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Foursquare and Geotagging for Political Campaigns as part of New Media Strategy

This is a quick run down of how we used Foursquare during a political campaign.

One effort to create a Where in the World (ward in our case) is the
Candidate effect. Using the app, we “checked in” to various locations
among the campaign trail. This was most effective after having built up a
substantial following via Facebook and Twitter (the platforms that
received our updates). Thus, our fans were notified of where we were
having coffee, taping a debate, riding a bus, eating lunch etc. We
encouraged people to join us, stop by, say hi.

A by product of the effort was promotion of locally owned small
businesses. Where possible and appropriate, it made sense to frequent a
“mom and pop” shop instead of Starbucks. This promotion built goodwill
and served as free advertising for the business.

Additionally, we wanted to illustrate our commitment to visit all
constituents. The residents know the layout of the city and we
demonstrated attention paid to many demographics.

Lastly, we used Foursquare to “map the city.” I think this may be of use
in your area. Being that not all locations were in the Foursquare
database, I emphasized the need to add locations to the system as a
service to the community. Why? When people check in via Foursquare, they
are often told who and what is nearby. It serves the city’s interest to
have locations like art galleries, coffee shops, retail stores, and
parks, added to the system where they can benefit from residual
promotion activities.

Comments made on Foursquare, Facebook, and Twitter, proved people were
following our activity and they often commented “I ride the same bus” or
“I was just there last week.” All of this raised the level of
engagement and perceived transparency which is so desired in this new
age of campaigning.

Stephanie Noble

Paden Noble

[email protected]


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Stephen Peteritas

This is a really interesting concept and with the points you brought up I’m kinda of starting to lean towards foursquare actually being the most useful social media tool during a campaign over the “traditional” facebook and twitter.

Stephanie Noble

Exactly. It’s a powerful tool. Facebook and Twitter are needed because they provide the network to which the geotagging information is syndicated. One con of Foursquare is its sketchy up time. Every so often it fails and you’ll notice it as a trending topic on Twitter (I believe their servers have difficulty with the traffic). Thus making it even more important that campaign managers understand that these are tactics part of an overall strategy.

T. Carter Ross

Fantastic idea. And a very important point about the community value of fleshing out, adding and correcting information about venues in a community.

Stephanie Noble

Great point. I agree that we shouldn’t reinvent the wheel when an adequate system exists. That’s what I tell clients who want to build their own network. Best thing is to make it easy and go to where the audience is. My issue with Places is just that there are now so many disparate systems. I think Facebook and Twitter are mainstays and finding tools that syndicate into both is smart. Have to syndicate with caution though as some apps will create an endless loop of repetitive posts.

T. Carter Ross

I think for a candidate using location-based social media, the actual platform isn’t as important as what that platform interacts with … As Stephanie notes, Foursquare will push updates to Facebook and Twitter, reaching people in both networks, as well as in Foursqure. Places would keep that conversation only within Facebook.

As an ease of use thing, something like Check.in might be even more powerful, allowing the user to check in to multiple location-based services and then broadcast that checkin further to other networks.

For a local parks and rec department, or a municipal official charged with handling social media, making sure local information is present (and correct) across multiple platforms will be more of a pain, but until a winner in the space is clear, it’s probably a good idea to try to build out appropriate local venues as much as possible on multiple platforms.