The Mayor of Widmeyer
It was three years ago that I asked my friend about Foursquare, the location-based social media platform, as we shared a pizza on U Street. I knew nothing about it, and I was quizzing her on how it was used, so that I could potentially show it to a client someday. She was using it socially, and was also trying to get her nonprofit to use Foursquare to reward its donors.
I decided then I’d try it out, knowing that the only way I’d learn how to implement it for a client would be to use it myself. I loaded the app on my phone and started “checking in” at locations all over DC, earning badges and getting helpful tips for locations I frequented. I even earned the high title of “mayor” of Widmeyer Communications’ DC office – a not-so-amazing feat considering I was the only person at the firm who had checked in there. My use of the service ebbed and flowed – sometimes I’d check in daily and sometimes I’d go weeks without accessing the app. But I quickly gained a clear understanding of not only the Foursquare user experience, but also how the service could be implemented for clients.
A week ago my curiosity paid off. In a meeting with a client, she asked me the same question I had asked over pizza slices four years ago. I whipped out my iPhone to show her how the service worked, what badges looked like, and provided a rough outline of how we could help develop a Foursquare badge for their campaign.
To me, understanding social media is like a never-ending apprenticeship. I always feel like I’ve just scratched the surface, and the best way to learn is through hands-on (or in this case thumbs-on) experience.
I’m not really interested in being the mayor of the hottest spots in DC, or earning all the shiny new badges Foursquare offers. But because our clients want to understand how the latest social media applications fit into their traditional media plans, I want to understand them too.
Being a social media user – although probably a not-so-typical one – gives me a good baseline of information to answer clients’ questions with thoughtful answers. Because if you ask your mayor a question and he can’t answer it, does he really deserve to be mayor?