via Facebook. Why do I need to check-in via Foursquare? At some point, when does checking-in become a boring, uninteresting event? Even marketers whom I know on Facebook are not using the checking-in feature much. It’s simple. Who cares?
Foursquare also split into two apps back in 2014 and by all accounts it was the worst decision the company ever made. The new Foursquare is trying to branch out and become a Yelp-like recommendation service, suggesting places based in part where your friends have checked-in. The new Foursquare focuses on those recommendations and moves the check-in part to a separate app, called Swarm. I haven’t used Swarm and why the hell should I?
Some people still use Foursquare and like the recommendations feature. If you’re not happy with Yelp, go back to Foursquare, I suppose. Yelp, for the most part, has never steered me wrong so I don’t see why I would abandon it. Foursquare has entered into a partnership with Twitter and is supplying its data to the company allowing Twitter to beef up its own location-based functionality. That’s probably one of the reasons why Foursquare is still alive as a company. Foursquare used to offer discount coupons to places when you checked-in. That’s gone the way of the dinosaur. But the company primarily makes money off of selling your keystrokes and transaction data to all of its advertisers.
In all honesty, Facebook helped kill Foursquare. The audience of one billion plus is where the action resides. And let’s face it. There are so many other compelling apps to be messing around with. Why are you wasting time on Foursquare?
Helping community managers and social media marketers curate, share and create content
Let’s face it. Scaling social media is hard for both B2B and B2C players. Driving greater levels of engagement (and ultimately sales) remains an uphill battle for many, in particular, those in eCommerce. A number of major brands over the past two years have opened and then shuddered their Facebook shops, including J.C. Penney, Nordstrom, Gap, and GameStop. For marketers trying to gauge what a like, a share, or a comment ultimately signifies, the first stop is collecting this data. The next stop is generating the content that will speak to their audience. A few enterprise SaaS players want to help brands better leverage their social media muscle and one of them is Rallyverse.
Rallyverse is the brainchild of a few ex-Microsoft employees, all of whom worked in the ad/tech industry but shared an itch to make improvements in the way social media can influence advertising. I got the opportunity to try out Rallyverse and according to Gabe Bevilacqua, co-founder and VP, Biz Dev, “we let the brand define where they want to play and expand the reach of what they are doing with just a few clicks.” For community managers and social media marketers, Rallyverse (a Twitter-certified partner) aims to keep track of all of your owned and paid social media by helping you curate, respond, and post more relevant, engaging content to your target audience. It seeks to provide users with a dashboard of real-time recommendations so you’re never again stuck with the question, “What do I say today?”
Rallyverse takes a page from Pinterest’s groundbreaking tile platform
When you first login to your account, you’re immediately struck by the platform’s similarity to Pinterest, with tiles stacking up on top of each other. Images are vital components for triggering your levels of engagement and Gabe acknowledges Pinterest’s lead in promoting the tile format. Rallyverse examines your sources of content (such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter) in order to assign it a certain score. Using its own proprietary algorithm, it will serve up a baseline of recommended content based on your criteria. Under SETTINGS, in the left-hand column, you provide select keywords, categories, influencers, including those topics you don’t want Rallyverse to search for.
In my case, I focused on keywords such as content marketing, social media marketing, and social media technology. Rallyverse will curate content from any of the sites and services where you post content. In this case, that would include YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, and your own personal feed from your blog. You can also enter the RSS, Atom, or XML feeds for any site and Rallyverse will add relevant content from those sites to your profile.
Users can set publishing frequencies (for example, one post every 60 minutes), and then can schedule individual messages for what Rallyverse calls “Optimized Publishing.” Within each time window, the platform will evaluate each eligible message and publish the one that is most relevant at that time.
Once you’ve entered all of your essential criteria for the content you want tracked, you click on the Rallyverse blue button and let the fun begin.
Capturing trending content
Rallyverse will populate your content within seconds. In reviewing each tile, you have an opportunity to thumb it up or down (thumbing it down will cause the tile to disappear from view), and Rallyverse provides its own “star-rating” for each tile of content. According to Gabe, its unique algorithm interprets each piece of content for you, the user, creating the star rating. The more stars highlighted, the more relevant the content is for you.
Inside a tile is a camera icon, which when you click on it, opens up, allowing you to repost it, make revisions to the content itself (including image), schedule a new delivery time for the content, or even turn it into a paid ad. You can also save it as a draft and revisit it at a later date. Rallyverse will also automatically shorten URLs for you (when tweeting, for example). It will also add hashtags automatically for you.
Rallyverse features a separate Conversations topic, which when you click on it will show you what social media you’ve posted has been retweeted or shared by one of your Twitter followers, including responses to your Tweets. It will document any Facebook interactions you’re having, including likes, comments, and shares.
One feature that I particularly liked was the ICYMI topic. ICYMI stands for “in case you missed it.” When a tile is tagged ICYMI, it means Rallyverse has determined it met a minimum click threshold (again, based on its own proprietary algorithm), and will bring it back to your attention. This certainly can help community managers and marketers understand what forms of content are more effective than others in generating engagement. Gabe told me that his company’s clients very much appreciate ICYMI as it constantly acts as reminder of just how much you need to nurture your social media content in order to help it grow and spread.
A feature I couldn’t take full advantage (being only a single user) was the parent/child relationships that Ralleyverse created to facilitate better social media scaling. The platform allows organizations to scale their social media efforts by sharing content for publishing between different users and Profiles. Child profiles can publish content that is shared by parent profiles as well as their own recommendations.
Reports – how can you track social media engagement without analytics?
What would a social media platform be without any analytics reporting? Once you’ve connected your Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts, you get the opportunity to review just what types of action were recorded once you’ve begun posting and sharing content.
Rallyverse currently goes back no more than two months when reviewing your owned content. It provides you with a graph, summarizing all of your channel’s engagement. Rallyverse details your click percentage by hour. This means the percentage of total clicks that were recorded for a post that took place in a particular hour. Establishing a percentage based on the volume of clicks seems a bit off to me and Gabe said Rallyverse’s platform is currently displaying clicks an hour early so you’re not getting an up to the minute exact summary of your actual clicks. This is something Rallyverse is looking to fix. However, you easily get to see a good overview of each one of your posts and their levels of engagement. You can select a 30-day report, which easily exports into a CRV file.
Is there room for improvement?
Rallyverse is far from perfect. There were a few minor annoyances for me, including the listing of messages underneath my profile that are published by the platform, which confused me. It continues to finely tune both its algorithm and the way it delivers metrics reporting. It also is currently missing additional social media channels for integration into its platform, like StumbleUpon or Reddit, for example. Gabe told me that there are plans to bring on additional social channels but that decision is heavily influenced by client demand. Its platform will undoubtedly continue to evolve as users require more sophisticated metrics that incorporate a greater degree of sentiment analysis. Overall, all of the features I could use worked. I truly got a kick out of watching what content got tweeted or shared and for a spell, I completely forgot about Tweetdeck.
Social media engagement: the never-ending quest for results
Rallyverse is not the only enterprise-level social media engagement platform on the market. Competitors like Percolate and HereSaySocial offer similar features though the technologies may differ. For Gabe, the elusive quest for the ROI of social media marketing makes creating Rallyverse a meaningful step forward. In his words, “I’m constantly surprised by how much our platform seems to understand the pulse of social conversations as they are happening. We’re making sense of the social media noise and doing it in a way that makes it easier for users to consume it. I get a thrill and surprise by our product each and every day.”
Overall, I very much enjoyed Rallyverse’s ease of use and look forward to keeping track of its development. Pricing begins at $500 a month. Request a demo of Rallyverse and let me know what you think.
Yes, if there was one overriding message from last night’s San Francisco Blog Club Meetup at Fort Mason, it was dare to be snarky, witty, and just plain weird when you’re using social media to promote and share your content. The ubiquitous Murray Newlands, organizer of the Journalists’ Secrets to Sharable Content: CBS, SF Gate, Techwire & Others, put together another stellar line-up, including Techwire Columnist and former FCC and CPUC Commissioner, Rachelle Chong, Storify Cofounder & former journalist, Burt Herman, SFGate Social Lead, Jeff Elder, CBS San Francisco Editor and SF Gate columnist, Beth Spotswood, and Technorati Associate Editor Andre Bourque.
Unique, original content is the currency of social media
Burt Herman made it clear that the easiest way to fail at social media marketing/communications is to be too derivative. It’s the material that has the strongest emotional content that will cause content to go viral. Rachelle chimed in saying how most of the content she writes for her audience is fairly mundane but it’s the “quirky stuff” she posts that causes Web traffic to spike at Techwire. Case in point was a “speed dating” article Rachelle wrote back in May detailing the matchmaking efforts of the San Francisco Citizens Initiative for Technology and Innovation that organized a get together of fifty small businesses who met up with 50 tech companies based in San Francisco for the sake of helping the small business community thrive as new customers.
Beth Spotswood says she tries to entertain “people who are bored at work.” One of the ways she does it is by taking a more “witty” approach to her blog posts on SFGate.com. She cited her experience posing as a tourist and writing a series of blog posts on the experience of visiting tourist traps in San Francisco. Just how important is a title for your blog post? Beth said she was ready to go with the title: “top 5 leading favorite tourist traps” but on a whim changed it to: “What’s your Least Favorite SF Tourist Experience.” The blog post received more than 150 comments, a sure fire sign of positive social media engagement. Make sure you post compelling photos, added Beth.
What goes viral?
Anybody recall NPR’s Scott Simon and his tweeting about his mother’s passing? His 1.2 million Twitter followers went apoplectic with empathy driving his tweets around the twitter universe and helping him and NPR garner more than 40,600,000 page results in Google (try searching using the keywords “Scott Simon mother” for yourself.) Personally, I think it was in poor taste. Nothing appears to be sacred in American culture. And those Americans who complain about a lack of privacy should just shut-up. But I digress. 🙂
Burt Herman mentioned, in a plug for Storify, that a lot of people used his platform to promote Simon’s grieving. In understanding what makes content go viral, Jeff Elder said crafting a Tweet is like writing a headline. And the queen of Twitter headlines? Why none other than Penelopy Trunk, the “Jane Austin of Twitter,” according to Elder. Penelopy can literally spend hours on crafting the perfect tweet. Personally, Penelopy never much appealed to me as I found her too neurotic a personality to follow. But who cares? She’s got more than 100,000 Twitter followers; she’s an entrepreneur and founded three startups.
It was the single Pinterest pin that launched a company, according to Andre Bourque, and if you haven’t read this story it’s time you do. Rodworks.com saw sales of its frame rods skyrocket when it opened up its online store as a result of one single blog post by Country Girl Home. Blog owner, Lindsay, featured a photo of a sofa table she personally made. It was pinned hundreds of times, not because of the sofa table but because of the frame rod on the back of the wall. Just goes to show you. Virality can never be predicted just A/B tested.
Crossing the Han Solo
One more note about the importance of titles when crafting your social media content. Bert Herman reminded listeners of the terrific post back in 2007 by AP writer, BO-MI LIM about the tightrope walkers who came from around the world to walk across South Korea’s Han River to see who could walk across it the fastest. The title of Lim’s post: Skywalkers in Korea Cross Han Solo certainly helped it to go viral and get covered across the Web.
There you have it. Weirdness, creativity, snarky, witty, these are the hallmarks of social media virality. If you want to share with me other examples, please do so in the comments.
I’m the founder and president of BGordon Consulting. I worked for more than five years at SEO-PR, a boutique digital marketing/PR firm in San Francisco. I specialize in and offer SEO, content marketing, social media marketing, social media consulting, link building, YouTube video marketing, digital public relations, Web analytics, and blogging services.
Some examples of my consulting work include the creation of the SES YouTube Conference channel for client Incisive Media and the drafting of blog content for client, Cengage Learning. For five years, I promoted the North American SES conference series, including Chicago, New York, Toronto, and San Francisco. I also promoted SES London. I generated tier #1 coverage for SES in such publications as Entrepreneur, Wall Street Journal, VentureBeat, About.com, SF Business Times, and the Chicago Sun-Times, to name but a few.