The regular reader of these chunterings will have noticed a pattern. How you decipher that pattern is up to you. Where I see the ‘dissemination of relevant content through all available channels to established audiences across the digital sphere’, you might see ‘obsessive bandwagon jumping, ticking off social media trying to look trendy’. Either way, you won’t be surprised to see the Foreign and Commonwealth Office now hopping on to Foursquare.
Foursquare isn’t that new, obviously, but their attitudes to brands are evolving, making it an increasing useful way of getting prominence for the Foreign Office’s travel advice. And distribution of information is the key for us, making sure that those who move around the world are up-to-date with the latest information that we provide. What we’re not trying to do is, as other brands do, generate visits to our buildings – embassies in our case, but burger joints and shops for the thus-far successful companies. No one in the far flung reaches of the FCO’s diplomatic network is going to thank us for driving numbers to queue up at the door to become the mayor of a consulate here or there (and besides, one might be taken). In fact, the badges and gaming element of Foursquare, while attractive to many, made us think twice about whether our presence there would be viewed as a gimmick.
So we’ll be using Foursquare to make as many as possible of the 8 million people already on there aware of where our embassies are, for when they need help, and to distribute information where we think it’s useful – at airports, major tourist venue and hotspots. And if the last 6 months have taught us anything it is that the sort of advice the Foreign Office produces can be invaluable to British nationals (and others) as they live and travel overseas.
We’re building our FourSquare presence gradually, building up the information we provide and, hopefully, building our presence, in the same way as we are building the presence for our travel advice onTwitter and Facebook. Geolocation based social media is something we need to learn to exploit, and the chances are that this little presence will be the forerunner of a far more active, but for now, becoming more involved in the weft and weave of the social web will do us fine.