Foursquare Spam or Creative foursquare Marketing?

Like all maturing online tools, foursquare has been garnering the attention of spammers lately. Now, there are probably conflicting views on whether or not the activities that we are about to discuss are actually spam, or whether they are an attempt at creativity. If you’re a foursquare user, then you know that part of the location-based game is leaving tips about a venue. Business owners generally love it when their customers leave tips about their store. Even if negative tips are left, that provides business owners with a learning opportunity. Business owners can even see who left the negative tip and they can reach out to those folks to begin discussing how the business can be improved. You see, foursquare tips, whether positive or negative, can benefit businesses. Now, with a new form of foursquare tips beginning to appear on certain foursquare venues, it seems that foursquare tips might be taking a turn towards spam.

Foursquare SpamThe other day I was talking with Ryan Gerardi from AutoBurst, an Internet Marketing & Software Development Agency, and he let me in on something that he noticed on foursquare. As you can see from this image, a foursquare user, who’s a prominent online marketer in the auto industry, has left a tip at a local Lehigh Valley, PA auto dealer. Within his tip, he doesn’t leave a positive or negative comment about the dealership, what he does is he promotes a competing dealership that’s located across the street from the venue that he left the tip at. To some, this might be looked at as an extremely creative way to leverage foursquare tips. Now, when customers check-in at this Lehigh Valley auto dealer and check the foursquare tips, they will see this tip about walking across the street to another dealership and checking out what they have to offer. This foursquare tip might actually steal business away from the dealership that the tip was left at. Now, from a marketing perspective, if the goal is to drive traffic to your dealership, this foursquare tip is a creative way to do that. With that said, as a marketer, I’m of the opinion that this is the beginning of a new form of foursquare spam.

In preparation for writing this article, we did a little research and came across another great article about foursquare spam, which might be worth checking out. Here at Catalyst Marketers, we do everything in our power to conduct business with the highest integrity. That means using Permission Marketing when it comes to communicating with folks, building QUALITY relationships versus focusing on driving large quantities of followers who may or may not be engaged in what we’re doing, and conducting ourselves in a way that will always allow us to pass what we call the “red face test” (thanks to my old boss, Debbie Malovetz, for teaching me about that).

The “red face test” occurs when someone calls you out on something that you did. If you know what you did was unethical, your face might get red when confronted. If you acted in accordance to a high ethical standard, then you should have no problem explaining your actions. This is what the red face test is all about. For Catalyst Marketers, we are all about creativity, but for us, this new form of “foursquare marketing” is an activity that would inhibit us from passing the red face test. For us, this is not creative marketing, is new foursquare spam.

What say you?

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3 Comments

  1. Hey man this a keen observation. When I first discovered this my initial reaction was that it was pretty friggin clever. Ralph was creative and effective, and I can understand why you are challenging the integrity of it because it is technically self-promotional which goes against the unspoken rule of Social Media.

    From what I know of Ralph, he would not consider this spam. If he did then he would not have done it, Ralph understands this and that would not be his intent.

    I would equate this to the practice of over-promoting yourself in blog comments. This is a common mistake for novice bloggers. I have even been called out on it before.

    Regardless, it was clever on his part. You got to respect that, right?

    Brian Pasch posted recently about Facebook Whores which I would say is a spot-on example of true spam (on Facebook) – http://www.dealer-seo.com/20100707-is-dayna-jaqueline-is-a-facebook-whore/

    The nice thing about Facebook is the minimal spam, but we can’t expect that to last forever. Foursquare is probably less likely to get spam, but this could become a common practice plus it can be utilized in a variety of ways.

  2. Ryan – You bring up some good points. You know me, we are all about creativity. For me, I will NOT take part in activities like the one above.

  3. Sad to say this is still an issue in 2012. Interesting article, and hadn’t heard of the concept of the “red face test” before, so thanks for that.

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