Tag Archives: FourSquare

Automatic check-in to Facebook using facial recognition

If you liked the post back in February 2011 describing the Coca Cola village integration with Facebook, you’ll love this video of Facedeals, using automatic facial recognition to check-in to places.

Check-In with Your Face from redpepper on Vimeo.

This week in New York

One World Trade CenterI’ve been visiting our New York office this week, and had the privilege to meet many interesting people and companies.

Key points that stuck out were:

  • The American Airlines flight to New York last Sunday had free Wifi access for the entire journey. It’s very strange being able to iMessage Mrs H and the kids from the aeroplane, including sending them photos along the journey. And in case passengers’ batteries ran low from too much texting and surfing, there was a 3 pin UK electrical socket on every seat.
  • Whilst in New York, the antenna was erected on top of the Freedom Tower (or more correctly known as One World Trade Center), where the World Trade Centers once stood. The antenna makes the building 1,776 feet tall, which is the tallest building in the Western world. It was a memorable experience seeing the spire about to be raised the height of the building draped in the American flag.
  • Free Wifi is still relatively rare. All Starbucks have free Wifi, and some of the larger stores (Bloomingdales, Target, etc.). Bloomingdales deserves an award for having the longest terms of service to use the free Wifi. I was in a hurry and so I just pressed Accept.
  • Watching Piers Morgan was interesting because he interviews his subjects from such a UK mindset, which seems to wind them up (especially anything to do with gun control). Watching Twitter while his show was on transformed it into almost comedy entertainment, with some funny comments targeting him from the UK and the US.
  • FourSquare is still going strong. I checked into a few places which had over 100 people currently checked in (over 150 at JFK airport).

31 tips from Bill Boorman to increase Twitter followers


If you and I have ever had the chance to discuss Twitter, you’ll know I’m not exactly pro-Twitter. I question its true marketing value or longevity. However I do have a fixation for non-celebrity individuals who have a few thousand followers, because they are clearly effective at marketing in the Twitter-space.

I regularly attend a few MeetUps and last night I went to one that I’d been looking forward to for a while – a talk by Bill Boorman who has some 8,500+ followers on Twitter. Bill is quite infamous for “saying it how it is” and his social media expertise for his own company.

Fundamentally, Bill likens Twitter to a local pub, where you can hear and join in everyone’s conversation. You wouldn’t walk in and try and sell something direct (OK, forget the rose sellers for a second). And you would be quite subtle when joining a conversation.

Here were his other main points:

  1. Don’t plan too carefully; just build activity. Interestingly, I’ve heard that Facebook don’t have a strong content plan – they try not to plan too much because they prefer to be more market driven and quick to respond.
  2. Bill came to the stage wearing a T shirt with a hashtag, @billboorman and on the back, his web address. And a hat (without any branding). I’m not sure many people could get away with that (outside of San Fransisco), but his point was to stand out from the crowd and be different.
  3. Use Tweetdeck to tag specific groups
  4. Look to give advice to others, and be nice to others
  5. Make your avatar different so that you stand out in people’s timeline
  6. Be real – as you are in real life. Don’t try and have a ‘digital persona’
  7. Use tweet cloud for specific events and hash caster to follow events
  8. Google “random twitter statistics” and use those as content
  9. Use Socialbro for statistics
  10. Whilst Bill doesn’t claim to delay his tweets, he recommends tweeting first thing in the morning (7-9am), lunchtime and 4.15pm to 9pm. I.e. when people have some spare time.
  11. Tweet less than 100 characters so that your tweets can be retweeted
  12. Find Tweet chats and join in the conversation – think of the pub analogy again
  13. Be different, don’t be normal
  14. Talk to ten strangers every day
  15. Bill’s view of social media and making money: “We give away [on social media] the stuff people used to charge for, and charge for the stuff people really need.” He talked about a plumber who puts up YouTube videos on how to do plumbing, and provides contact details if you really need a professional plumber. I guess it’s the plumber’s version of freemium!
  16. Don’t read any books on social media…
  17. Do read “How to leave Twitter” though
  18. 3,000 followers makes you think you’re important, 4,000 followers makes you realise you’re not
  19. Bill’s knowledge of hash tags was very good – he was quoting specific hash tags to use for specific content
  20. Think in terms of searches – products and services should include the location, such as #london
  21. Use replyz to engage in conversations
  22. Use promoted words through pay per click, not hashtags because you’ll annoy users
  23. Brands need to be specific and engage in a conversation – think back to the pub analogy
  24. If brands do just want to have a robotic data feed, then fine, but their profile needs to indicate this and answer via another Twitter account
  25. How brands reply is the most important factor for brands
  26. Don’t auto-update between LinkedIn and Twitter (I guess this is for users who tweet more than say, 5 times a day)
  27. Use Listorious and Formulist to automatically create and update lists of users. Then set advanced rules such as ‘Who has checked in more than 3 times at a specific venue’ in FourSquare.
  28. More tools: Followerwonk and Twollow
  29. To attract mass followers, use Tweetadder
  30. Brands need to be careful of negative publicity and deal with it quickly, not just 9-5, and Bill gave an example of British Gas. He also described how tweeting whilst being made to wait on hold on the phone was a great way to get attention
  31. To get a dormant Twitter account, try to contact @Twitter

I found it interesting that it took an hour before someone asked Bill what he does for a living. I knew he was in recruitment and sort of assumed everyone knew, but his recommendations above were very generic.

Another impressive point was that Bill spoke to 45 minutes and had a break before answering questions. He then had 50 minutes of questions which is very rare at a MeetUp. I went up to him at the end of the session and said I thought 50 minutes of questions was outstanding and he answered that he only does it for the engagement, not the initial ‘How to’ part – and I think that’s a key point in social media.

I thought about Bill’s comments on the way home and will try to implement them to double my followers from 200 to 400 in the next 8 weeks and see if they are valid – and report back here. If you are a Twitter fan, you should either contact Bill on Twitter, or find out where he’s speaking.

npowerclub72.com site review


This week npower, who secured the naming rights to the Football League from the 2010/11 season for three years, jumped on the bandwagon and launched a Football League social network – www.npowerclub72.com.

The agency behind the website clearly had some good intentions, some of which I agree with:

  1. Don’t use Facebook Connect for everything, because unless you’re a unique level of Superbrand, all the consumer data that you’ll be collecting will be owned by Facebook. I agree with this and at Endava we call this On Portal and Off Portal. Off Portal are social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, etc. where the brand has no permanent rights to consumer data, and On Portal are brand-owned social networks where all the data belongs to the brand.
  2. Badges are good. I also agree with the philosophy that when users have used the site for long enough, reward them with badges. This idea has been around for a long time (Xbox or even Gold/Platinum credit cards and airline points cards). Badges cost nothing to distribute (they are only pixels), and instantly provide a level of loyalty to a website where users want to return to earn the next badge. On Npower’s website, users earn a badge for visiting/ claiming to visit a Football League club’s ground.
  3. Football and social networks. It’s been a long time coming – with football the most popular sport in the UK, and social networks so successful here as well, it’s natural to create a network for football fans.

So far so good.

The design is OK, nothing too fancy, and then again, it probably doesn’t need to be – neither Facebook or its twin brother Google+ are going to win any creative design awards.

Here’s what I’d have done differently if we ran the site:

  1. Badges are overused. In fact, the only thing to do on the site is earn badges. No other user generated content exists, and there’s no moderation on the site to you claiming all the badges. This defeats the loyalty aspect completely.
  2. No Facebook integration at all. The site should update Facebook (and Twitter, etc.) when users earn badges (once they sort out the badge issue).
  3. The visit-a-football-ground should be extended to upload pictures when a user visits a ground. This will provide a level of self-moderation.
  4. There’s no mobile support. In 2011, all sites should include mobile browser support and then include [iPhone and Android, etc.] app support. The mobile support should include mobile photo uploads and GPS, to provide FourSquare style ‘Check-In’ functionality to grounds.
  5. There’s little content links to the Football League. I would expect at least a league table and results ticker.

Back to my point above – a social network for football fans has been a long time coming, and I still think the opportunity exists for someone (probably a sponsor) to produce one.


How our children will use/are using Social Media

This video is 6 months old now, however it serves to show how children and teenagers want to use Social Networking compared to adults (say, over 25). As an adult can appear concerning, however if you look through the concern, watch how the the teenagers use Facebook. I strongly recommend you watch the whole video before reading on…

Although the Coca Cola village was filmed in Israel last year, you get the feeling it’s a bit futuristic, because we’re not used to seeing RFID tags as commonplace. However one shoe manufacturer has now produced a shoe with an RFID chip built in. Watch the video soon, because the video has been made password protected on other video sharing sites.

Facebook and Google are already reporting that huge numbers of users are moving away from computers to mobiles to use their websites. In the short to medium term future, don’t expect to have to reach into your pocket to “check in” to social networks – it will be done using your clothes. 

157 impressive mobile stats

I have an issue with people throwing mobile statistics into presentations because they are usually unfounded and questionable.

However this presentation contains references to all the statistics, which adds a high degree of credibility.

Crowd-sourcing on holiday


While I was in Israel on holiday, I used FourSquare a reasonable amount (basically, whenever I could get free Wifi access, because data roaming charges are prohibitively expensive). A number of friends over there had heard of FourSquare, but I didn’t come across anyone who actually used it.

Despite none of my friends having heard of it, almost everywhere we visited was already listed. This made me think that perhaps FourSquare has a similar crawler to search engines, which is constantly looking for business names and addresses, and placing them within the FourSquare database.

A site that is much bigger than FourSquare in Israel is Waze (pronounced ‘Ways’). Waze is 99% a free mobile app (iPhone, Android and Blackberry), which runs all the time, and as you drive along, it plots the roads you travel on. It also takes note of your speed.

You can then add police speedcheck areas, cameras, accidents and so on. This enables other Waze users to use their app to plan a route, and then see the virtually-live traffic on that route, as well as police speed traps, etc.

Waze is a really clever use of crowd-sourcing technology, put to use for a real purpose. Quite how they will make money I’m not so sure.

I downloaded Waze when I was back from holiday, and the app warned me that it had only just launched in the UK, so most roads and details still weren’t collected yet. 

Maybe so, however most of the side roads near my home were already in the system, so it’s probably exploding at a quicker pace than even Waze realise.

FourSquare – today and tomorrow

I find FourSquare simultaneously frustrating and potentially excellent.

FourSquare is a website/application which allows (requires) users to say (check-in) where they are. The more regularly a user checks in to a location, they are rewarded with ‘badges’ and status changes. A user can then become a ‘mayor’ of a location if they are the most frequent user in that location. It’s clever through it’s addictiveness.

The commercial model is that locations can then reward it’s mayors with free prizes, such as a coffee in a cafe, or a discount. FourSquare’s model is that it’s users are the ones who map the World rather than rely on Google or anyone else to do so.

The frustration stems from the iPhone app crashing when I try loading it without a wireless connection. For an application which relies on being out and about for its use… a very limiting factor. Apparently it only happens to some people, such as myself.

The potentially excellent view is that I can easily see Google or Microsoft buying them soon. Imagine Google knowing where it’s users are and integrating it into Buzz, GMail and Google Latitude (another excellent location utility commonly misunderstood). Or Microsoft integrating Messenger, Bing, Hotmail and FourSquare together as a single offering.