All posts in “Foursquare”

Sunrise: A New Day for your iPhone Calendar

Karly Gaffney is a Manager on the Content and Community team at Social Media Group.

As someone who is an avid planner, with multiple calendars (shared and private) to manage both personal and business schedules, I spend a significant amount of time updating and maintaining dates and events. This is why I’m pretty excited about today’s launch of Sunrise, a beautifully designed social calendar app. Oh, and it’s free.

Former Foursquare UX designers Pierre Valade and Jeremy Le Van first launched Sunrise as a daily email service that detailed your online social life in a daily digest emailed to your inbox each morning. Connecting with Facebook, Google Calendar, Eventbrite and LinkedIn, Sunrise’s daily agenda email, provided everything from upcoming meetings to the current weather.

Fast-forward five months, Sunrise boasts 20,000 email subscribers with a 50% open rate. Pierre and Jeremy have since quit Foursquare to focus on Sunrise full-time resulting in today’s launch of the Sunrise calendar app for iPhone. Leveraging the existing social platform connections, Sunrise was designed to make it easier for users to take action when necessary. Users are able to sync the app with multiple Google Calendar accounts, connect to Facebook to view birthdays and events, even connect to LinkedIn to bring in pictures of the people attending those events. For example, if I see it’s a friend’s birthday on my calendar I could post to their Facebook timeline or send them a text message directly through Sunrise.

I love the simplified thinking behind Sunrise. With a tap or a swipe I can see when and where an event is taking place as well as what the weather forecast is for that day (aka what to wear.) Sunrise will certainly help cut back on the time spent on calendar management considering it pulls many of the important details from your connected social channels, plus you can hide the ones least relevant to your day to make the app more manageable.

For those stragglers who have yet to update to iOS 6 because of the maps debacle, you’re out of luck because the update is required to download Sunrise. However, it should be noted that the Google Places API is used for locations, displayed within the app using Apple Maps, and with a tap from the details screen or a swipe on the agenda display the app switches you over to the Google Maps app (if you have it installed.) If you want to give Sunrise a try, check it out at

What do you think about Sunrise? Is it a contender for Fantastical and Tempo? Would you be more willing to try it out because it’s free?

How HOT is Social Media Lately…

Wangari Kamande is a Research Analyst at Social Media Group.

I am sitting on my couch this quiet Saturday evening reading June’s edition of O magazine – an uncommon activity as I rarely buy magazines. I am one of those boldly unashamed people who walk into a Chapters store, picks a favourite magazine, finds a spot near the in-store Starbucks, and reads through each and every article (but my ‘redeeming’ quality is that I always return the magazines to the rack that I found them). Why am I talking about this? What does this have to do with social media? There was one fateful day when I forgot my smartphone at home; I literally felt lost with nothing to do in between breaks for lunch and waiting for an appointment – I had to get something to fill my time – hence O magazine. You see, when I have my phone I’m mostly perusing through my social sites reading up on what’s new and what’s going on with other people’s lives…so I wondered if this “subconscious” craze is still taking over the world’s populace.

Let’s review some high level statistics and see…

Growth of Usage

According to a study by GlobalWebIndex, purported to be the world’s most detailed global insight study into consumer behaviour online:

  • Social networking has seen 23% growth in the last 2 years
  • Micro-blog updates have increased by 11% and video uploads by about 6%
  • Forums have become significantly less active, showing a 6% decline in activity and blogging seems to have remained stagnant at 27% in the past two years
  • China is the most socially engaged country in the world, with 84% of users contributing at least once a month. Russia, Brazil and India follow in that order
  • reports that 66% of all online adult users are connected to one or more social media platforms. In addition, social media use for both personal and business purposes has been increasing steadily in the last 10 years

Social Media Platform Statistics

According to the Realtime report:

The list goes on, what appears to be social mania is just a new way of doing what humans have done always, communicate!

Social Brands

Websites continue to be the primary brand engagement point for consumers online, according to an earlier version of the Globalwebindex study nearly a third of consumers online are engaging with brands on social media, no doubt a clear sign of social traction for those brands that are doubtful if social media is here to stay.

According to some overwhelming stats coming via Facebook’s S1 registration statement courtesy of its initial IPO, as of Dec 31, 2011, more than seven million apps and websites were integrated with Facebook.

Mobile and Social Media

Since Facebook is such  hot news with the whole “to buy or not to buy” driving investors mental – again from its SI registration statement, Facebook identified 425 million active users of Facebook via mobile devices (mobile, social media – something is cooking really fast here).

To emphasize how quickly all this is changing, according to digitalbuzz of the 6 billion humans in the planet, 4.8 billion own a mobile phone and only 4.2 billion own a tooth brush. Now really – I get the sense here that the new ways of getting us all to connect are supposedly surpassing our need for dental hygiene. Mobile is something to watch especially with the social overlay that is now quickly becoming the faster and cheaper way to connect with others.

Still not convinced of the value of this social movement? I would like to hear from you…


Foursquare Delivers a Decisive Blow to Stalkers

Karly Gaffney is a Manager on the Content and Community team at Social Media Group.

This week foursquare announced API changes to eliminate privacy concerns and creepy stalker apps like Girls Around Me. So, what are they changing? Foursquare is removing the ability for users to see people (even those not on their friends list) who are checked in to a venue without being checked in to the same venue themselves. Akshay Patil (foursquare API evangelist) explains it further: “much like how the users could see each other by looking around in real life.” Users will still be able to see friend check-ins regardless of whether they’re checked in to the same venue or not.

Creepy apps like Girls Around Me (which got a lot of buzz in March) leverage foursquare data to display a list of people (strangers) who are checked in nearby filtered by gender. The API change will essentially render these apps worthless because users will only be able to see their friends.

On the flipside, eliminating this data also affects the less-creepy apps like Sonar or Banjo that connect strangers based on location, particular interests or mutual friends. Sonar leverages data from multiple networks including foursquare, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook to suggest people nearby you should connect with, based on interests and/or mutual friends.

Banjo uses data from Twitter, foursquare, Instagram and others to display where people are and what they’re saying or doing based on check-ins or tweets, not interests.

The foursquare API change will be implemented in June to allow time for the less-creepy app developers to make some changes. The negative impact will be low for these developers, considering many of them use multiple platforms and are not 100% reliant on foursquare for data.

I am a big fan of foursquare and consider it a safe service when used properly. This change will make it easier for the cautious non-users to convert and give the application a try.

What do you think? Does this make you feel more secure about sharing your location? Does this make you want to give foursquare a try if you haven’t already?

Social Media Round Up for April 20

Social Media Event Of The Week: Foursquare Day

Foursquare enthusiasts worldwide observed Foursquare Day on April 16, 2012. As part of the celebration, Foursquare announced it now has over 20 million users who have checked-in over 2 billion times.

Radian6 took a look at the social media conversations generated around Foursquare Day 2012 and provided some interesting stats on their blog this week.

On April 16, Foursquare Day was mentioned 322,274 times in social media channels, with conversation peaking between 7-8am EST at 25,226 mentions. The United States led the way with over 14,000 mentions, with Brazil coming in close behind, followed by Mexico, Indonesia, Chile, Turkey, Japan, the UK and Thailand. The 25-34 demographic led the conversation with 48.1% of Foursquare Day mentions.

For more insights on social media conversation around the 2012 Foursquare Day event, check out Radian6’s blog.

Klout Launches Brand Pages to Connect Companies with Influencers

Klout announced the launch of a new feature called Brand Squads, which is basically a brand page for companies to engage with users whom Klout has indicated as influential. They are kicking off this new feature with Red Bull as a launch partner. Take a look at the Red Bull ‘brand squad’ to see what they’re rolling out to their Klout influencers over the next few weeks. (Some influencers will get a trip the upcoming X Games.)

Google’s Cloud Service (Google Drive) Interface Leaked in Employee Presentation

It was rumored this week that Google will soon be launching Google Drive, its own cloud service. Yesterday Mashable posted an exclusive screen shot (shown below) of a Google employee’s screen during a presentation at a university in Brazil. It shows the presenter accessing the file IA Google Drive. A Google spokesperson responded by simply saying “We don’t comment on rumor or speculation.”



Happy Foursquare Day (Be There and Be Square!)

Karly Gaffney is a Manager on the Content and Community team at Social Media Group.

Social media enthusiasts are gathering worldwide today to celebrate the third annual Foursquare Day.  Foursquare Day is held every year on April 16th (i.e., 4/16) and was started as a grass roots event in 2010 by Tampa Bay fans of the popular location-based app, foursquare. The event quickly spread to communities all over the world.

I am a self-proclaimed social media addict, and have been on the organizing committee of Foursquare Day Toronto (#4sqdayYYZ) since 2010.  Last year was a huge success worldwide for 4sqDay with 3,073, 635 check-ins, 781 parties and 19 real city mayors who issued proclamations.

4sqDay 2011 By The Numbers

Last year, our Toronto organizing team was proud to make Toronto one of the top ten cities worldwide for check-ins/attendees with about 150-200 attendees throughout the night. We’re hoping to exceed our numbers this year. (Check out the recap video below)

For those of you in the Toronto area, you’re invited to join us at 6 p.m. this evening at The Pilot Tavern at 22 Cumberland Street in Yorkville. Nat & Marie, Toronto’s sassiest sweethearts to take a byte outta’ the world wide web, will host the event. Sponsors of the event have provided multiple giveaways, including prize packs from Fairmont Royal York hotel, Jugnoo, iSkin and ContactMonkey. Creemore Springs Brewery has also been a huge support through securing the event venue and providing additional hospitality highlights.

Be there and be square! *insert cheesey music*

[googleMap name=”The Pilot Tavern” description=”The Pilot Tavern”]22 Cumberland Street Toronto[/googleMap]

My Name is Karly, and I’m an Addict

Karly Gaffney is a Manager on the Content and Community team at Social Media Group.

Noun: The fact or condition of being addicted to a particular substance, thing, or activity.

While standing in line to order the first coffee of the day, I check in on Foursquare then peruse my Twitter feed and Facebook notifications. The order is in and as I wait for my morning fuel to arrive I go back to Foursquare, Facebook and Twitter to see what’s new. Seriously.

According to a recent study led by Wilhelm Hofmann of University of Chicago’s Booth Business School, Tweeting and checking emails is a much harder addiction to give up than cigarettes or alcohol. The study was looking to measure how well people could resist their desires and, as turns out, it’s a lot easier to pass up that second glass of red in order to keep your hands free to send a status update.

Social Media Addiction

Hofmann told the Guardian, “Desires for media may be comparatively harder to resist because of their high availability and also because it feels like it does not ‘cost much’ to engage in these activities, even though one wants to resist.” Hofmann noted that alcohol and cigarettes are more costly and may not be as accessible as social media and email. “So, even though giving in to media desires is certainly less consequential, the frequent use may still ‘steal’ a lot of people’s time.”

Retrevo Stats

Sure, we’ve all checked our Facebook notifications or Twitter feeds at inopportune (or sometimes inappropriate) times, and answering a text over dinner is becoming less and less of a faux pas (debatable). Some people even have Foursquare venues set up for their beds—not surprising considering a 2010 study found 28% of respondents said they update Facebook/Twitter before they even get out of bed.

Marla Bartoi, Ph.D., is a professor who teaches clinical psychology at WSU; her research interests include cognitive behavioral treatment of anxiety disorders and depression and substance abuse treatment. She was recently asked to respond to a similar study on social media addiction and noted that MRI screenings have shown that some people are more prone to addictions depending on their brain chemistry. Other factors such as genetics can also factor into the likelihood of addiction, she said. According to Bartoi, addiction to social networking is possible, but it’s not something that she believes everybody is addicted to or will become addicted to.

So if brain chemistry and genetics play a role in this, maybe I’m safe. Then again, taking a quick look at my most recent apps: HootSuite, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and Foursquare are my top hits. Brings to mind a certain Simpsons episode, no Twitter and no Facebook make Karly go something something?

So is social media really an addiction? Technically social networking isn’t a new phenomena, it’s just another form of communicating.  If you think about it as communication – would we go as far as saying someone is addicted to writing post-it notes or talking on the phone? If this is about consumption rather than communication, why are we worried about people being addicted to the internet/social media and not to newspapers or books? There could certainly be similar addictive behavior patterns. Maybe it’s neither, and it’s merely about instant gratification.

Whatever the reason, let’s try not to fear new technologies. We have a long history of concern over technological advances, from the old days of fearing the printing press and the radio (yes, really) to today’s social media zombies. What do you think?  Is the worry about social media addiction really just a worry about new technologies?


Social Media Round Up for February 3rd

By Kirsten McNeill and James Cooper

Kirsten McNeill is a Co-ordinator on the Content and Community team at Social Media Group. Follow @kirstenmcne.
James Cooper is a strategist on the Content and Community team at Social Media Group. Follow @jamescooper

This week, we got our first look into Facebook’s financials with their historic IPO, saw a lot of action on Google+ hangouts, watched a video of Steve Jobs being mocked in an ad for an Android tablet and learned of a partnership between Foursquare and American Express that will save us some money on Pizza Hut pizza for Super Bowl XLVI.

Obama, Giants Hangout on Google+

We saw a lot of action on Google+ this week with both U.S. President Obama and the New York Giants engaging with the public through Google+ Hangouts.

Obama held the first all-digital interview from the White House on Monday night in a Google+ Hangout.  The Hangout — which aired on the White House’s newly created Google+ page — attracted more than 227,000 questions from YouTube users, five of whom were invited to participate in the live event.

To feel the support of their fans and get psyched for Super Bowl this Sunday, the New York Giants hosted Hangouts last night. Twenty lucky fans were randomly selected to chat live with Giants Victor Cruz, Corey Webster, Mark Herzlich and Henry Hynoski.

Fans not selected for the Hangouts weren’t completely left out. They were invited to submit questions to their favourite players via Twitter, Facebook and Google+ using the hashtags: #askBallard, #askSteve, #askSash and #askPrince to be answered during the live webcasts.

Facebook Files an Historic IPO

On Wednesday, Facebook filed for an initial public offering that could value the social network between $75 billion and $100 billion. The offering has put Facebook on track to be one of the biggest U.S. stock-market debuts of all time. The first look at Facebook’s financials showed the company produced a $1 billion profit last year from $3.71 billion in revenues, deriving 85% of those revenues from advertising, with the rest from social gaming and other fees.

Android Tablet Ad Mocks Steve Jobs

A Taiwanese ad for an Android tablet hit YouTube this week with what looked like Steve Jobs, talking up the Android tablet. While not actually mentioning Jobs by name, the ad features Taiwanese comedian and impersonator Ah-Ken dressed in a black turtleneck, jeans and round glasses, with a halo and wings.

See the ad here:

A spokeswoman for Action Electronics, Chelsea Chen, told Reuters that there is nothing wrong with the ad because “Steve Jobs always promoted things that were good for people, Apple products, so his image can also promote other things that are good.”

Apple reps have not made any comments about the ad. What do you think, too soon?

Foursquare + Super Bowl + Pizza Hut + American Express = Savings

Thanks to foursquare and American Express, you’ll be able to save some dough on your Super Bowl pizza order this Sunday. By checking in to the nationwide Super Swarm (which foursquare offered on gameday during last year’s Super Bowl), you’ll be eligible for $5 off at Pizza Hut when you pay for $10 worth of pizza using your American Express card.

Here’s how you take advantage of the deal:

Planning on checking in to get the deal?

Why businesses can no longer ignore social media listening…

As a reformed market research analyst delving into the unstructured world of social media – I often ask myself what is relevant and useful for our clients (noise versus signal)? How can we get through the murk and provide value in a way that impacts our clients’ brand perception and ultimately creates leads and more opportunities for business?

The truth is, for all this good stuff to happen—positive brand perception, customer loyalty and increased leads for business—companies cannot afford to ignore what is going on in social media beyond their owned channels. When I was a child, my mother often told me that there was a reason why I had one mouth and two ears and she said it was because there was more to gain from listening than talking all the time. I believe this applies even more so to companies with established or growing brands. Here are some reasons why social listening matters.

1. The power of word of mouth almost equals the power to express “social right”

Consumers not only have the power of the wallet but also have the power to express their “social right”—views of their experience with a brand on social channels that can build or break your brand. Granted, word of mouth may not be the same as a tweet or blog, but it has the ability to influence opinions and have a huge impact on a brand. According to an article on Social Media Today, 89% of people look online before making a purchase decision by reading reviews, tweets, chatting with friends online, searching discussion forums etc.

With foursquare check-ins being shared via Facebook, there’s an opportunity for cross-platform social influence. For instance, I have seen some status updates recently with negative comments referencing a certain coffee shop. Even though it may not have been in my list of coffee shops to go to, you can bet that I’ve got an opinion about it. If anyone asks me about coffee shops in the area, I might just respond with “I don’t know which one is best, but I have heard terrible things about xx”. If the coffee shop is listening to what people are saying about them on foursquare and other channels, they have an opportunity to redeem their brand by dealing with the complaints as they arise.

2. Social media use and engagement is growing tremendously

There are gazillion statistics on the growth of social media use in general, according to  Facebook, and Pingdom, one in nine people on Earth is on Facebook and people spend 700 billion minutes per month on the site  (which explains the chunks of time lost as I stare, in a trance, at tons of pictures and status updates from people I haven’t seen in over ten years). According to some stats on TechCrunch, Twitter is adding nearly 500,000 users a day, and an average of 190 million tweets occur per day on Twitter – you get the picture. Social media is here to stay and it’s no longer a matter of if it stays but how we are to respond to this growing and engaging new way of communicating. For a business to stay ahead or keep in step with its target market, it’s absolutely necessary that you listen and engage.

3. To gain insights and customer intelligence

There are some interesting actionable insights that companies can gain from listening to what people are saying about them. I have often found it quite useful for our clients to know what social media sites are for and against their brands, as this provides an opportunity to strategize and engage if necessary with their brand detractors and advocates.

A good example is Domino’s Pizza . A couple years ago there was a YouTube video set up by two of their employees that went viral and was a brutal disgrace to the brand. This definitely got the Domino’s management ears perked and they were not only ready to listen to their customers but also open to engaging with them so they re-launched their pizzas in a new campaign that integrated what their customers were saying. As a result of listening the company was able to make a complete turnaround for their brand. And they continue to listen…

The social media world is here to stay; your best bet is to get with the program and listen. As popular author Harvey Mackay says, “You learn when you listen. You earn when you listen—not just money, but respect.” Make the resolution to listen in 2012.

Here is a social media listening infographic from

Social Media Listening

Why Are Women Afraid of Foursquare?

Recently, I made the decision to join Foursquare a location-based social network for mobile devices. The service came to market in 2009 and has steadily been growing in popularity with users internationally. However, despite the healthy growth of the service there has been a noticeable gap in the demographics, specifically women.

This raised the natural question, why? I used myself as a template for an introspective look at Foursquare. Why did I join it? Why did it take me so long to join the community? And did I have any apprehensions about using it? I joined out of curiosity. I was late at adopting it as I wasn’t sure I would be active on it, and speaking to the apprehension – I was initially wary but have since embraced the technology.

When you examine why women are hesitating to use the social network, there appears to be one singular issue. The issue is safety. How comfortable am I broadcasting to the world where I am at any given time when I check in somewhere? From an outside standpoint, I can agree with the hesitation to use the software due to that reason. This was the primary reason it took me quite a while to digest the concept before signing up. But here is the caveat to that thinking. You have control over who your friends are. If you are the one driving then you can make the decision to share this information with as many or as few individuals you want. In essence this cancels out the issue of safety and makes it more of preconceived notion vs. an actual issue.

But what if you ‘friend’ someone on good terms and it turns sour? How many people actually heavily monitor their social media profiles? I don’t monitor who is following me, does that make me irresponsible? I don’t think so, as at the end of the day, you control the situation. If you make the conscious choice to not manage your profile and it leads to an issue, technically it can be rooted back to the end user. The issue of safety with Foursquare is no different than using similar network software called  Facebook Places.  I frequently see updates from friends on their locations via this network. Doing that is really no different than the Foursquare concept.

For me, my Foursquare account is linked to my Twitter feed by choice. Whenever I log in, Twitter will broadcast it. I personally am not worried about my safety. When I do check-in somewhere, it’s always a public place and usually well populated. I am also in control of where I want to check in. For example, I never check in to my home address. Really, who honestly cares that I am at home?

If you strip away all the safety concerns, then what value does Foursquare bring to me? If I am the only one in my immediate social group on it, would I not be better off just calling my friends? I use the network because I actually like the functionality behind Foursquare, and for me it’s simply a novelty.  I am all about the social game aspect of the network. When I become the mayor of a coffee shop I frequent or a spin studio I may attend I do have the momentary “that’s awesome” feeling inside, I admit it. For example, in my office there is an ongoing competition to see who can maintain  the mayor status. Everyday, my co-workers and I all log in with the hope of ousting the current mayor and taking over.   In my previous role, I was frequently on the road attending and covering events and it made sense to be on Foursquare so bloggers following me could either pipe up with questions on the event I was at or join me. But, how does this tie in to the lack of women wanting to be a part of the service?

I think it’s a combination of privacy and control. I think that most women, despite the reality that they do completely control the content, feel some level of hesitation. They are worried that they will encourage unsuspecting admirers to randomly show up or they simply don’t feel comfortable with the knowledge that anyone can know where they are at any given time. At the end of the day, the preconceptions about it are really quite nonsensical. You are the driver, you make the decisions.

For more discussion on the topic check out Why do women avoid check in services? from the Globe and Mail.

Happy Holidays from Team SMG

It’s the last official working day of 2010 for those of us who work at SMG, as we’ll all be taking some time off next week to celebrate the holidays and ring in the new year.

We’ll leave you with one of our favorite videos from this week, the story of the nativity as told through social media.

(How great is the rental donkey?)

Happy holidays and looking forward to a great 2011!