In May 2014, Foursquare released Swarm, an app that allows users to check into locations and follow their friends' activities.
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.
1. In 2015, Posts which are “Too promotional” will get Minimal Reach on Facebook
Photo Courtesy of Newsroom.fb
After Facebook spent some time analyzing its data to better understand what users like to see in their news feeds, they found that the content users considered “too promotional” was actually coming from pages they like, rather than ads. So, what does this mean? Facebook pages that post promotional content will see a significant decrease in their organic distribution beginning in 2015. Read more...
2. Facebook Mobile Ads Are The Way To Go During The Holiday Shopping Season
Photo Courtesy of AllFacebook
New research has found that 75% of social media users who interact with ads are most likely to do so with mobile ads on Facebook. Expect prices for these types of ads to soar! Read more...
3. Tumblr and Pinterest are Two of the Fastest Growing Social Media Sites
Photo Courtesy of MediaBistro
New data shows that during the past 6 months Tumblr, Pinterest and Instagram have grown 120%, 111% and 64% respectively whereas Twitter has only grown 26% and Facebook only 2%. Read more...
4. Changes In Tumblr’s Format Upsets Its Core User Base
Photo Courtesy of SocialTimes
Yahoo acquired Tumblr 18 months ago and just recently decided to introduce video ads to derive revenue from the site. This resulted in a lot of angry Tumblr users, with over 500,000 signatures on a Change.com page petitioning the recent changes. Read more...
5. Snapcash Allows You To Pay Friends In The Blink Of An Eye
Video Courtesy of https://www.youtube.com/user/OfficialSnapchat/videos
After inputting their debit or credit card information, Snapchat users can now easily send money to each other in private messages via a new feature called Snapcash. This is Snapchat’s first ever partnership with another company. Read More...
6. Local Facebook Page Engagements > Global Facebook Page Engagement
Photo Courtesy of AllFacebook
A new study has found that local Facebook pages receive 107% more interactions than global pages. Read more...
7. Facebook At Work
Photo Courtesy of Pixabay
Facebook is working on a website called “Facebook at Work,” which will allow users to “chat with colleagues, connect with professional contacts and collaborate over documents.”. Read more...
8. Facebook Releases Facebook Groups App
Photo Courtesy of AllFacebook
According to Facebook’s co-founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, around 700 million users interact with Facebook groups on a monthly basis. The new stand-alone app is meant to help users share information with their groups more easily and quickly. Read more...
Mobile traffic is growing rapidly and marketers need to learn how to adjust brand content to this trend. Mobile marketing and its related strategies, such as location-based marketing, have gained traction. BI Intelligence found that 91% of companies plan to increase their investments in location-based marketing.
At Renegade, we want to know how significant the growing mobile usage is on social media as it relates to brands. We looked at four brands from different industries on Facebook and compared the percentage of Likes gained from mobile users on a daily basis over a seven-month period.
The combined daily average percentage trend varied in the internet, telecom, travel, and food/nutrition industries. However, there was a 6.42% increase in mobile Likes overall. More notable is that the low points of the likes in the last three months for every industry are higher than the first three months. This indicates that it’s not just the spike driving the increasing trend, but the concentration of mobile activity overall.
Looking at the industries individually, the study showed the food/nutrition brand had an average of 18% mobile Likes, except a slight lapse in October. The Internet brand grew its mobile Likes to 5% in the New Year. The telecom brand’s mobile Likes increased in October for two months, similar to the travel brand’s significant growth, which is attributed to the holiday season.
These findings correspond to Forbes’ industry prediction that “Mobile is the future of everything.” According to Forbes, mobile is replacing desktop consumption overall, and you can expect to see continued growth in social media engagement.
Tips for building a mobile brand
As mobile becomes an increasingly important part of marketing in 2014, brands should take steps to improve their mobile performance.
Adapt your website to have a responsive design to provide a streamline viewer experience on smartphones and tablets.
Consider how you construct your content to make it easier to read and navigate by optimizing font size, buttons, and video length.
A mobile app is also an option but keep in mind the investment an app requires versus mobile-optimized online content.
Your brand needs to go where the audiences are across all channels. Now go mobile!
Methodology: With data from Facebook Insights, daily page likes gained from mobile, mobile ads, mobile page browser, mobile page browser invite, and mobile page suggestions were combined as mobile likes. These mobile likes were compared to the total likes on daily and monthly bases. Data was collected from July 1, 2013 to January 31, 2014.
In this week’s social media roundup, we scoured the Internet for the stories you may have missed and have found six that are worth a read.
1) Some banks miss the mark with older customers’ online experience. - A recent survey of baby boomers confirmed that some banks should reevaluate the online experience they provide. This speaks to banks’ broader problems transitioning to the digital sphere with online banking and social media platforms.
2) What would the iconic Wall Street Bull say if he could speak for himself? - This short film follows the life story of the bull from its birth to its transition to a symbol of financial excess, all through his truly New York perspective. The film is nominated for Smithsonian Magazine's In Motion video contest.
3) Mobile ad revenue will top $1 billion in 2013. - A recent eMarketer study says that mobile payments at point-of-sale will top $58 billion by 2017. Delays in technology and adoption have hindered growth in recent years, but one-third of brands plan to have mobile payment options in the near future.
4) This hugging chair brings to life Facebook birthday wishes. - Outback Steakhouse and ad agency Lew'Lara/TBWA have created the B-day Chair, which gives patrons some tangible love when connected to their Facebook accounts.
5) Online publishers now have a way to track and monetize copied text. - When a user highlights more than eight words on a page synced with Share Text, the app presents several sharing options, ensuring that the publisher always knows where their words are headed.
6) There are several simple solutions to common productivity problems. - Over-absorbing, over-scheduling, over-multi-tasking, and procrastinating are habits easily developed, but also easily broken, with a little bit of psychology.
From gaming and social video to personal money and time management, there is indeed a mobile app for everything…or so it may seem. Today’s mobile applications are cheaper and easier to build than ever before. This growth has primarily been fueled by the rapid innovation in mobile technology, which is predicted to soon replace Web 2.0 altogether. With that said, what elements will comprise the successfully viral mobile apps of tomorrow, and who will create them? In varying degrees, future viral apps will embody the five integral elements listed below.
(1) Solve real problems
The viral mobile applications of tomorrow must aim beyond solving small problems. Historically, web applications (including mobile) spread quickly because they addressed our basic individual needs, such as human connection (Facebook, and LinkedIn), knowledge of our immediate surroundings (Foursquare), and discovery of our personal interests (Pinterest, Spotify, StumbleUpon).
It should come to no surprise, however, that there are huge problems affecting billions of people daily—problems much bigger than being the next “Instagram for video.” Although these issues may be quite complex, it is possible that the capabilities afforded by emerging mobile technologies and social media actually could make the mobile apps of the future the missing pieces to the puzzle.
(2) Deep Design
It is becoming increasingly common for mobile and web app founders to consult with UI/UX designers before partnering with actual developers. User experience is everything, and its nuances can make or break the success of an app. Pinterest, for example, utilizes technology that isn’t that much different from Tumblr’s—both are microblogging platforms. Pinterest’s pin board design, however, is a simpler, more intuitive way to display what can seem like an overwhelming amount of information.
Mobile apps, in particular, are operated on devices designed for touch. This requires developers to think ergonomically in designing apps for fingers and thumbs. Whether on the run, in the kitchen, or waiting in the airport, understanding how, where, and when your target audience uses your app is needed for proper design.
Flipboard is an example of a mobile iPhone and iPad app that has brought a familiar element of touch back to the publications we consume. Users “flip” through pages of a digital magazine by swiping their finger over the screen in way that resembles flipping through its paper counterpart.
No longer is design an afterthought to a product’s development. Design has the capability to completely alter the definition and use of a product and set the tone for its relationship with the user. Those who build tomorrow’s viral apps will be visual decoders of sorts—gathering and visually organizing information in a way that is appealing, simplified, and engaging while fully recognizing the relationship between the user and mobile device.
Upon establishing the purpose of the app and approaching the design of the user experience, the following elements are also key:
(3) Instant utility via simplicity
How long does it take the user to realize the core benefit of the app? Are there tasks or processes that could be simplified? Apps will differ in complexity based on their purpose and target audience, but simplicity should be achieved in the app wherever possible, whether it’s reducing steps to complete a task or finding a way to accomplish a specific thing that was once quite complex. Much of what makes Instagram engaging is the app’s ability to apply a number of beautiful visual effects to a photo without the need of a comprehensive photo-editor.
How often would anyone want to use an app again, and who would do so? Successfully viral apps typically give users a strong reason to come back by fulfilling an important or unique task, and/or by finding a way to engage with users like no other app does. Angry Birds is amongst thousands of other games in our mobile marketplaces, but its simplicity, comedic storyline, and variety of harder levels encourages users to come back for more.
Is this an app that users would likely share with others? The app can be interesting enough for users to share it on their Facebook Walls, or the app can have extended social functionality. Draw Something is an example of a sharable app by its ability to bring two people together (either friends or strangers) for a friendly drawing competition. Via a simple and engaging utility, Draw Something built a social gaming experience around something that many people already love to do—draw and doodle. Ultimately, developers must understand the extent and the means by which users will engage others with the app.
Although there isn’t a clear-cut formula as to what embodies a viral mobile app, the ones that are viral have varying degrees of the above elements. Entrepreneurs, developers, and brands should find innovative ways and approaches for their apps to encompass these elements. In the words of Forbes technology contributor, Eric Jackson, “Fortunes will be made by those who adapt to and invest in this new greenfield [mobile applications]. Those who own the future are going to be the ones who create it. It’s all up for grabs.”
-- Thomas Varner
Late last Friday, I caught an article link to springwise about Adidas' new iPhone app,Adidas Urban Art Guide to Berlin. This was right after I read a good little post on The Customer Collective about being a great salesman by providing value for your customers, while acknowledging the sale as only the byproduct of the business to consumer relationship.
Needless to say, Adidas recognizes its reputation as an urban brand, and by engaging its customers through their interests, increases its street cred. This is obviously a situation in which taking an indirect route to a sale will benefit a brand and further its influence in the culture within which it is already associated, thereby if not attracting more loyal customers, retaining the ones it already has. Thanks for the great example, Adidas!
Want more choice than the classic white casing of the iPod empire? Enter the Pez mp3 player
… designed by a stay-at-home dad, it holds 512 mb of music and is less than $100. It even comes with some pre-loaded music, which Shecky’s
claims runs in the indie vein.