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Don't Stop at Onboarding New Users. Example from Foursquare.

I rarely visit (it's one of those destinations that is almost entirely mobile). Nevertheless, Foursquare is doing very interesting stuff on its .com and is clearly focused on using the web to build out deeper content, directories, etc. So I visited and this was the above-the-fold module I was first presented with. There isn't much ground-breaking - or even truly unique - about it. But it is highly relevant to a theme I have been thinking & talking a lot about recently: active user experience and optimization.

What does this awkward string mean? In short: so much attention is paid to new user experience (registration, conversion, onboarding, etc) that current users are somewhat neglected. Of course active users are not neglected from the a product experience - but the same care with which newbies are onboarded should be given to active users. Conversions don't stop after the registration flow:

- vistor >> - new user >> - active user >> - highly engaged user >> - super user (top 1%)

Back to the seemingly ordinary screenshot I included. It prompted this post because of the care that is given to driving deeper engagement and networking:

1. Tailored for the destination First, Foursquare understands that the act of networking is more efficient / powerful on the web than on mobile

2. Drive to a specific action They also realize that the more friends the better: notifications, engagement, virality, etc

3. Lots of opportunity And that I have 889 Facebook friends on Foursquare (wow) - yet am only connected with a handful of them

4. High converting design So they present this to me boldly, using the Facebook Facepile and a big, bright green Find Friends button.

Again, this is a minor example - but it speaks to the care with which Foursquare is thinking about driving activity as much as they are about new user onboarding.

Redbox Delivers Rewards Through SMS Activation, Foursquare

Redbox continues its string of smart, rewarding marketing campaigns. Redbox has provided discounts and rewards for email and site activity - realizing that the value of certain acitvities (validated email address) far exceeds the cost of a free movie or two. Here's another: Redbox is running 10 days of discounts & rewards for users who active their mobile phones through SMS (Foursquare too). Again, Redbox intelligently views this as a way to acquire mobile users / activity. In that regard, it is a marketing promotion that will drive discounted short term activity but has longer term value thanks to deeper customer data / touch points.

Redbox is smart. And worth paying attention.

Utilize the Mobile App Update Section. Examples of FourSquare, Path & Square.

Maybe I am too much of a geek, but I actually enjoy reading application version updates. I assume most people do not read them thoroughly (many do not regularly update their apps either), but it is a really simple way to communicate with users and share what's new. It is so simple to do... and yet so often forgotten.

Most app updates read something along the lines of: - "fixed crashes" - "fixed various bugs" - "app runs faster"

In fact, I've seen many that say "the free version now has ads". Yeah, that's going to make me download the update!

Here are three great examples from three great apps: Foursquare, Path and Square. I particularly like the Path update because the app underwent a significant product change... this update is their first opportunity to introduce existing users to the changes. Of course, the app experience itself should also introduce / familiarize those changes.... but this is such an easy way to get started. And because so many developers overlook it, the mere attempt to communicate changes distinguishes these apps:

Starbucks Cards: Game Mechanics Done Well

Last week I wrote about the "do's and don'ts of gamification"... in other words, how to effectively add game mechanics to your site / service. Thanks to the success of leaders like Zynga and Foursquare, companies across different verticals are layering game mechanics to their product. In my last post, I wrote that the key to successful "gamification" is to make surre that game mechanics [are] natural, rewarding and straightforward.

Here is a great example from Starbucks (who generally always does a great job on the social and marketing fronts).

You'll notice a few things with the below screenshots:

1. It is Natural: Starbucks has not created a new program here... rather, they have tied it in to the Starbucks Card system that has been around for years. This is just an incentive to register and actively use your card.

2. It is Rewarding: In fact, the Starbucks Card program comes from the "Starbucks Rewards Team" and card-holders are notified of their status, their rewards and their goals.

3. It Progresses: As you progress through various levels are membership ("black, green, gold"), you earn different rewards. Starbucks clearly defines your 'status', your rewards and what is needed to reach the next 'level'. Again, the program is straightforward and rewarding.

4. It is Accessible Email, & Mobile: The program has several reach / access points. The emails are well crafted and targeted to the specific user's 'status' (notice below an email sent to a green member and gold member).

5. It is Social: Below you will also see an example of sharing your purchase and rewards in Facebook. The image is specific to your status / balance and is tied to a check-in via Facebook Places.

Starbucks email sent to a Gold member:

Starbucks email sent to a Green member:

What the check-in looks like on the Facebook feed

And the custom Starbucks Rewards graphic on Facebook

Starbucks Already Advertises Against Facebook Places Offers

Today Facebook shook up the local deals space with their Facebook Places announcement: the local deal platform which now competes directly with Foursquare, Yelp, Groupon, etc. Facebook launched with twenty premier partners who represented different industries (Gap :: retail; Palms :: hotel; Starbucks : food; Golden State Warriors :: sports; etc). The platform will quickly expand to 20,000 local businesses and then a self-serve platform. Considering Facebook's size, mobile usage and collection of brands / business owners - this is a big deal.

... And Starbucks seems to recognize that. Immediately after the Facebook announcement, they began advertising with premium Facebook ads - specifically promoting their places offer: "Starbucks will donate $1 per Facebook Places check-in up to $75,000 to Conservation Intl. Help us protect 5,000 acres of forest land."

The Power of Statistics & Dashboards ( as an example)

In May of 2008 I wrote that statistics - specifically around referrals and influencers - could be a sizeable business model for Twitter. Last week, launched publicly. It's a gorgeous site creator that allows very simple page creation and automatically pulls in content from your social presences: ie Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Wordpress, etc. You can view mine at

Much can be written about this - SEO, self-branding, social aggregators, etc. But I want to return to the premise that my 2008 article about Twitter and statistics... because one of the great features of is their "dashboard":

First, the dashboard gets users to return to the site... making it "sticky" in an environment that might not otherwise encourage daily usage (after all, the service automatically updates all of your presences!).

Second, it is addictive... in the same way that game mechanics make other sites sticky and why Twitter's follow count can be credited with some of their early growth.

Third, it encourages promotion. Want more views and visitors? Promote your page via Twitter, Facebook and email (of course makes that easy).

Fourth, it is really useful and interesting... and unique. There are statistics on visits, views, etc - but more interesting, there are stats on the number of status updates pulled in, your total reach, the @replies, etc. Powerful ways to unite the data around "influencers" and your page will emerge over time.

So how can you apply similar mechanics and a "Dashboard" mentality to your experience?

(un)Attractive Foursquare Mayor Offers

Traveling this week, I checked into Boston's Logan Airport on Foursquare. I noticed that a special 'local offer' existed. Hoping it was discounted Dunkin Donuts coffee, I took a look and uncovered one of that strangest Foursquare Mayor Offers I have seen: The mayor of Logan Airport gets Massport 'Swag'... which no doubt means that someone working inside of Logan is wearing an "I Love Boston" sweatshirt.

More seriously: this is a lesson in crafting compelling offers... which in turn drive activity, engagement, sharing, etc. Discounts (see Gap, McDonalds) and giveaways are more attractive, appeal to larger audiences, and likely drive new users / fans / check-ins.

Facebook Places vs. Foursquare at YCombinator Demo Day

I had the pleasure of spending yesterday at YCombinator's Demo Day. 36 companies presented and launched - three of which were Dogpatch Labs residents: Fanvibe, Rapportive, and an off-the-record company. While there was plenty of news around the companies, spaces, etc - I found it interesting to see how the crowd of YCombinator entrepreneurs, investors and friends / family checked into the event.

The result? Totally even: while the numbers fluctuated a little bit, there were roughly 15 check-ins on Facebook Places and 15 on Foursquare.

Foursquare Teams Up with NBA for Lakers / Celtics Finals

It's part Foursquare, part Fanpulse and part ESPN / vintage InGameNow: Foursquare has teamed up with the NBA to award Celtics and Lakers badges to fans who 'check in' tonight and shout either "Go Lakers" or "Go Celtics". It is different than your typical Foursquare 'check in' in that it is determined by content rather than location... but it will clearly be a big driver of traffic and usage. And clearly the NBA is getting behind the relationship: in 53 seconds, 186 Facebook users commented on the badges and 163 others liked it.