Foursquare Captures Photos – Bad Idea?

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=18267386&server=vimeo.com&show_title=0&show_byline=0&show_portrait=0&color=00ADEF&fullscreen=1&autoplay=0&loop=0

Note: This video was shot using a Flip video MinoHD 8GB camcorder (Amazon affiliate link) and a Fat Gecko Double Knuckle Camera Mount (Amazon affiliate link). Boo-Yah!

My Flip is awesome! Though I wish I had the 3rd generation version which includes image stabilization. The Fat Gecko is wicked. Use it in or out of your car, snowboards, mountain bikes, bike helmets. I love it!


Transcription

I’ve had this video transcribed below for those who prefer to read rather than listen or watch. The transcription provided by me.

Hey everybody! It’s Mark again from Tampa where it is 32 degrees. It’s cold here.

I want to share with you a little something about Foursquare. Recently my Verizon Incredible was updated with a new version of the Foursquare app. And on that I noticed that they added a couple of new features. The biggest one was the ability to add photos to Checkin.

So last night, I was out. Had wings with a buddy of mine and stopped by the World of Beer down the street to have a beer before going home. I checked in while I was there and I thought I’ll add a photo. And so I took a picture of their monstrous cooler where they have over thousands of beers—its kind of cool, artistic photo—I added it. It was cool. Nice photo. You go into the venue now, and now you see that there’s a photo attached to it, I didn’t add any commentary but obviously you can add a little caption to in any of your photos. But what it did do for me is it made me think about what the addition of photos to the check-in mentality that is part and parcel to location-based social networking does.

The good thing about it is obvious when you think about the emptiness of the check-in. There’s really not a lot of value to them but when you can add a photo while you’re out on a restaurant of the dish that you’re enjoying of the staff at a bar and say, “Hey, let’s go to Ryan. This is Ryan, make sure he takes care of you. You tell him Mark sent you” and interiors of any kind of restaurant. “This is corner table where we love to have our Valentine’s dinner” what have you. Very cool things, tips and tricks, as they call it, very good to add that imagery, I’m sure video would be possibility to add to one day. Awkward things, but it then also so as a consumer, that’s what I think of. As an online marketing professional,

I wonder about some of the shady side of this including if you go to a restaurant and you have a bad dish, you take a photo off of your phone that isn’t in the dish and added to that, what value does that do? Not only do you have to worry about the legitimacy of the photos but the value checking in to a hotel where things aren’t right—there’s mold, there’s a cockroach—how does that help the business in a one time instance because the date of it is not as prominent.  In Foursquare at least, it is when you look at things like review sites where you can have businesses responding and stuff plus, you know, if I go and take a picture of a cockroach somewhere else and then put it in at the local Holiday Inn, you know, I am damaging a business without any repercussions to me, maybe I am doing it as a joke.

Likewise, taking pictures and posing it about it at an event or a park where you take pictures of a long line, airports, or malls, push people away and damage the business a lot more than they add any value to either the person posting the picture or the people that might view the picture. But more importantly is, like I said, as the consumer I worry—I enjoy these kind of features but as an online marketing professional I am responsible for over a hundred different businesses, I worry about privacy policy,

I worry about someone coming into one of my practices taking pictures of other patients, staff, taking pictures of personal, private records, not only break the confidence reality of the other patients, and the staff, but also put you, as a business owner at risk for regulation violations, legal violations, and the like.

I am all about all the new techniques and pushing above all for these technologies but this is one of the ones that make me nervous for some reason.

I’d be interested to see what you think. Do you see more value in there?

Or is this just something that could really be something in the long run amongst the other online marketing features?

Give me a comment below and I appreciate it. I promise I’ll respond. Take care.

Eric Speeth Interview

Data and Analytics Meet The Real World

Eric Speeth is a brilliant guy.  If you want to learn about how businesses are applying data analysis to online marketing, he’s your guy.  And he’s right here in Tampa.  Buy him a beer (a really good beer) and you’ll learn more than you ever will from some high-priced consultant.


Your Background

Eric Speeth Interview

Mark Regan: Tell me a little about your background and how you came into your current role as the Manager of Analytics Operations at Triad Digital.

Eric Speeth: I’ve been involved with web development and online marketing for about 8 years.  I began my career working for an asset management firm that operated around 20 startup, small and mid-sized businesses, some online and others brick and mortar.  Soon after I started, the firm’s partners handed all site development and online marketing initiatives to me.  I was young with limited experience.  I felt overwhelmed and was extremely understaffed. I learned quickly that proving success meant that my time was best spent analyzing site and campaign initiatives in an effort to drive strategy, leaving the heavy development work to the experts. This plan worked well.  Even given rudimentary tools, I was able to quantify success, build actionable strategies and help the firm achieve several major online objectives.

I continued exploring analytics through my tenure there and eventually made it my focus as I moved to Tampa and began consulting as a performance-based marketer.  In 2008, I was recruited by Triad Digital Media and entered their organization as a web analyst.  I was given the opportunity to lead their analytics relationship with several major publishers and advertisers and now manage the analytics operations and media implementation team for all Triad accounts.

Social Media Analytics

Mark Regan: How has your background in web analytics been applied to your tracking needs in the social media space?

Eric Speeth: Social is a hot topic with a lot of brands that I work with, both in expansion of retail opportunities and brand engagement/loyalty.  Beyond sheer reach, arguably, a lot of what’s caused organizations to gravitate toward use of social channels is the value in measuring audience and action-based information.

When I first started seeing brands integrate socially, there weren’t many ways to evaluate success. From what was measurable, I would notice variable impact due to a lack of audience insight.  It took several years for analytics to catch up.  However, it’s now nearly the opposite.  With tools like Facebook analytics, app integration with several analytics vendors and the plethora of independent social media monitoring tools (i.e. Radian 6, Viralheat), the ability to measure and optimize initiatives living in the social space is practically limitless. Now, the challenge to someone like myself is identifying what is truly valuable out of each initiative and finding ways to optimize those important metrics.

If I were to give an overarching recommendation to brands/businesses marketing through social channels it would be to leverage the value of capturing demographic and user activity data to find your target audience.  Free or low cost tools like Viralheat can help easily dashboard and allow you to take action on this information.  Next, do everything you can to “close the loop”.  Facebook and Twitter are great mechanisms for initiating engagement, entertaining your audience or leading them to your brand’s next conversion point, but they aren’t all inclusive destinations (not yet anyway).  Make sure you are tracking social visitation through to purchase/conversion paths.  Channel/campaign variables are capable of tracking this in nearly every modern analytics solution whether your using Google Analytics, Coremetrics, Webtrends or Site Catalyst.

Big Business and Web Analytics

Mark Regan: You’ve worked with many Fortune 500 companies, regarding web analytics what do you think big business does better than small to medium-size businesses?

Eric Speeth: A lot of larger businesses have recognized the power that analytics-driven strategy brings to the to their organization.  Almost every major marketing publication mentions analytics strategy at least once per issue, newsletter or blog post.  Big business eats this up.  Once a larger entity decides to pursue an analytics focused model, their budgets allow them to recruit top talent who know and believe in analytics from executives to analysts.  This top-down support system enables them to roll out best-in-class analytics solutions, testing platforms and research models that really help drive major strategic decisions.   It can take years to build a platform that is optimized for success.  However, once this framework is in place, that organization will have a huge upper hand against the competition.

Mark Regan: What surprises you about what the big firms don’t do so well?

Eric Speeth: Big firms aren’t generally nimble.  Once a company gets to a certain critical mass, there are meetings just to discuss other upcoming meetings.  Marketing strategy and media spends can be forecasted out a year or more in advance with little consideration for the need to change mid-stride.  Even though they know its in their best interest, a large organization may not be able to act on a change until they can brainstorm about it, get funding and resource approval for it, develop project plans against it, then finally execute on it.  Analysis needs are becoming much more real-time which means a smaller entity where only a few individuals are making the marketing decisions can react more responsively to change.  It also means that they can fail and learn faster.  This is something that several big businesses struggle with.

Small Business Tactics

Mark Regan: If you owned a small business what steps would you take to manage your online marketing activities knowing you had a limited budget?

Eric Speeth: Setting strategic and measurable goals is probably the most important first step a small business can take towards driving a successful marketing strategy.  Being able to break those goals down over a one-year period into quarters, then months will also help give better perspective on where you need to be over shorter periods of time in order to achieve those longer 1+ year targets.  One myth I’d like to dispel is that setting short or even long term goals DOES NOT require pinpoint accurate benchmarks or elaborate forecasting methodologies, but all goals should be actionable and impacting (i.e. increasing brand reach in social or viral channels, optimizing on-site conversion paths, further identifying audience segments, etc.).

Once you’ve identified a strategy to reach those goals, its important to spend your budget wisely. One piece of advice I would lend is not to put all your eggs in one basket.  Spending all of your dollars on one three month awareness initiative may not magically bring an audience back for the rest of the year.  It’s also extremely important to stay targeted, focused and relevant with your campaigns (geographically, demographically, socioeconomically, seasonally, etc.).

With that in mind, it’s vital to purchase media through outlets that are able to demonstrate they are reaching your desired audience while they’re in the right mindset.  Signing a long-term agreement with a media partner without running test or trial campaigns is probably not a good choice.   Make any media channel prove its worth before making a really expensive mistake. I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention that you should always take advantage of relevantly marketing yourself on any low or no-cost media channels (be it social, viral, etc.).

Lastly, be aware of how you plan on learning more about your audience and improving your campaign as you continue your spend throughout the year.  The best way to do this is through a combination of free surveys, creative testing and optimization. If you aren’t setting up your site and your marketing campaigns on some kind of optimization platform (Google Website Optimizer, Omniture Test & Target, etc.), you aren’t maximizing your marketing dollars. A terrific book that answers questions on how to do this using free tools and few resources is called Always Be Testing and is a must read for any business that wants to set themselves up to maximize their marketing testing and optimization efforts.

The Future

Mark Regan: Looking ahead 12-24 months, what tools should vendors in the online marketing space develop to help people like you?

Eric Speeth: One challenge we face in analytics is the integration/centralization of data between marketing tools. To put it simply, the ability to tie data together quickly and easily throughout all of your initiatives doesn’t exist.  Right now, you have two choices:

  1. Pull data manually out of a dozen or more tools and put it all together into a sensible report, then spend whatever remaining minutes you have to compile insight or
  2. Convince your organization to buy expensive servers and software, then hire a team of database professionals to integrate and manage your marketing analytics for you.  Next, hire a dedicated resource to pull all that information together into a beautiful report where you, as a marketer, can spend your time extracting insight and driving strategy.

I can’t tell you how disappointed I am at those options. The data already exists, it just doesn’t exist where you need it to (in a report with other information from other tools).  Paying to extract and store a copy of the data isn’t a sustainable practice. Neither is paying a team of database professionals to manage and compile that information.  I foresee a lot of progress being made on this, maybe not in the next two years, but certainly in the next five.

Location-Based Social Networks

Mark Regan: Bonus question: What are your thoughts on location-based social networks like Foursquare, Gowalla and Facebook Places? How do you see this concept helping businesses?

Eric Speeth: As mobile device technology continues to grow, location-based applications could undoubtedly have a HUGE impact on a brick & mortar business’s success. The more prevalent your organization is on these networks, the more opportunities you are giving yourself to succeed in the future.

Speaking in the current, even something as simple as Google Maps and their use of reviews/recommended listings leveraging feeds from Yelp!, Urban Spoon, Trip Advisor, etc. has opened businesses up to a sort of transparency that can literally make or break them. If a business is smart, they are monitoring their reputations very closely to see what their customers are saying, learning from their mistakes and actively seeking to correct them.  They should also be participating in real-time marketing opportunities.  Whether that involves tweeting a one-day promo code or running a campaign through Groupon, smart businesses should realize that the next step beyond monitoring and managing their reputation is to be as active as its customers are through use of real time promotions.  I foresee location-based networks to hold even further value as additional features are developed to allow for more functional marketing opportunities within them.

Contacting You

Mark Regan: Thanks Eric!  How can people find out more about your analytics work and connect with you?

Eric Speeth: You can follow me on LinkedIn or through acuteinsights.com.

Tampa is 25th in the US for Tech Jobs? Really?

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=17863968&server=vimeo.com&show_title=0&show_byline=0&show_portrait=0&color=00ADEF&fullscreen=1&autoplay=0&loop=0

Note: This video was shot using a Flip video MinoHD 8GB camcorder (Amazon affiliate link) and a Fat Gecko Double Knuckle Camera Mount (Amazon affiliate link). Boo-Yah!

My Flip is awesome! Though I wish I had the 3rd generation version which includes image stabilization. The Fat Gecko is wicked. Use it in or out of your car, snowboards, mountain bikes, bike helmets. I love it!


Transcription

I’ve had this video transcribed below for those who prefer to read rather than listen or watch. The transcription provided by me.

Hey everybody! Mark Regan here. I recently read where Moody’s listed Tampa as one of the top 25 hubs in technology.

I was born and raised here through high school. Left for about 15 years, never planning to come back, living in cities like RTP, North Carolina, Atlanta and Silicon Valley, cities in metropolitan areas that really have an infrastructure and an ecosystem built around supporting technology companies and technology people.

Tampa doesn’t have any of that. It might have a little bit in the biosciences areaout near USF. But it isn’t in any way, supportive hardware, software technology services—anything that is closer to what I’m interested in.

So they call it a ‘technology hub’ is really doing a disservice to those other cities and Moody’s really should’ve stopped their count at whatever point the technology hubs is really stopped turning in into the cities with technologies and really just started to be a top 25 list for some arbitrary purpose of calling them 25 cities.

If you disagree with me, let me know. Leave me some comments below.

Maybe there’s something here I don’t know or something is beginning ready to happen but to call it a ‘technology hub’ doesn’t work in my mind. I live here now and I plan to live here for this foreseeable future and I would love to be wrong but I just don’t see it.

Anyway, let me know in the comments below. Later

Dr. Nate Interview

Social media in a conservative industry?

In this week’s interview of Online Marketing experts here in the Tampa Bay area, I had the chance to hook up with Dr. Nathan Bonilla-Warford (Dr. Nate), owner of Bright Eyes Family Vision Care in the Westchase area of Tampa.  He sprang onto the Tampa scene early this year with…

I’ll just let him tell the story.


Your Background

Dr. Nathan Bonilla-Warford Interview

Mark Regan: Tell me a little about your background and how you came into your current incarnation of optometrist and social media evangelist..

Dr. Nate: I’ve always been a little bit techy when thinking about a career, I considered basic science, but was concerned about not having enough person-to-person interaction. After considering lots of fields that would be science/tech based yet involve daily working with people, I settled on Optometry. I have been extremely happy with my choice.

I have also been interested in “social media” from the early 1990s in the form IRC, usenet, and MUDs and even without video, audio, or graphics beyond ASCII art, I was impressed with how well the internet could unite people independent of geography. I worked for AOL for awhile after college and before optometry school. Once I became a business owner, it was a no-brainer to use these tools to make connections and market my “real” skill of eye and vision care.

Foursquare Day – April 16th

Mark Regan: We came to know each other through your fame in naming April 16th (4/16) as Foursquare Day.  How has this international level of fame changed your Westchase business?  Were there any downsides?

Dr. Nate: Well, Foursquare Day was great. I basically just got lucky – I had a simple idea and ran with it. Lots of other people got excited about it and because of that I was on TV, in the paper, and mentioned in lots of blogs and websites around the world. I met lots of great folks.

People now find out about my practice via foursquare, but even more importantly it opened doors that lead to speaking appearances at national meetings and a paying gig blogging about social media and the eye care industry. The only real downside was that I basically didn’t sleep for three weeks while not cutting back on my day job. Working during the day, blogging at night. It was brutal.

Local Online Marketing

Mark Regan: With respect to local online marketing, what should more owners use to drive their business?  I’m thinking, review sites, directories, SEO, social media, location-based marketing, etc.  But you may have others.

Dr. Nate: Small business owners are busy people and they can’t simply tell “marketing” to do things. I’m not saying they have to do everything themselves, but they should educate themselves enough about social media so that they can intelligently make choices about what to do, what to delegate and what to outsource.

I think we are at the point now where every local business should have a Facebook page, even if it is updated less frequently. A blog really matters, both for the customer education and the SEO value, but it requires more time and attention. Claiming and monitoring review sites are important, but I think that the demographics of Tampa Bay are such that a business should limit the amount of time put in.

Mark Regan: I’m guessing the typical optometrist considers their market potential to be a 25-mile radius around their office.  What would you say to these folks to open their eyes beyond that limitation?

Dr. Nate: I think that the average optometrists actually thinks it is smaller than 25-mile, maybe more like 10. It is interesting, though, because I have patients that come from Gainesville, Bradenton, Sebring, etc. They come because I have special skills such as computer vision syndrome and children’s vision and they find me via the internet.

So when I talk to other eye doctors, I encourage them to think about what sets them apart and then totally own that niche. Claim that area and dominate it. For example, I want to be the THE EYE GUY to the Tampa Bay tech scene. The fact that I just got published in Mashable is huge, even though obviously most readers aren’t in my neighborhood.

Healthcare Industry

Mark Regan: Do you feel businesses in the healthcare space have a disadvantage over others due to legal issues, liability, regulations when it comes to exploiting the latest and greatest in online marketing strategies?

Dr. Nate: I do a podcast called Peripheral Vision with a friend about social media for eye care professionals. We talk about this all the time. Yes, health care does have few disadvantages. Some of these are state and federal laws that limit what can be said and what kind of information can be released.

But that isn’t really the biggest hurdle. Most health care professionals are very conservative and are used to have a lot of control over everything. Social media is new and it feels like giving up control of information and image to others. What many don’t realize is that they’ve already lost control – they just don’t know it yet – and embracing social media is a way to regain control.

Location-Based Social Networks

Mark Regan: Bonus question: What are your thoughts on location-based social networks like Foursquare, Gowalla and Facebook Places? How do you see them helping businesses?

Dr. Nate: Well, I remember when I was being interviewed a year ago and was asked what I thought was going to be big in 2010. I said location-based services, but I had no idea how white-hot it was going to get – for me personally or the the concept. However, a very small percentage of people, I think hovering around 5% use these networks.

Facebook has the opportunity to explode that number, but from a business owner perspective they’ve totally botched the roll out in a really disappointing way.

Nevertheless, I think businesses should take advantage of the LBS networks, because even if a small percentage of people use them, it gives businesses one more way generate content and interest. It remains to be seen if LBS ever becomes standard.

Contacting You

Mark Regan: Thanks Dr. Nate!  How can people find out more about how you use social media in your optometry office and connect with you?

Dr. Nate: You are totally welcome. Thanks for being a Patient Spotlight for me. I love to spread the word about social media. First, I host a regular social media chat for the Westchase Area Business Association at my office. People can find out more on the Facebook page. They can also read more on my blog, Bright Eyes News, or find me on Facebook or Twitter.

Tampa Search Marketing – Insights from the Bay Area

Search popularity is always an interesting topic as people get deeper into their Tampa-unique search marketing initiatives. However peeking into local search popularity is another matter since the volume is never high enough for terms related to Tampa. Nor can we peek at what those within Tampa are searching for. The most popular tools, like WordTracker and Google Keyword Tool, just don’t do that.

But another tool from Google allows to see what the searchers here in Tampa are doing, Google Insights. You can drill down with many different levers in the tool, but the regional filter is worth delving into.

Using the tool’s filter I ran reports looking back over the past thirty days targeting the Tampa Bay area and its search terms on Google. As we might expect many of the popular terms at the national level show up, like ‘Facebook’, ‘YouTube’, ‘news’, etc. But if you drill down into the categories you find some very unique Bay Area terms.

In the Financial category are many searches for Suncoast Federal Credit Union. Notice the absence of some of the other big banks in that list. Hats off to Suncoast.
In the Local category, we see a near breakout search for the recent Ribfest in St. Petersburg.

In the Real Estate category the county property appraiser’s offices (Hillsborough, Pinellas and Sarasota) are quite popular.

In the Society category, it’s the universities that dominate, in particular the University of South Florida and the University of Florida.

So are you are preparing your strategy to aggressively attack the search marketing channel here in Tampa, are you going to this level of detail to not only do the due diligence on your industry’s terms, are you are looking for opportunities to align yourself with popular terms that are local in nature?

If not, Google Insights is a great starting point.

UPDATE 12/8/2009: The St Pete Times has an article this morning on the most Googled terms in Tampa Bay.  Here’s a direct link the raw data. It’s interesting to see Google’s view compared the my take above.

Online Marketing, Tampa Style – 4 New Google Trends to Watch Closely

As the New Year approaches here in the Tampa Bay area many businesses large and small are looking to make changes and begin the new life for their body as well as their business. Online marketing is usually the first place people target to make a substantial impact to the business. So we take a look at 4 new Google trends worth watching closely.

Google is cluttering the search results page. Over the past few months and in months to come Google will add more components to the results page including:

  1. Social Search results. Currently at the bottom of the page.

    Social Search Results

    Social Search Results

  2. Profiles. Also at the bottom for name searches.

    Personal Profiles

    Personal Profiles

  3. Local Listings Ads. An expansion of AdWords that pushes organic results (non-revenue generating) even further down.

    Local Listings Ads

    Local Listings Ads

  4. AdWords SiteLinks. Another line or three within the paid results.

    AdWords Sitelinks

    AdWords Sitelinks

What does this mean for you? It’s no longer easy to dominate the search results on Google. In addition to traditional organic search results and AdWords tactics you now need to expand your list of campaigns if you want to own the results page and starve out your competition.

As with any channel of marketing it’s important to weigh the time and investment you make in online marketing to insure you are getting a good return. Even with online marketing there may be better and more efficient options than Google for gaining new business.

But most of the options are niche and focused on your particular industry or vertical. Google is the good catch-all for all industries, but don’t be blinded by its press. There are other options; ones that may be less expensive.

Soon I’ll delve into a few of those vertical as they relate to Tampa and how businesses in them could attack the online market and capture local, regional, national or even international business.

If you would like to see me focus on your industry, contact me and I’ll glad to share the results right here with you and the world.

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