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Swarm App by Foursquare Transforms Mobile Users into Influencers


In May 2014, Foursquare released Swarm, an app that allows users to check into locations and follow their friends' activities.

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It should be. In fact, most initial reactions to the release of Swarm were that of frustration as users realized the app's functions mirrored those of the original Foursquare many had grown to love. Yet, according to International Business Insider, Foursquare's split made sense because only one in twenty consumers were using the original app for both check-ins and search. Consequently, Swarm became the product of an app unbundling process by Foursquare, similar to how Facebook unbundled its mobile into single platforms such as Messenger and Groups. So, while Foursquare focused on developing one main service: personalized, local search, Swarm became the place to check-in and follow your friends.

So, we ask ourselves, why is Swarm ranked 174th in the App Store and why are people angry about it looking exactly like the original Foursquare?

I believe that the primary reason why the app is not as popular as one would expect is that there simply is a lack of knowledge about Swarm and Foursquare's “app unbundling” process.

Let's start with Swarm’s uses:

  • Check in to earn prizes and compete with friends to see who's having the best week on the leaderboard
  • Try to earn the Mayor title at your favorite spots by checking in every time you visit
  • Keep track of where you've been and who've you hung out with
  • See who's hanging out nearby
  • Send a message to your friends to make plans to meet up

Sounds fun, right? To echo the Swarm's description in the App Store, "Swarm turns every day into a game!" So even when you are eating your usual meal at your favorite local restaurant, you don't feel an overwhelming sense of ordinariness. With Swarm, you’re playing a game and, "the usual," with its feelings of stillness and bore, suddenly becomes spontaneous and full of life. To a Millennial generation of mobile users who have been described as apathetic in the past - but who have learned that emotions are the future of technology - Swarm redefines social media as a way of living, where emotions are generated through movement and gamification, instead of just being expressed or represented.

I spoke with one of Foursquare's marketing interns about why she loves Swarm. Here's what she had to say:

I like Swarm because it's fun to keep a record of the places I visit, and because I love to see where my friends are and have been. It's especially awesome when you check in somewhere and see that your friend is at a venue nearby. With Swarm, you can actually arrange a run-in with them.

Hearing this, I understood her point. And then, as though reading our mind, she added:

And of course I love it because it keeps a record of the places I've been to in my Foursquare app, as well, so that I won't forget to rate places or leave tips. I can also use Swarm to share my experience with the Foursquare community.

What I got from this explanation is that yes, Swarm is an unpopular stand-alone app, but it was specifically made to complement your Foursquare experience, not be its own thing. When you check in on Swarm, Foursquare reminds you to rate the place you visited and provide a tip. And because it is the primary means through which you check in, Swarm enhances networking among Foursquare's community of users.

However, the two diverge as a result of gamification, the main difference between Swarm and the original Foursquare. Furthermore, as Swarm users collects coins, stickers, prizes and Mayorships (previously a Foursquare feature), the more they start to represent actual capital, and in an even stranger way, the establishments they visit. So, as much as Swarm generates fun and games, winners and losers, leaders and followers, the app actually extracts value from a user's consumer experience instead of simply identifying a user’s desired location as Foursquare does with its personalized searches. 

This reading of Swarm's user experience adds a branding aspect to Swarm that Foursquare lacks, where users actually become live, branded social content that people consume. In other words, Swarm is a marketing haven because it exposes users to previously unknown businesses by allowing them to create and follow a network of friends. In this way, each user is an influencer. I would go so far as to conjecture that the app's gamifying features (i.e. the leaderboard) actually drive sales and increase customer conversion rates because it makes the user want to check in and reap their rewards. Thus, in reaching previously untapped audiences, small businesses without developed social strategies could benefit from Swarm's potential for user-generated content marketing the most.

What I’ve learned is that the Foursquare/Swarm split wasn't just an app unbundling process, but a strategic redistribution (followed by an enhancement) of services that became exclusive to Swarm, yet continued to supplement Foursquare. All the while, Swarm was built to visually resemble the original Foursquare app, while being successful enough as a stand-alone app. And this is ultimately why Swarm is unpopular, because it's seen as Foursquare's past self, ugly sibling or fierce competitor; when in reality it's Foursquare's gamifying descendent, doing what its role model should have done for users and businesses from the start (and doing it really well), even if mobile users don’t see what I see quite yet…

This post was written by current Renegade intern Sam Oriach. You can follow him on Twitter @samoriach.

Social News Roundup | August 7, 2015


1. The Five C’s of Social Media Success


Photo courtesy of SocialTimes

SocialTimes reveals the five keys to a successful social media presence. For example, developing engaging content can help increase engagement, despite the decline in organic reach. Discover all of the 5 C’s of social media success here.

2. Social 2.0: What “Project Lightning” and “See First” Mean For Brands


Photo courtesy of SocialTimes

Brands can benefit from Facebook’s new “See First” feature and Twitter’s “Project Lightning” by offering more timely promotions and enhancing real-time engagement. Find out more about how brands can take advantage of these opportunities.

3. 10 Brands Doing an Amazing Job on Social Media

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Photo courtesy of SocialTimes

These ten brands, including Oreo, Netflix and Pampers, are curating engaging content and, overall, doing an amazing job on social. See how you can learn from these brands.

4. Facebook is Killing Email: Offering More Ways to Message a Brand Page


Photo courtesy of SocialTimes

Facebook has made pages message-friendly, and has announced a plan for businesses to communicate with consumers post-sale. This quick and convenient new feature may change the way brands and their customers communicate going forward. See the full update here.

5. Facebook Launches Live Streaming, but Only for Famous People


Photo courtesy of Mashable

Following in the footsteps of Periscope and Meerkat, Facebook has released a new live streaming service for celebrities to give users a behind-the-scenes look at their lives. All of the details about the new feature can be seen in this article on Mashable.

6. Social Logins are Shaping the Future of Digital Identity


Photo courtesy of SocialTimes

More and more sites are adapting social logins as a means of providing a personalized experience for users. Consumers no longer need a long list of passwords to remember, and businesses can learn more about their consumers with more personal information. Learn about social logins in this SocialTimes piece.

Why 8 Seconds Can Make or Break Your Social Media


Do you find yourself getting distracted when you’re scrolling through your social media feeds and rapidly jumping from one platform to the next? You are not alone – in fact, humans have a smaller attention span than goldfish! If your brand’s content doesn’t snag your audience’s attention in 8 seconds, you may be losing out on potential followers. 

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Platforms such as Facebook and Snapchat have recognized humans’ short attention spans, and are implementing new features to display targeted and engaging content at the top of people’s feeds to ensure that their eye’s don’t wander.   

With users now able to choose which friends and pages they want to see at the top of their news feeds, it’s important to make sure your brand is at the top of their list. A surefire way to engage your brand’s followers and attract new ones is to add rich media to your posts. Humans are visually inclined and according to Social Times, content that includes visuals produces 180% more engagement than content without them. So spice up your statuses by adding a quick ‘how-to’ video or demonstrative infographic.

However, visuals won’t successfully captivate followers without strong text to accompany them. Catchy and informative language goes hand-in-hand with imagery – calls-to-action are a must. This action-based language creates a sense of urgency, promoting the user to click on your page and engage with your brand. 

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Another thought to keep in mind to retain users and obtain new ones is to keep your content fresh, authentic and original. While it’s important to maintain a brand voice that is consistent with your company’s objectives, you can experiment with a wide range of content to see what generates the most interactions, such as a rap battle to showcase your company’s culture or a funny video to demonstrate how to use your company’s product.

The stakes are high when it comes to online engagement. People are quick to move along when perusing their news feeds, so make sure your content is targeted and eye capturing. Eight seconds is a small time frame, but it can make a huge difference for your brand.  

Social News Roundup | July 10, 2015


1. When to Post to Facebook and Twitter for Maximum Responses


Photo courtesy of SocialTimes

Klout and Lithium Technologies found that maximum engagement for Twitter and Facebook is between 7 and 8 p.m. Discover more social media posting strategies in this SocialTimes piece.


2. Visual Media Changes How Humans Consume Information (Infographic)


Photo courtesy of SocialTimes

Humans are processing information differently with an increase in consumption of visual media. For example, 81% of people skim articles instead of reading them online. Find out how brands should evolve in this infographic.

3. 4 Recommendations (and 1 Calculation) to Improve Social Media Engagement


Photo courtesy of SocialTimes

One way to improve your brand’s social media engagement is to have a deeper understanding of your audience. Check out the other ways here.

4. Facebook’s New Floating Video Feature Lets You Scroll While You Watch


Photo courtesy of Mashable

As if our attention spans weren’t already too short, Facebook now lets you watch videos while you peruse your newsfeed. Find out the full scoop on Mashable.

5. 10 Characteristics of Killer Twitter CTAs You Can Use Today


Photo courtesy of SocialTimes

Including a call-to-action (CTA) in your tweet can help your brand increase engagement with its audience. Discover  ten attributes to keep in mind when prompting your target to take action.

6. Mobile Draws Stronger Neurological Responses Than TV (Study)


Photo courtesy of SocialTimes

A recent study by Facebook IQ and agency SalesBrain showed that our proximity to the mobile screen makes us more attentive than when watching TV. Check out this and other key takeaways for marketers here.

Spice up your social strategy – sports teams are some of the best in the game


Sports teams are an instant starting point for conversation. When I see someone wearing a Warriors shirt in line at a coffee shop, I can’t help but talk to them. Similar interactions occur in the online domain. Social media provides an essential avenue for bringing strangers together with a little friendly banter. Indeed, sports and social media go hand-in-hand; watching games typically generates active participation, and for many, this means taking the conversation off the field and online by tweeting, posting, sharing, and commenting.

In a recent campaign, two New York soccer teams held a Twitter battle where the team who had the greatest Twitter presence secured an opportunity to light up the Empire State Building in its team colors. Both soccer squads circulated the twittersphere, with fans tweeting either #NYCFC for the New York City FC or #RBNY for the New York Red Bulls. While the New York City FC was ultimately the victor, the contest had positive externalities other than illuminating the city in one team’s colors; this campaign fostered genuine interactions and generated free exposure.

Twitter hosted a similar campaign for the Super Bowl XLVIII, in which fans would tweet their predictions for the winner of the match-up between the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos. Turns out that Twitter was right – the hashtag champion was also the winner on the field.  

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Photo courtesy of Twitter Blog. 

Through calls-to-action and engagement opportunities, these platforms are practically begging for participation, and sports is an easy topic to get people talking. In another targeted campaign, Facebook used the NBA Finals as an opportunity to spark status updates.

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Photo courtesy of Social Times. 

This social strategy is a smart one because it pinpoints a popular event that the user is interested in, and invites him or her to respond by presenting the question: What’s on your mind?

Sports fans are in fact some of the most active social media users. In a recent survey of 10,000 women regarding the 2015 Women’s World Cup, 99% were considered to be active participants on social media, and 61% said they intended to use social media for updates on the action. 

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Photo courtesy of Social Times. 

With 73% of those surveyed using Facebook as their primary platform, this channel would be a great place to focus your brand’s next marketing effort. Kick off your campaign with calls-to-action – a crucial element in driving engagement.

The strategies behind these social campaigns can be extended beyond the realm of sports. Brands can utilize social channels by prompting customers to share their opinions through hashtag competitions, Instagram photo contests and polls. Get creative! If you score on social, chances are your brand will be a winner offline too! 

Social News Roundup | June 19, 2015


1. Study: Facebook Posts to Brands’ Pages Fall on Deaf Ears

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Photo courtesy of Social Times

87 percent of posts to brands’ Facebook pages go unanswered. Active pages responded to only 37 percent of posts to their page. Find out more about what page administrators should do here.


2. How to Improve Organic Reach on Facebook (Infographic)

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Photo courtesy of Social Times

There has been a consistent decline in organic reach for brands on Facebook. Social Times offers some possible solutions. 


3. Social Media is Stuck in the Workplace Friend Zone (Infographic)

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Photo courtesy of Social Times

Most people see social media as a useful way to keep in touch with friends. Its reputation as a distraction keeps social media from becoming valuable in the workplace. See the full infographic

4. Pinterest Unveils Smarter Search Feature and Verified Accounts

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Photo courtesy of Social Times

Pinterest users can now see what topics are trending on the platform. Additionally, brands can become verified with a red check mark so that users know that their pages are legitimate. Find out more here.  


5. Twitter to Advertisers: 100% Viewability on Autoplay Videos- Or It’s Free!

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Photo courtesy of Social Times

Twitter will only charge advertisers for videos if they have been watched for at least three seconds and are fully in view on the device. As users scroll through the Twitter feed, native videos or GIFs will play automatically, but sound will only play when the users taps on the video. Learn more here.


6. Here Are the 12 Best Facebook Marketing Campaigns From the Past Year

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Photo courtesy of AdWeek

Check out this year’s most successful social campaigns on Facebook, including the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and Always’ #LikeAGirl.

Social News Roundup | June, 12, 2015


1. 3 Surprising Benefits of Scheduling Your Tweets 

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Photo courtesy of AdWeek

Scheduling your Tweets ahead of time helps to create a stronger and more consistent brand voice, allows you to be creative and can relieve stress. Read more here.

2. American Pharoah May Be The Most Brand Friendly Horse Ever

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Photo courtesy of AdWeek

The last time a horse won a Triple Crown, 1978, was years before many advances in the digital world and ad industry. Even before American Pharoah’s win, he had marketing deals, and was making history in advertising. See some of his deals here

3. 5 Ways to Maintain Brand Cohesion on Social Media

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Photo courtesy of Social Times

Social Times shares the 5 ways to make sure that your brand has a consistent voice on social media. Check out the full infographic.


4. May Media Publishers Report: Bleacher Report, BuzzFeed Video on the Rise

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Photo courtesy of AdWeek

BuzzFeed Video has seen the highest increase in engagement- 45% up from April- across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

See the full report.


5. Instagram Cleans Up Its Website To Mimic Mobile and Make Photos Pop

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Photo courtesy of Mashable 





Take a look for yourself.


6. Facebook Now Wants You to Explore What’s Trending in 5 Topics

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Photo courtesy of Mashable

Facebook is testing the organization of its Trending section on the homepage. The updates to this area will help make Facebook an effective distribution platform for publishers to share their content.

Here’s more information.

Social Media Changes the Landscape of Political News and Campaigning


If you wish to increase awareness of political news amongst the Millennial generation, Facebook is the outlet to use. A study by the Pew Research Center, Millennials and Political News, shows that 61% of Millennials received political news in the last week from Facebook, while only 39% of Baby Boomers had. A majority of Baby Boomers continue to rely on local TV as their primary political news source.

The amount of times that young adults, including myself, check social media news feeds on a daily basis causes us to be infiltrated with content. Along with a trend of increased exposure to social media among young adults, there is a general downward trend in political awareness and interest, compared to those of older generations, according to the study.Untitled:Users:renegade:Desktop:PJ_15.06.01_millennialMedia08.png

Photo courtesy of Pew Research Center 

Millennials are likely obtaining political news on Facebook not because they are actively seeking it out, but because they are seeing more of everything on Facebook.

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Photo courtesy of CNN

As we saw in mid-April with Hillary Clinton’s presidential run announcement, social media is effective in grabbing public attention and spreading a message quickly. Clinton’s campaign website was launched at 3 p.m. on April 12, a video was posted to Facebook 10 minutes later announcing her campaign and by 3:30 p.m. she had tweeted her decision to run. Time will tell if Clinton’s decision to utilize heavy social media efforts will help her to gain the support of voters aged 18-33.

This study enlightens marketers and political campaigners alike in that in order to capture the attention of the Millennial generation, despite a downward trend in interest in political news, an active social media campaign can prove to be beneficial in increasing political awareness and engagement among these young adults.

Social News Roundup | May 29, 2015


1) Not one brand ranks in the Top 100 for YouTube

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Image courtesy of Adweek

Native YouTube creators have loyal followings most brands can only dream of. To keep from falling too far behind, brands should take note of the tips found here... 


2) When it comes to Facebook, timing is everything


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50% of all likes, comments, and shares will be posted in the first 60 minutes. Posting at night will get you the most of all three. For the exact hour, click here... 


3) The good and the bad of encouraging employees to be brand advocates. 

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Image courtesy of Adweek

Employees can be your biggest and best brand advocates. On the flip side, they might have arguments on social media with your company prominently attached to their profile. You can find both sides of the argument here... 


4) No surprise here – Brands focus the majority of their efforts on Facebook.

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Image courtesy of SocialTimes

Facebook is still the most heavily used social network in the world, capturing over 30% of world social marketing spend. Find the full article here... 


5) Ever receive a message and have no idea who it’s from? 


Image courtesy of Adweek

Facebook has got your back with some contextual info. The social media network will now give you pertinent information on how you might know the person in question. Click here for the full article. 

Social News Roundup | May 22, 2015


1) Facebook IQ shares the blueprint for successful summer branding. 

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Photo courtesy of SocialTimes

As people head outdoors, their mobile devices come with them. This summer focus on mobile, as 70% of people who connected to Facebook did so through mobile. To see the full infographic click here.


2) Social media etiquette lessons: 7 ways to say thank you on Twitter. 

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Photo courtesy of Adweek

Just because you're online doesn't mean manners fly out the window. Retweeting and favoriting are the easiest ways to thank someone, but you'll find more ways here...


3) Snapchat's CEO reveals why he said no to Facebook's $3 billion offer.

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Photo courtesy of Mashable

"There are very few people in the world who get to build a business like this...I think trading that for some short-term gain isn't very interesting." Find the full article here...


4) Social networks are shown to increase stress, are we better off without them? 


Photo courtesy of The Huffington Post

You might think that social networks are a necessity to life, yet only 60% of Americans belong to one. A full 83% of respondents claimed belonging to a social network made their lives more stressful. Is it time to disconnect? Click here for more. 


5) Its official: President Obama is on Twitter and is breaking records.

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Photo courtesy of Adweek

Banter between President Obama and Bill Clinton stole the show, but within hours trolls were going after the POTUS. Find the full article here...

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