Foursquare Boosts Public Transit Use

foursquareThe location-based mobile network Foursquare has partnered with San Francisco’s Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART to locals) to encourage use of their train service across 43 stations in the Bay area.

As regular metarand readers know, I am a big fan of game mechanics. Foursquare combines social networking elements with game mechanics, encouraging users to explore their neighborhoods and make recommendations.

For example, a user can become ‘mayor’ of a specific cafe or pub by checking in there more than anyone else. Updates are shared across services like Twitter which announce when someone takes over as mayor.

I’ve found these tweets somewhat irritating, but I think that is due to the way they are written – it’s usually a few microseconds into my scanning a tweet before I realize its a Foursquare announcement and I move on.

Foursquare

The BART partnership with Foursquare involves awarding $25 promotional tickets to riders chosen at random from those Foursquare users who log in at BART stations. Users can also duke it out to see who becomes ‘mayor’ of various stations on their regular commute routes.

All up, an innovative use of social media, mobiles and geolocation to boost public transport usage.

Social business design: Humanizing the company at every turn

Kara Swisher has done a fun interview with Ford’s social go to guy, Scott Monty, in which he does his impersonation of Bill Cosby’s cocaine skit:

Cosby: I said to a guy, “Tell me, what is it about cocaine that makes it so wonderful,” and he said, “Because it intensifies your personality.” I said, “Yes, but what if you’re an asshole?”

Scott’s message is that “social media is the cocaine of the communications industry“. If you have crappy products, if your company behaves like an ahole…people are going to find out about it way quicker through social media. The glass half full stance does point to the same holding true for great products and companies too.

It’s a memorable analogy, but the key take out for me from this interview is Scott’s comment that for Ford, “social media is absolutely key to everything we are doing“.

Take advertising, for example, Ford has moved to using 15 second spots with real people telling their stories. “Advertising is social mediaesque“.

Scott also essentially defined social business design: Its about humanizing the company at every turn, whether in HR, product development, customer service, PR or other areas.

Augmented Reality Enters The Realm of Raw Possibility

In talking about augmented reality and technology in general, science fiction writer Bruce Sterling drops a classic line:

The failures are more interesting than the successes. They serve as a kind of negative space for what’s possible and what’s not possible.

He goes on to talk about the current status of augmented reality – it’s still in the hands of artists, non profits and scientists…a phase filled with “raw possibility”, not tempered by the constraints of quarterly targets and profit. We’ll dwell in this arena for a while yet…

Watch the entire session with Bruce below – it holds some fantastic footage of giant AR projections, or cut to 4.20 or so for his nugget of wisdom.

Designing for social business: game mechanics as catalyst

The Deloitte Tribalization of Business Study, which I discussed in my previous post, identified that “the biggest obstacles to creating successful communities are getting people to engage and participate, and getting people to keep coming back.”

I’m a big believer that incorporating game mechanics into the design of social business systems can have a significant catalytic effect.

Making business fun, makes for better business.

Ultimately, if designed right such systems can achieve the required inflection points – critical mass, etc to overcome the obstacles noted in the Deloitte study.

Let’s play a game. I’d like you to watch the following video. While you do think of an analogy and follow a linear narrative.

The stairs at the start of the video represent a business before it’s been optimized for social business: functional, static, requires effort. People grudgingly use them.

The escalators are installed. They’re shiny, they move fast and require little effort. Everyone jumps on board. But after a while they lose their soul, they’re just as boring as the stairs were. No-one smiles.

This represents a business that has had social media tools installed without following a systematic design process. At first it seems awesome that you can have a wiki, “Hey look, I’m talking to my other colleagues in sales”.

“It’s amazing. I set up not just one blog, but one for every day of the week!

The company sees the light. They decide to go back to their core business functions – the stairs – and design them right. They integrate game mechanics into their social business systems.

Everyone loves them. People leave work with a smile on their faces. They don’t mind a bit of effort, because they are loving doing it. The system (stairs) now allow people to express themselves creatively.

The business has got its soul back!

Tribalizing Business: Steps To Changing The Game

hutsHumans are genetically predisposed to commune. When they do so within socially optimized corporate environments this results in exponential amplification across return on engagement metrics.

The results of a recent Deloitte survey of over 400 organizations, 2009 Tribalization of Business Study, provide a solid baseline for exploring where business is at with respect to providing such socially optimized environments.

First up, the survey found that over 50% of enterprises that had previously made some investment in social media were planning on maintaining this community-status quo. Over 40% planned to increase their investment in this area and only 6% were decreasing their involvement.

This tells us that business tribalization is becoming a reality. Or does it? Not so fast – there remains a lot of work to be done before we can comfortably declare enterprise engagement as being widespread.

Across 36% of companies surveyed, social media continues to be deployed out of the marketing function. While it is good to see that multiple departments are managing social media in as many as 15% of survey respondents, this can be problematic depending on the way in which management takes place. Clear decision-making processes need to be put in place that match the real time nature of social media.

Methods for monitoring and measuring success are currently predominantly based on participation-related analytics. The downside of doing so is that it can create a false view on how enterprises are benefitting from being more social.

Remember, that higher quality engagement trumps quantity and will lead to more sustainable inbound and outbound engagement. This is highly relevant as evidenced from the responses to the survey. Respondents indicated that the biggest obstacles they faced were getting people to participate regularly.

By better formulating their goals, and by aligning measurement with the achievement of these goals, companies will know how their investment into such areas as employing more staff to manage social media activities are faring.

The current staffing trend is to have 2-5 people, but interestingly almost 5% of those surveyed have more than 10 staff in such roles.

The survey concluded that “new management strategies and practices” are going to be critical for extracting “true business value” from social integration.

Tribalizing business in a game changing way requires an all-of-enterprise commitment and sustained ecosystem-wide engagement.