Why I Use Foursquare. And Why You Should Too

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I have to disagree with Jason Edwards on FourSquare’s usefulness (or lack thereof)I’ve becomeFourSquare addict over the past couple months — I think my addiction really kicked into high gear starting with my trip to NYC for Inman Connect in January; it’s probably no coincidence that I’ve essentially been traveling non stop since then. One question I get quite often, particularly from my friends who don’t use social media, is WHY I use Foursquare. This topic came up at RE BarCamp in Austin in a session called “Stop Puking all Over the Internet” that I helped Andy Kaufman (MyEastBayAgent) with, and I thought I’d address the question here as well.

First of all, I’m not a real estate agent, but think I have very similar goals as agents do with my social media activity — relationship building. As someone who wants to succeed in the business world, my long term goal is to build a large and valuable network of relationships over time. Social media, and Foursquare, is part of that process for me just as it should be for a real estate agent trying to build their sphere.

That said, here are the 2 primary reasons I use Foursquare:

1. Long term relationship building. I think of the content created via Foursquare as nuggets of information for others to relate to. Over the past few weeks, I’ve exchanged numerous tweets and engaged in a few offline email conversations as a result of my Foursquare checkins. Surprisingly, the offline emails mostly came from contacts who saw my Twitter status updates on LinkedIn — who would have thought? They were mostly people who had been to the place I checked in at, or saw the city I was in and sent me a recommendation for something to do or eat. I used to think that integrating Twitter updates into LinkedIn was an incredibly stupid idea, but no longer. Whether it be on the phone or email, building strong relationships require offline conversations — and Foursquare helps facilitate more offline conversations with my network than if I didn’t use Foursquare.

2. Finding out where my network is (while traveling). While on the road, it’s extremely valuable to me to find out where my network is currently hanging out. At South By Southwest (which ROCKED by the way), Foursquare was a vital component for meeting up with others at the conference for drinks or food or to just talk. And again, this goes back to helping facilitate more offline conversations in an effort to build stronger relationships. But it’s also FUN to hang out with people I know, so it’s a win-win all the way around in my book.

So that’s why I use Foursquare, and why you should too. Why aren’t you onboard yet?

Blog Promotion in the Real Estate Vertical

We all know that we want as many people as possible to read our blog posts (I’m assuming everyone knows how to WRITE a blog post already). If you spend hours crafting the greatest post you’ve ever written, and no one finds and reads that content — you have a problem. If you want your blog content to be found, you need a blog promotion strategy!

There are those that say great content will market itself. I agree with Darren Rowse that there are elements of truth to that concept. But, as Darren says, the reality is that unless you have a considerable built-in audience, the chances are good that no one knows your content exists except you. Blog promotion is all about changing that and maximizing he chances it’ll get picked up by others. So, what do you do AFTER you hit the publish button to ensure your blog gets read?

First of all, you need to seed your content into the places where it’s easy for others to help you share it with others. Here are some basic things you should do to seed your content in the social web:

  • Post it on Twitter, with a custom, catchy headline. I admit I’m guilty of not customizing the title for Twitter very often (I have posts auto populate via Twitterfeed) – and David Gibbons continues to give me a hard time about it.
  • Post it as a Facebook status update. This is where your close network spends hours and hours every day; maximize the chances they’ll see your blog post in their feed by posting it as an update – ideally, in the middle of the day.
  • Submit your RSS feed to Outside.in and make sure to tag your post with the appropriate tag (only relevant if your post is locally focused). Especially in a market where Outside.in has media partners such as STLToday.com, I think you’ll find some decent traffic clicking through to your site.
  • Tag your post in Delicious. For instance, you’d tag a post mentioning the new Seattle light rail with “Seattle
  • Get one of your close friends to submit it on Digg. Digging your own articles is frowned upon, and you’ll be less likely to get votes for it if you take that approach.
  • Share your article on Stumbleupon. The traffic will be hit or miss and fairly unqualified, but it’s still worth trying.

The above steps are a good start, but I genuinely feel success with blog promotion comes down to relationships, just as success in life and business does. The more relationships you have in place and the stronger those relationships are, the more likely your blog will get read — and the more likely your network will help market your blog to their respective networks. Here’s how I recommend approaching blog promotion as it relates to networking:

  • Use good blog posts (NOT every blog post) as a reason to touch base with your network.
  • Be strategic about who you personally reach out to with each blog post. Don’t reach out to everyone with every blog post you are trying to promote. If you cover a range of different topics on your blog — for instance, real estate, tech, and global warming — you should have a list of 10 people in each of those niches that you can reach out to.
  • Email them about more than just your blog post. Take a look at their blog and mention something they wrote recently, or something they posted on their Facebook or Twitter accounts. If you are close with the person, you likely already know something recent, but that’s not always the case. And I think it goes without saying that you should be interested in what they are doing; it’s not all about YOU.
  • Include something to the tune of “any help in spreading the word or feedback you can provide would be appreciated” in your personal note.
  • If they respond to your email, write a thank you email to them whether or not they wrote about your article. This is more important than you may think.
  • If there is someone you consider influential and you know them (and they cover a topic relevant to your post), call them to catch up — and make sure you mention your recent blog post during that conversation. This both not only notifies that person of your post, but also helps you build a stronger long term relationship.

Lastly, remember that you still have to write, record, or design great content if you want others to read it; don’t expect a crappy (or even mediocre) blog post to get picked up by others.

Are there other things you do to promote your blog posts? Questions, suggestions, or observations – share them in the comments!