Armadillo Studios Inc.

Calgary Social Media: Foursquare Starts To Make Waves In Calgary & Edmonton

Much has been made of the Geo-locational social application “Foursquare”:http://foursquare.com/ since it’s launch into the “Calgary and Edmonton markets in November of last year”:http://foursquare.tumblr.com/post/249951087/yet-another-round-of-new-cities-sprinkled-all-over. The application has been garnishing a bit of buzz in the local tech communities and it is now poised for it’s big breakout role within our cities. Because of which local businesses should really start taking note.

The application, which allows users to notify friends about their whereabouts through instant notifications and an addictive reward system, has been heralded as the next big thing by the Tech community since the 2009 SXSW interactive conference. But now Foursquare is making great inroads to become more than just a nifty competitive game.

News from “Techvibes has revealed a groundbreaking partnership between Metro Newspapers and Foursquare to deliver local content to nearby users”:http://www.techvibes.com/blog/metro-newspapers-foursquares-join-forces.

As part of the partnership, Metro will add their location-specific editorial content to the Foursquare service. People who choose to follow Metro on Foursquare will then receive alerts when they’re close to one of those locations. For example, someone close to a restaurant that Metro has reviewed would receive a “tip” about that restaurant and the have ability to link through to the full Metro review on metronews.ca. – “Courtesy of Techvibes”:http://www.techvibes.com/blog/metro-newspapers-foursquares-join-forces

This partnership with one of Canada’s largest media outlets will connect Foursquare with a daily audience and will inject it’s brand into the mainstream consciousness. In the short-term, this will add more users to the growing audience in Calgary and Edmonton

Now on the flip side of this, Foursquare is also allowing 3rd party developers to create apps to make the service that much better. One of the first Third party Applications for Foursquare is called “PlaceWidget.com”:http://www.placewidget.com. Placewidget allows businesses (or organizations) with an already established Foursquare presence to promote user activity on their own web sites with a simple HTML widget … So for example if a _small_ business like Calgary’s own little Apple Store wanted to promote their Foursquare activity it would look like this:

Or maybe a more local competitor like Westworld Computers wanted to get in on the action, it would look like this:

While PlaceWidget might seem like a simple and remedial integration of Foursquare’s information, it really is the tip of the iceberg. As the service grows the need for businesses to leverage this information will evolve with it. Similar to how Twitter and Facebook streams now appear on the web sites of many organizations and businesses, Foursquare will be next in line.

These are just two small examples of how Foursquare is slowly fulfilling it’s _tech prophesy_ as the next major social network. The next question is when will local Calgary and Edmonton businesses start to incorporate this extremely business friendly social network into their own marketing practices?

The clientèle is growing, so who is going to be first?

The GetDown.ca Campaign

In early July, Armadillo Studios was approached by the Calgary Downtown Association, in conjunction with Tag Advertising, to help jump-start the online campaign for the new “Getdown.ca web site”:http://www.getdown.ca.

The goal of the Getdown.ca project is to help create a new web site that would inform Calgarians of the great events going on Downtown. Our roll in the project was to help develop and guide a social media strategy for the newly launched site. Through a combination of on-site training and hands on work, Armadillo Studios worked tirelessly to help kick start Getdown.ca into a viable element of the Calgary online community.

We enlisted the help of some of Calgary’s up and coming writers as well as active and influential members of the “yycTwitter Community”:http://twitter.com/#search?q=yyc to populate the new site with great content. We also provided customized social media training sessions for the Downtown Calgary team and applied an organic growth strategy for the Twitter campaign. In addition, we tailored Downtown Calgary’s “Twitter”:http://twitter.com/downtowncalgary and “Facebook Fan”:http://www.facebook.com/downtowncalgary pages based on Xpan’s & Tag’s elegant web site design.

During our tenure, the Getdown.ca project has grown by leaps and bounds. Since handing the project to Downtown Calgary earlier this month, GetDown.ca continues to grow. We’re pretty proud of the work we did with Downtown Calgary and here are some of the simple stats for the project.

* The Downtown Calgary Facebook Fan page has broken the ever-so popular 100 fan check point. The page continues to evolve as Downtown Calgary begins to utilize different elements of Facebook’s Fan pages to improve communication with the Calgary community.
* The Getdown.ca blog has published over 60+ posts about the Downtown area. Covering everything from Downtown’s own “Stylocity week”:http://getdown.ca/2009/09/11/stylocity-hit-the-streets-guerrilla-style/ to the flagship “*atomic Bubble Tea shop”:http://getdown.ca/2009/09/03/atomic-tea-feels-like-home/ to the “latest plays from Calgary’s Theatre scene”:http://getdown.ca/category/stage-and-screen/.
* “The Downtown Calgary Twitter”:http://twitter.com/downtowncalgary account grows at a positive and organic pace, with new users joining regularly.

Not bad for a 4 month period.

Anyways, we’d like to thank Downtown Calgary & Tag Advertising for the opportunity to work with them on the GetDown.ca project. We know Downtown Calgary’s Social media influence will continue to grow as it is in great hands. And last but not least, a big thank you goes out to all the local writers who helped launch the GetDown.ca project. Without their content none of this would have been possible.

Shel Israel’s Twitterville

A month ago Shel Israel swung through Calgary on a “promotional stop”:http://www.meetup.com/third-tuesday-calgary/calendar/11278682/ for his latest book, “Twitterville”:http://redcouch.typepad.com/weblog/twitterville.html. Intrigued by his previous work, “Naked Conversations with Robert Scroble”:http://books.google.ca/books?id=8tD1OOLUbJgC&dq=naked+conversations&printsec=frontcover&source=bn&hl=en&ei=dj3qSr7pBI30sQOR3fHWCA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=4&ved=0CBcQ6AEwAw, Half of the Armadillo team attended his talk to see what Shel had to say about on twitter. Shel spent the evening doing what he does best; regaling the audience with anecdote after anecdote about the growing importance of Twitter for business (and to a lesser extent society). Needless to say, very few attendees of that event left without a copy of twitterville under their arm.

Shel is a gifted story teller and _Twitterville_ is nothing short of enthralling and inspiring. From a business perspective if you are looking to properly explore the world of Social Marketing, in particular Twitter, consider picking up a copy.

See Twitterville easily overshadows the “plethora of other Twitter books”:http://www.google.ca/url?sa=t&source=web&ct=res&cd=1&ved=0CA4QFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.dummies.com%2Fstore%2Fproduct%2FTwitter-For-Dummies.productCd-0470479914.html&rct=j&q=twitter+for+dummies+book&ei=30zwSpzYCJLWtgPO7LiABg&usg=AFQjCNFPwJyyZ2O85EOsh5qHKEYzgsPJ0g, because it is *an honest look at the evolving community, from the viewpoint of someone who truly cares*. Shel enthusiasm clearly demonstrates his appreciation for the subject material. His business anecdotes have an intimate feel to them, due to the relationships he has built with the major protagonists in each story. Within each chapter he is promoting and championing businesses that understand Twitterville and are pushing it in a positive direction. More importantly, he showcases the people behind these successful accounts, who are leverage their own generosity and compassion to further the community and their own bottom-line.

In a sense, the basic take-away from Twitterville, revolves around the divide between the personal and impersonal. As Shel notes throughout the book, the downfall of many business strategies on Twitter are routed in the impersonal and archaic _broadcast_ tactics many companies are familiar with. Where businesses are seeing favourable results on Twitter, is when they shift their focus towards a more involved and open two-way communication strategy. Shel’s philosophy is that *Businesses will succeed on Twitter only when they are personable*. And he leverages many examples throughout Twitterville; from the success story of “comcastcares”:http://twitter.com/comcastcares to “scottymonty”:http://twitter.com/scottymonty and his ability to suppress Ford Ranger Fan-club backlash to the small business success of Houston’s “coffegroundz”:http://twitter.com/coffeegroundz.

That is not to say that Twitterville is only for the novice twitter user. Rather Twitterville is an important read even for the most seasoned of power users. From his own personal ideal _That Twitter is the Place where People Act The Most Honest_ to the concept of _Lethal Generosity_, Shel is able to show Twitter’s evolving ability in a different light. In addition, Shel’s business cases and anecdotes are well researched and provide even experienced marketers with ideas and concepts to work with or bring to their clients. That is not to say that there aren’t any remedial chapters intended for the novice users (the Last Chapter is dedicated to the basics of Twitter and there is a detailed chapter geared towards the darker side of twitter).

It’s easy to be sceptical of the magnitude of literature popping up regarding the business opportunities within the Twitter community; the technology is far too young for anyone to truly comprehend the future ramifications of the tool. But Twitterville is a fantastic first step in that direction. It is a book which is chalkful of insightful ideas and positive concepts, that showcase ideas that promote the community rather than exploit it.

If you are small business looking to engage with your clients on Twitter, take the time to seek out _Twitterville_.

Google Street View: What Does it Mean For Your Business?

Google Street View “rolled out in Canada yesterday morning”:http://www.techvibes.com/blog/google-street-view-now-available-in-canada. While many people are finding it to be one of the Internet’s greatest time occupiers, it does have important ramifications for your business.

*Google Street View* is essentially a street level enhancement to Google’s powerful online mapping system – Google Maps. Users can now zoom in on any address in a major metropolitan Canadian city to see a panoramic view of the area. Below are some examples of Google Street View in action at some of Calgary’s most famous intersections.


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But as a small business how is this new feature important to you? Right now it seems like a nice novelty, but what will it mean for potential customers?

First and foremost, if you happen to run a storefront business; a repair shop, a flower shop or a clothing store, when potential customers use Google Maps to find your location they will now see a street level view of your storefront. Unfortunately, for a business standpoint there is no control over the view that is available for customers to look at. Any business with information updated on Google will be tied to this viewpoint, whether it’s a flattering photo or not.

Second, if you are a Realtor or a business tied directly to the Housing Market, Google street view will be an important tool for your business. Not only will users be able to see an honest street level view of your property, but they will be able to explore the surrounding neighbourhood and the local amenities. Again, depending on the state of the property and the time the Google Car visited your neighbourhood, this might not be the most flattering photo.

So What Should You Do?

It would be almost impossible to fight the impact Google Street View will have on your business. Google’s current stanglehold on user search and business information is impossible to ignore. So our advice would be to *embrace the service*.

Google allows you to embed the streetview application directly into any web page, so leverage this feature. For Realtors this means embedding street views of you properties directly in to your showcase page. For businesses with store fronts, this means embdedding the application on your contact us page and replacing that outdated Google map.

Google Street View might seem gimiky at first, but like all of Google’s previous technological breakthroughs the business ramifications will become apparently very shortly. So rather than fight it, embrace it.

Did You Know 4.0?

It’s a pretty tired cliché, but sometimes pictures (and beautiful fonts with great statistics) speak louder than words.

If you haven’t seen it yet, this is the fourth in a series of viral videos detailing the new Media Climate. The latest rendition promotes the “Economist’s Media Convergence forum”:http://mediaconvergence.economist.com/ in New York and without question it is a pretty important view for any sized business. (A special thanks goes to “Andrew McIntyre”:http://twitter.com/andrewmcintyre/statuses/4172911339 and “Roger Kondrat”:http://twitter.com/Roger/status/4153967351 for the link)