Checking in to promote books: Foursquare vs. Get Glue
Last week I attended a Publishing Point talk with Foursquare co-founder @naveen. Foursquare is currently the most hyped of the location-based social networks that have been taking the social media world by storm these past few months: Google Latitude, Gowalla, Loopt and Whrll (among others, of course. I think I’ve discovered at least two more since starting to write this post a few days ago). LBS services are still in their infancy — Foursquare has two million users vs. 500+ million on Facebook — but they’re starting to command a lot of talk and thought (not to mention venture capital).
This is basically how Foursquare works:
1. You check in at various venues — your local coffee shop, a restaurant or a bar, the gym, your office, etc. (There’s an ongoing debate among users as to whether checking in to your home is kosher — or safe.)
2. You can leave tips at venues, e.g., “This restaurant has the most amazing Eggs Benedict known to man,” or “The line of treadmills closest to the check-in desk all slope upwards.”
3. Badges are awarded for the completion of various “tasks,” like checking in 25 places or checking in to the gym 10 times in a month. (Yes — of course I have the Gym Rat badge.)
4. The user who has patronized a location the most times in the past two months is designated as the “mayor.”
5. You can friend request others (and vice versa), but for privacy reasons, most users don’t have as many Foursquare friends as Facebook friends or Twitter followers.
At the talk last week, people naturally wondered if authors / publishers can use Foursquare to promote books. The answer is that there is no obvious way. (Which doesn’t mean it can’t be done, just that we’re going to need to do a lot of thinking to do it right.)
First off, if you want to even think about using Foursquare to promote a book, join. Now. And use it. Frequently. That’s the only way to understand the nature and spirit of the application. (You do need a smart phone to use the application, since that’s the only you can check in.)
Because Foursquare is all about where you are and what you’re doing, the candidates in the publishing industry who are in the best position to promote books in the spirit of the “game,” are bookstores. Many stores will offer discounts to users — at one point Starbucks, for example, offered a free frappucino to all mayors. Or Tasti-D-Lite offered a froyo for $.99 (regularly $3.99) to users who showed that they had checked in. I only found a couple bookstores (in New York City) that offer Foursquare discounts (although feel free to let me know if I’ve missed any):
Don’t be disappointed if I’ve burst your Foursquare bubble, because Get Glue is a similar application that is all about talking about your favorite book or author (or movie or music or website). (As with Fourquare, you can sign in to Get Glue with your Facebook account and you can also download the mobile app for your smartphone.) This NBC clip explains how Get Glue works.
Do you use Foursquare, Get Glue or other similar applications? How do you feel about using them (or not) to promote books?
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Fall 2012: I’ve really enjoyed writing about book publicity and meeting (0nline and in person) writers, publicists, editors, agents and others in the publishing industry, but I’ve — reluctantly — come to the conclusion that I just don’t have the time to maintain this blog.
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For some time now, I’ve closely followed a lot of very informative sites about media and about the publishing industry. Since I find myself quite voluble at times about issues that pertain to my job in the publicity department at a large publishing house, I thought I’d set up a book publicity blog. The purpose of this blog is provide tips, primarily, but also information about publishing / marketing trends that will help book publicists — and hopefully others in media and publishing — do our jobs with greater ease and efficiency. Please note that the opinions expressed on this blog are my own, not those of my company.
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