Thursday, February 27, 2014

Foursquare for Professionals: 4 Easy Steps to Take Control of an Online Presence You May Not Even Know You Have

By Sarah Larson

My campaign for mayorship of my neighborhood is flagging, but I am still the mayor of The Larder, in Doylestown, our favorite condo in Ocean City, MD, The Blacktail Meadows Kids Fish Pond in Dillon, MT, and, of course, the Furia Rubel office.

No, I’m not talking about an actual elected office.

I am “mayor” of all those places on Foursquare, the location-based social networking app. You may not have heard of it, but your clients have – and they may already be on it talking about your firm without you.

That is enough reason for us here at Furia Rubel to advise our clients to get to know social networks beyond Facebook and Twitter. Public discourse takes place online in today’s world, and even if you’re not part of the conversation on a particular platform – yet – you need to know what other people are saying.

More than 45 million people use Foursquare, the company said in January 2014. That is phenomenal growth from the network’s birth in March 2009, when founders Dennis Crowley and Naveen Selvadurai launched it at South by Southwest Interactive in Austin, Texas.

More than 1.5 million businesses already are marketing themselves on Foursquare, claiming their listings, offering specials to customers, and using check-in information to glean insights into where their customers are coming from. The goal: ensuring that those customers come back.

So what is Foursquare? After downloading the mobile app, people use their mobile devices to “check in” to the places they visit. Picking up the dry cleaning? Whip out your phone and check in. Stopping at the grocery store? There’s another check in. Grabbing a latte at the coffee shop? Check in again. For a primer on all the things you can do, check out Foursquare 101.

You might be asking why anyone would do this. What’s the point?

When I first started using Foursquare in 2010, it was mostly for fun. Competitive by nature, I was attracted to the ability to earn points and “badges” by performing specific tasks. On Nov. 6, 2012, I checked in at my local polling place and earned the “I Voted 2012” badge. On April 7, 2013, I snagged the “Super Swarm” badge when I (along with more than 250 other people) checked into Citizens Bank Park to watch the Phillies play the Kansas City Royals. On Feb. 24, 2014, I earned the “Navigator” badge when I checked in to the National Air and Space Museum.

Foursquare is still fun for me and the millions of other people who use it daily. From cupcake shops to craft breweries, customers are checking in, earning badges, sharing photos and leaving tips for others. But today, I actually use Foursquare to shape my behavior – read: I use it to decide where to go, what to see and do, and how to spend my money.

On a recent trip to Washington D.C., I opened up Foursquare to search for a restaurant near my hotel. I checked the ratings and tips left by previous Foursquare users and ended up at a sushi joint a few blocks’ walk away.

Because of its interactive, public nature, Foursquare is most useful for retail and entertainment venues that court customer foot traffic. Professional service providers such as lawyers and accountants may be tempted to ignore Foursquare, assuming it doesn’t readily apply to them.

While we don’t advise professional providers to devote much time and effort to Foursquare marketing at this time, we do advise firms to take control of their Foursquare listings now. Remember, anyone can create a Foursquare listing for any location. A law firm client may already have created a Foursquare listing for your office so he or she can check in there. That is part of your online presence, and you should be in control of the information that appears there, to the fullest extent possible.

If you’re a professional service provider who is new to Foursquare, here’s what you should do:

1. From a desktop computer, visit the Foursquare website  and search for your business name and location. If someone already has created a listing for your business, click on the “select” button. If not, you can add it by clicking on the link at the bottom.

2. Enter your phone number to receive a call to verify your ownership of the listing; when the call comes in, provide the information requested.

3. You don't need to pay $20 for an expedited verification; check the box for Foursquare to send you the verification by mail for free.

4. Once you have control of your listing, add a photo and list important information, including a description of your business, your address and phone number, the hours that your office is open, and a link to your website.

As with all social media, remember that ethics rules govern what lawyers, financial advisors and other professionals can and cannot – or should and should not – say on public platforms. Taking control of your Foursquare listing, however, is a safe and easy step to protect your company’s brand online. And once you start using Foursquare personally, you may find out you like it.

Just don’t try to take my mayorship.

Monday, February 17, 2014

The 2014 Winter Olympics – Connected and Going Viral from Russia

By Rose Strong

Are you watching the Winter Olympics? I am.

Despite all the security issues, environmental problems and the equality controversy along with other issues that have swirled through the media these past weeks leading up to the 2014 Games, I’m an enthusiastic couch potato. I am in awe of these athletes who put everything they have into their vision of winning in an Olympic sport.

Some may think I view an inordinate amount of the games. When they’re on and I’m awake, my TV is on and I’m watching or at the very least, listening. If I’m on Facebook, I’m connected to the network carrying the events and can read what’s happening in somewhat real time. Even when asleep, I’m getting push notifications sent to me through the night from an app on my phone. I wake up seeing messages about the results as they happened while I was in a deep slumber.

Social media has transformed our lives, not least of which is the way we get our news. News events, sports results and weather updates come much faster than ever before. So, it comes as no surprise the events at an international location such as the Sochi Olympics would be broadcast via social media channels. If you’re a fan like I am, you need to beware of spoiler alerts!

London was said to be the Twitter Olympics while the Sochi Games are being described as the viral Olympics in this article from USAToday. Did you catch that face of Ashley Wagner when she was given her score last weekend during the team event? Well, it’s gone viral around the globe.

Not only are journalists using Twitter to send messages out at the games, but the athletes themselves are keeping in touch with their family, friends and fans. Speak another language? Don’t despair! For those athletes trying to send out tweets in other languages, a translation company from Israel is willing to do it for you in an hour! One Hour Translation is offering to translate tweets into any one of 75 languages.

As a big fan of skating, I was watching U.S. figure skater Jason Brown performing his short program. Although he has not won a medal individually, (he’s only 19, so he’ll be back) he’s won the hearts of the audience. Brown entered the Olympics as a viral personality on social media with his U.S. Championship Riverdance routine hitting more than 3 million views in ten days.

There seems to be some humorous commentary over skaters’ hair during these broadcasts, as Brown has a ponytail and Canadian figure skater, Kevin Reynolds wears his locks in a sort of bed-head style. Both have Twitter accounts. Wait, maybe that’s not clear enough. Both hair styles have Twitter accounts. @PonyTailPower and @KReynoldsHair are both on the social media site. Currently Brown has more than 2700 followers where Reynolds has a bit further to go with nearly 250.

Not all is fun and games with social media at the Olympics. These athletes are in Russia after all, and between the Russian government and the International Olympic Committee, there have been restrictions enacted as described here in this article by Taylor Soper for GeekWire.

Journalists are however, live-tweeting all the Olympic action including the manholes without covers, dangerous water running out of their hotel faucets and the volunteers trying to save Sochi’s stray dogs as in this article on Storify by Tanita Gaither.

With as much Olympics as I watch, I can’t do a blog post without discussing commercials and their social media presence. After the Super Bowl, Olympic advertisements are probably the some of the best spots there are, but they’re played over and over and over. However, there is a trend of storytelling going on this year. Proctor and Gamble has been doing a series of “Thank You, Mom” ads that are about the mothers behind the athletes - one of which has garnered more than 16 million views on YouTube.

There’s no denying our lives have changed with the invention and ongoing development of social media. All this is a great example of some tremendous marketing, a faster way to get a message to more people and a way for those using these methods for information-seeking to get instant gratification. Do you use Twitter, Facebook or phone apps to be connected to the Olympic action or March Madness or other highly publicized events?

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Furia Rubel's Top Ads of the Super Bowl

By Maggie Quinn

For the advertising and public relations industry, the Super Bowl is the ultimate showcase of marketing mastery. Days before the game airs, consumers grasp at commercial teasers and sneak peaks and stock their refrigerators with a plethora of game day munchies.

The 2014 Super Bowl lacked excitement as the Seattle Seahawks easily trampled the Denver Broncos to win their first Vince Lombardi Trophy. With my Eagles and 49ers out of the picture, disinterest in the game allowed me to focus on the commercials, the halftime show and of course, chow down on some buffalo chicken dip.

In the spirit of the Super Bowl and with a little inspiration from ESPN’s “Top Plays of the Day” segment, I give you Furia Rubel's Top Ads of the Super Bowl Recap:

JCPenney fumbled its words when the company attempted some marketing humor by tweeting while wearing Team USA mittens. What was supposed to be a tactic to promote the upcoming Winter Olympics, ended up looking like someone at JCPenney enjoyed one too many cocktails. Coors Light gained some points with the best Twitter comeback since last year when Oreo responded to the blackout.

Any time you can get Alf, Chucky and Mary Lou Retton together in an ad, you're going to come up big. So it was with RadioShack's self-deprecating ad, “The ’80s Called: They Want Their Store Back."

I was especially happy to see that Cheerios did not sub out the beautiful family used in last year’s Super Bowl ad and kept the narrative going this year.

Coca-Cola tried to be a team player and highlight diversity by including seven languages in its “America the Beautiful” commercial. Unfortunately, the multilingual feature caused the company to receive some unsportsmanlike conduct from Internet trolls.

John Stamos, who’s no rookie to television, appeared in a Dannon Oikos Greek Yogurt commercial with former Full House stars Bob Saget and Dave Coulier. The only thing that could have made the reunion better is if we got a “have mercy” from Stamos. I’m throwing a flag on that missed opportunity.

The player of the game award definitely went to Budweiser. A fan favorite, the brand’s iconic Clydesdales joined forces with a puppy to create a minute-long heartwarming story. You can’t lose when you have an adorable puppy on your team. You just can’t.

Like Christmas, your birthday and most other fun things, the Super Bowl - and its commercials - come only once a year. If you were disappointed by some of your favorite brands, you’ll have to wait until they try again next year.

As an Eagles fan, I’m used to waiting.