Foursquare Connected

May 30, 2009

I spent the last week in Anaheim for Foursquare Connection 2009, the annual convention of The Foursquare Church. After working for the Foursquare Communications team for the past year and a half, it was great to finally get some context for what everyone talks about and works so hard for each and every year.

Since I did not play a role in last year’s convention in Houston, I saw the invitation to this one as an opportunity to do things a little differently than they’ve been done before—at least in the way I was asked to contribute, which is online. Plus, with this year’s theme bileld as “Wide Open,” I really saw it as a perfect excuse to push a few more limits.

There’s nothing radical about social networking in and of itself. Everyone’s doing it. Many companies have Twitter accounts, Facebook fan pages and CEO blogs. What is radical is finding a way to bring these elements together into a seamless community that functions and breathes as a single place of interaction using many parts. A consistent plan between social platforms is what seems to be lacking from most communities I see.

And Foursquare is no exception. It creates a Foursquare Connection website to promote the event every year. That’s fine, but it doesn’t really “promote” anything, except the scheduled speakers and workshops with a few links to random resources for download.

A glorified business card. Static. Educational. One-dimensional.

And there’s nothing wrong with that…unless you still want to keep the word “promote” in your objective.

We hit the usual suspects to build our social networking communty: Twitter, Flickr, Ustream and Vimeo (sorry, Facebook). The difference was how well everything played together when we asked them to.

For example, when we uploaded a video to Vimeo, it was tagged with images we posted to Flickr which all feeds into a page on our Foursquare Connection website with live streaming video from the event that lets people chat live online and populate all Twitter updates that include the #Connect09 hashtag.

How about if you’re someone at the event? No problem. We handed out handy little Flip cameras for people to upload their videos directly to our Vimeo channel and opened up a Flickr group pool for people to post their own photos from the event. We also wired our live Ustream video to feed directly into the hotel rooms of guests so they could watch anything from the comfort of their own bed in the event they absolutely had to stay in for whatever reason.

A few snippets of free code is all it takes to turn your static website into a platform that leverages your online presence, connects people together and breaks conversations and interaction wide open.

Connection? Wide open? That sounds exactly like the name and theme of the event.

What a great excuse to get to build something a little different this time around.