Can Location-Based Social Media Be Taken Serious When It Goes "GTL"?

I know MTV's hit reality show "The Jersey Shore" is the network's highest rated show ever and has become a "guilty pleasure" of many who won't ever admit to watching it. I know the Foursquare team have become masters at TV-partnership marketing. But can the leading location-based social network be taken seriously by aligning itself with a pop-cultural phenomenon that offers little to no redeeming value for today's geo-location discourse?

Foursquare & Jersey Shore 3rd Season PromotionFoursquare & Jersey Shore 3rd Season Promotion
Foursquare's MTV promotion is coinciding the release of it's latest badge, titled "GTL" to announce the return of the "Guidos" and "Guidettes" to the show's third season premiere. The "Gym/Tan/Laundry" motto was first coined by the show's most popular character - Mike Sorrentino, aka "The Situation." The badge is designed for those who check-in to facilities offering the aforementioned services during a 7-day period.

The badge features a "fist pump" which is a signature gesture from the show. After watching one of the episodes and checking into a gym, tanning salon and laundry location during the course of the week, Foursquare users are rewarded with the badge, and all the narcissistic bragging rights that go along with it.

When the badge is unlocked, the following promotional text hypes the show with the following message:

For those that aren't in the know, "grenades" is a derogatory term used to describe ladies that are usually  picked-up at clubs and sequestered for one-night-stands. The not-so-affectionate moniker refers to their unattractive appearance, which is not often detected until "The Situation" and his posse bring them home and view them in a well-lit room.

Funny stuff, for the prurient of mind, but is it really the type of audience Foursquare wants to add it to its user base? If so, doesn't that detract from any older demographic that is turned off by the association?

Whatever one thinks about Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg was wise enough to develop his social network model to appeal to all age groups and a complete cross-section of demographics. While one can say, when one's Mom and Dad joined Facebook, it turned off the younger generation, this wasn't proved out in the numbers.  With FB scaling past 500+ million, both the young and old are still joining the all-inclusive social network at record-pace.

In the long run, perhaps the same will be said about Foursquare - attract the young, and older folks will eventually follow? However, somehow, I kind of doubt it.

When entertainment newscasters conduct on-air news stories about the Jersey Shore, it is usually done as an expose' in a not-so complimentary manner. When Barbara Walters interviewed the cast members on a show about 2010's most interesting people, she was criticized harshly for pandering and as an 81-yr old desperately trying to make herself relevant with younger viewers. And if not that, one has to wonder if the idea for the interview was hers in the first place, or the network's?

Bottom line here is perception by association. If today's standards have slipped so markedly that Foursquare and others think that these types of partnerships should be taken seriously, perhaps its time to re-evaluate other location-based social networks that are truly interested in the value of geo-location marketing and the benefits it can provide its users.

BTW, it's been announced the Jersey Shore's number one Guidette Snooki is writing a novel, after reportedly only ever reading two books in her entire life. Apparently Simon and Schuster are also feeding off the show's frenzy and hope to capitalize on its popularity. IMHO, that ghost-writer better write fast, before this group of misfits' extended-15 minutes expires.

Jan 7, 2011
by Anonymous

Foursquare #Fail

Ron, you are spot on here. I hadn't heard about the MTV promo but yes, it put's me off Foursquare. I've been using it awhile and like some features. But when it's competing with Facebook places, their strategy wants a bit more thought. I for one have never, and will never visit a tanning salon. And I think the whole thing about "grenades" taps into an unpleasantly narcissistic tendency among some social network users. Definitely a Foursquare #Fail, IMO.