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Kari Rippetoe

HOW TO: Use Foursquare for a Conference (or an Exhibit Booth)
Posted by: Kari Rippetoe
Monday, June 7th, 2010

Tuvel Communications is the online PR firm for the NAB Show, and in addition to being the “voice” behind the show’s social media outposts (Twitter, Facebook pages, LinkedIn group), we also devised and implemented creative pre-show and on-site social media promotions to engage attendees, drive registrations and generate excitement.

This year Foursquare became a major player in the social media game, and although we did not implement a full-scale location-based program, we did monitor how people were using Foursquare at the show, plus we came up with a last minute on-site contest that utilized the geo-location social network. What we learned was quite interesting and makes all of us here at Tuvel very excited about the possibilities Foursquare presents for the event marketing and conference business(s).

What did we do?

  • We created a Foursquare page for the NAB Show using the address of the Las Vegas Convention Center, where it takes place every year. Here’s how to do this:
    1. Log in to Foursquare, or create an account if you don’t have one already. If you don’t have a smartphone, that’s OK – you can still create an account without it.
    2. Set your location to the city where the event is taking place.
    3. Click on Add Things at the top of the page.
    4. Click on Add a New Venue.
  • We came up with a last-minute contest to drive traffic to a particular session (namely, a session called “In Conversation With: Stan Lee”, moderated by comedian and G4 Channel personality Chris Hardwick). We wanted attendees to check in to the session for a chance to win a copy of “The Amazing Spider-Man” comic book, autographed by creator Stan Lee himself. So, we created a Foursquare page by following the steps above and including all the pertinent details for the session (session name, event name, room number) in the Name field. We then promoted the contest the morning of the session via Twitter, Facebook and a post on the official NAB Show Blog.

Foursquare Page - NAB Show Stan Lee Session
What did we learn?I mentioned earlier that throughout the show, we were monitoring how attendees were using Foursquare on-site. We found that in addition to people checking in through the show page we created, others were creating their own NAB Show pages on Foursquare and checking in through those. We also found that some exhibitors had created Foursquare pages for their own booths, using the same method outlined above (they used their company names and booth numbers in the Name fields).

I recently talked about our use of Foursquare in a discussion on the Engage 365 Community, and a great comment was made by John Barber that “the more event Foursquare pages that are added by your method, the longer becomes the flat list of places that all come up at the venue’s main geo-location.” This is a great point, and I would certainly not say our implementation method was in any way foolproof. This, however, is more attributable to the limits of the tool itself. When it comes to Foursquare’s use at conferences, it’s definitely not ready for prime time (although I hope to see that change soon).

As for our Stan Lee session contest, we garnered a grand total of 15 check-ins. Considering that it was a last-minute guerilla marketing tactic with literally a morning’s worth of marketing to promote it and where we were basically experimenting with Foursquare’s use at an individual conference session, I would say it worked pretty well.

Have you ever seen Foursquare used (or used it yourself) for event marketing? What were the results and how did you gauge them?

Posted with the permission of Mitch Arnowitz | Originally posted @

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