While Facebook seeks to own the Web and the advertising that is attached - with the launch of its most recent Open Graph, Foursquare is pursuing partnership deals with a more traditional medium. The hottest location-based social network having only reached its one million 'user' milestone has already locked up TV ad and publicity deals with HBO, Bravo, the History Channel and VH1.
For HBO's How To Make It In America which just finished its first season, the partnership entails branded tips that users will receive on their mobile phones. Tips like the ones below range from bars with the best margaritas to fashion designer collections found in the East Village.
The idea is based on Foursquare's game-like premise of visiting venues and unlocking badges. In this instance, the four HTMIIA badges include "Culture," "Living," "Cocktails," and "Nightlife." The promo not only engages you with the lead characters Ben and Cam as they 'hustle their way into NYC" from Queens, but it is also attracting more and more users to test the Foursquare app.
The Bravo deal works similarly. In addition to Foursquare introducing a plethora of new Bravo-themed badges, the cable TV network — much like Metro News — is also turning the personalities behind its hit reality TV shows — think The Millionaire Matchmaker, Top Chef, The Real Housewives, Top Chef Masters and Shear Genius — into content creators. The reality show celebrities will share their tips and to-dos, essentially serving as curators of city-specific information that fans can follow and practice in real life.
America The Story of Us, beginning Sunday, April 25 on HISTORY, is an epic 12-hour television event that tells the extraordinary tale of how America was invented. It is an intensive look at the people, places and things that have shaped our nation, and the adventure that is America's 400-year history. And the content was a perfect fit for a location-based social network like Foursquare.
Users will be able to access Foursquare to unlock the history in their cities. It will then allow Foursquarers to discover tips about America, unlock limited edition badges and be entered into the AMERICA THE STORY OF US SWEEPSTAKES! Ten randomly selected Foursquare users will win HISTORY prizes each week from April 25-June 6!
On April 25, business development director for Foursquare, Tristan Wallker tweeted the following message:
This Twitpic shows the Pop-Ups he is referring to.
The Foursquare bubbles that pop-up on the bottom-right of the screen were first seen on VH1's What Chilli Wants. So here, not only do the celebrities provide their tips, Foursquare gets an on-screen presence during the airing of the show. And according to a TechCrunch report, these pop-us are a 'free publicity' bonus. "In fact, Foursquare undoubtedly isn’t buying this publicity, and in fact, VH1 may even be paying them for the partnership (the service won’t say which of its deals are free and which are paid)," notes MG Siegler in his recent post.
Other deals with Warner Brothers and Las Vegas hotels are still in the works, but its safe to say, the founders of Foursquare have targeted a medium they feel will provide them with the greatest exposure. While Facebook continues to mobilize its online deals utilizing social plug-ins and advertising across the Web's landscape, the little engine that could is sure making as big a splash on the small screen.
Curious to note, location-based social services is the one area that was obviously missing from Mark Zuckerberg's annual address to his developers in San Francisco this month. One would have thought with a user base of 400 million they could have easily dominated that space as well. But in not doing, they left that door wide open for a network that could rule both the Mobile and TV worlds in very short order.