Dance Dance Chair-volution

Lots of us are stuck behind a desk all day, sitting in a chair. It’s repetitive. We get bored. We get tired of the same ol’ routine.

To save ourselves from insanity, we sometimes get creative, silly or just plain weird.

Thanks to a great idea from Kevin Spidel, today’s saving grace is the chair dance.

My chair dance

The Kevin Spidel chair dance that started it all

Zaneology chair dance

Jeremy Vaught’s chair dance

These were all recorded using the service 12seconds.tv, which allows 12 seconds maximum per video clip, so you gotta make it quick!

Your turn! Join our Dance Dance Chair-volution

So now that we I have embarrassed myself, it’s your turn! I invite you to join our chair dancing party. Give us your worst best!

Tag your video clip/tweet/whatever with #chairdance #chairdancing and post a link here in the comments so that we’re sure to check yours out too!

Redeeming Foursquare special offers: my experience

Did you know that Foursquare collaborates with businesses to list official special offers on its venue pages? Yah, they do, and best of all, it’s free for businesses to participate.

The concept of real world businesses providing a tangible incentive to Foursquare users (who normally receive just a virtual reward) intrigued me, so I set out on a mission to redeem a few Foursquare special offers on my own.

Foursquare special offer redemption at Carrabba’s

My first experience occurred at Carrabba’s in Glendale, where I am, indeed, the not-so-mighty Mayor on Foursquare.

Upon checking in on the Foursquare Android app, I was greeted with a special offer screen that looked like the following image (taken from the Foursquare website).

Carrabbas-Foursquare-Special-Offer

Free dessert for the mayor? Yessir, I’ll take it, thankaverymuch.

I kept the foursquare special offer screen in focus on my Motorola Droid and set the phone aside for later.

After finishing our meal, I asked our waitress if she had heard of the Foursquare Mayor free dessert promotion. I then showed her the special offer info on my phone, but she had never heard of it. She said that she would have to get a manager, so we waited while she called a manager over to our table.

Getting shot down… sort of

When the manager arrived, she said something like “these kind of things always go up online and then Carrabba’s takes them down quickly and it’s probably a scam.”

Wow… really? I was shocked, but the experience didn’t end badly. Even though she didn’t believe the promotion was legitimate, the manager said she would honor it anyway, so we wound up with a free dessert.

I reported the incident to @Carrabbas and they later followed up with me on Twitter and email, exhibiting excellent customer service.

When I returned to Carrabba’s a second & third time, I had no problems whatsoever redeeming the Foursquare special offer. I suspect someone at corporate called the Glendale location and asked them to educate all employees on the Foursquare promotion. Well done, Carrabba’s.

Foursquare special offer redemption at Monti’s La Casa Vieja

The second location where I redeemed a Foursquare special offer was at Monti’s La Casa Vieja in Tempe.

Tera and I were enjoying the beautiful Arizona weather, hanging with our friends Jake and Mandy at the Tempe Festival of the Arts. When I mentioned the Monti’s 5 cent drink Foursquare special offer, our friends could hardly believe it.

We huffed it down to the end of Mill Ave, where Tera and I checked in on Foursquare before entering Monti’s. As we checked in, the Foursquare special offer splashed to life on our screens, which looked like the image below (again, taken from the Foursquare website).

Montis-La-Casa-Vieja-Foursquare-Special-Offer

We scuttled on over to the bar area, where Jake and Mandy tried to check-in on Foursquare to join in on the special offer fun. Oops, no service inside the building (thanks AT&T).

When our waitress arrived, I asked her if she was aware of the Foursquare promotion. Nope! She had no idea what I was talking about. She took our orders, presumably spoke with management and then came back to ask me how many of us had checked in on Foursquare. Tera got a glass of wine for 5 cents, I got a tasty Four Peaks draft beer for 5 cents.

Five cent drinks FTW!

Foursquare special offers final thoughts

Providing tangible rewards for Foursquare users is a very smart business move and a compelling incentive to get more people using Foursquare. A win-win for the business and Foursquare.

Like anything new, the Foursquare special offer redemption process will be bumpy at first. The best thing that a business can do to ensure a smooth process is to make sure that all of their staff is aware of the Foursquare special offer, once they start running one.

Foursquare might not be mainstream quite yet, but the folks who are using it are tech-savvy, vocal, ahead-of-the-pack power users. Adding a free Foursquare special offer for your business will attract these people as well as increase awareness and conversations about your business. Don’t miss out on this awesome opportunity.

Tips on redeeming a Foursquare special offer

Check-in before entering a business, to avoid wireless service issues indoors.
Don’t expect the staff to be aware of the Foursquare special offer, or even know what Foursquare is.
Keep the special offer image & text available on your phone to show the staff, if needed.
Be polite and ask the staff to check with management if they need further direction.
If you run into a problem, follow-up with a higher up (manager, owner, corporate office) to get things ironed out.

More resources on Foursquare

Learn more about Foursquare for businesses (official site).
10 Ways a Small Business can Leverage Foursquare by Joe Manna
Local Search Marketing using Foursquare by Chuck Reynolds

10 reasons you should attend Twestival Phoenix

Tweet, Meet, Give. Sounds simple enough right?

Twestival Phoenix is occurring at 7pm on Thursday, March 25th at Martini Ranch in Scottsdale.

This is a 100% volunteer run event. All money raised will benefit Concern Worldwide, a non-profit, non-government organization that provides aid to areas in extreme poverty around the world, with a focus on building schools, training teachers, providing clean drinking water, health education, disaster relief, etc.

Social media is fun. It’s educational, it helps us communicate, but it can also be used for a good cause, such as this.

10 reasons you should attend Twestival Phoenix

  • It’s for a great cause.
  • It’s fun! We had a great time at Twestival Phoenix last year.
  • The drinks! Each attendee receives 2 drink tickets and Twestival Phoenix will have beverages on hand from Cruz tequila, Karlsson’s Gold vodka and Full Sail Brewing.
  • Food! Twestival Phoenix will have complimentary bites on hand from Kabuki, Petit Fromage, Fairytale Brownies, SuperFarm, Udder Delights, Wildflower Bread Company and more!
  • Network. Twestival Phoenix attempts to draw together everyone in the Phoenix social media community. There will be many a networking opportunity available at the event.
  • Win prizes! Twestival Phoenix will be running a raffle and giving away a slew of prizes to attendees. Tons of gift certificates, gift baskets and prizes from local area businesses will be handed out.
  • Rock out! The Surfside IV will be jamming the house at Twestival Phoenix. The best surf-rock band in the valley.
  • Silent auction. Twestival Phoenix will feature many high value items & services in the silent auction. This is your chance to pick up some very cool stuff at a discount, all the while supporting a great cause.
  • Get a cool t-shirt. You have the option of purchasing a slick Twestival Phoenix t-shirt, which you will receive at the event.
  • Did I mention music? Green Ears (hip-hop & reggae cover band) and Radio Maker are also scheduled to play Martini Ranch the night of Twestival Phoenix.

Please attend Twestival Phoenix!

We need as many attendees as possible to make this a successful event. Please come! Please bring some friends! Purchase tickets here.

We also need help spreading the word. Please tweet, blog, Facebook status update or whatever else you can think of to help make people aware of the event.

I hope to see you on March 25th!

Official website: http://phoenix.twestival.com

Foursquare launches categories

Upon logging into Foursquare and checking my history page this morning, I was initially perplexed to see a bunch of question-mark icons next to my venues.

So what gives?

Foursquare has launched categories (and sub-categories) this morning. Here are a few screenshots.

Foursquare Categories – history page

Foursquare-history-categories

Foursquare Categories – history page – sub categories

Foursquare-history-categories-sub

Once you’ve added a category for a particular venue, a shiny new icon shows up where the question-mark used to be. Foursquare has created an entirely new icon set for the categories launch. You can see the movie theater icon above next to the Harkins Tempe Marketplace venue. When I added the “Slices” venue to the category; Food, sub-category Pizza, a pizza slice icon appeared.

You can only add a venue to one category at this time.

Foursquare Categories – venue page

Categories will show up on the venue pages as well, just above the tags area on the lower right of the page (screenshot below). You can also add a venue to a category from the venue page.

foursquare-venue-categories

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a method for suggesting a new category or sub-category. I couldn’t find “community center” in any of the lists, so I had to go with “Building – Other”. All in all though, it appears that Foursquare has covered the majority of venue types in their category lists.

I’d still like to see a method for users easily suggesting a new category or sub-category though.

Update: According to an official Foursquare tweet, you can report missing categories here.

Foursquare Categories – what will they bring to the table?

So how will categories improve the Foursquare experience? I think categories are a good compliment to the current tag system. Tags can now be used for more descriptive purposes now, while the category will define the type of venue. Expect to see new badges created that are linked to certain categories.

I’m looking forward to the new enhancements and anything that will improve the Foursquare experience. How do you think Categories will improve Foursquare?

Twitter: public chat room of the world

I was recently asked why I’m not on IM (instant messaging) much anymore.

There are many reasons for that…

instant-messaging-im-clients

One of the primary reasons, is that I often forget to launch Pidgin (best multi-protocol IM client EVR). But why do I forget? Because it’s not that important anymore. Now there’s Twitter.

Twitter: public chat room of the world

Twitter has become the real-time conversation of the world. Why chat with just one person when you can chat with EVERYONE?

Many people still don’t get Twitter. In fact, it appears that signups & other key stats are declining for the service.

People who do get it, already use the service and find immense value in it. We don’t loose sleep at night over Twitter’s popularity (although the stats are interesting). It’s there, it’s an amazing tool, it’s revolutionized real-time communication. We take advantage. We join the world-wide conversation.

Instant, private, messaging will always have its place, but it’s usefulness has definitely taken a back seat to Twitter.

But how about you? Do you find yourself using instant messaging less nowadays due to Twitter?

Gowalla for Android

I enjoy testing out and learning to use new software, new apps and new tools. Because of this, I often find myself getting in on beta tests.

What is a beta test? A beta is typically a private or semi-private testing phase of a software product, before it is officially released or widely announced to the public.

Gowalla beta for Android now available

Today, I learned that the Gowalla GPS/location-based game/app has released a beta version for Android, which I have been anxiously awaiting for months.

Gowalla-Android-app

To get access to the beta version, visit the following address directly your Android phone: http://static.gowalla.com/gowalla-android-20100212.apk

Or you can scan the bar-code:
gowalla-android-20100212.apk

Note 1) In order to install this app, you may have to turn on the option “Allow install of non-Market applications”. To do this, go to your home screen Menu -> Settings -> Applications, then check the “Unknown sources” checkbox (Android 2.0 instructions). I recommend turning this option off once you are done.

Note 2) If you have trouble downloading the APK file, you may need to install a file manager, such as Astro or Linda, which can both be found on the Market.

Foursquare vs Gowalla

Until now, Foursquare has been my primary GPS app of choice, mainly because they’ve had a native Android app available for quite some time. I’ve also tinkered around with Google Buzz and the Gowalla mobile website.

I’m looking forward to testing out Gowalla and comparing it to Foursquare.

To learn more about the beta or read about the latest update, visit this Gowalla Android support thread on GetSatisfaction.

If you’ve used both apps, which one do you like best and why? If you use an alternative, what do you use and why?

Mining blog ideas from your Twitpics

As I discussed in my post, What to blog about, I’ve always got a list of topics queued up that I would like to write about.

But not everyone does…

Stir up blogging ideas from your own photos

If you’re one of those people that is looking for inspiration or searching for a topic to blog about, why not take a look at your own Twitpics? If the image was interesting enough to share on Twitter, it might be interesting enough to warrant it’s own blog post.

I do this all the time.

drink-coffee-poster-US-Egg-p

The photo above is a poster on the wall at a US Egg restaurant, which I shared via Twitpic. This poster pic could’ve inspired a blog post on why coffee is good or bad, a post asking whether or not coffee makes you do stupid things, a post about coffee alternatives or whatever else you can come up with.

Twitter is a constant stream of updates and only a small percentage of your followers will actually see your Twitpics or photos. Blogging about those images will get them out to a larger audience.

Don’t stop there

Take a look at all of your online activity. Anything you do can turn into food for your next blog post. A great photo on Flickr, a great conversation on Twitter, a comment you made on another site, just about anything…

Use your own momentum, use your own activity and the posts will keep on flowing.

Social Media Club Phoenix

Are you a social media professional, amateur, junkie? Perhaps you just want to learn more about social media in general. If you have any interest in the subject and want to learn more (in the Phoenix area), I highly recommend attending Social Media Club Phoenix.

social-media-club-phoenix

What, where, when?

Social Media Club Phoenix meets on the second Thursday of each month, at the Jobing.com offices on 22ND St, just south of Camelback Rd.

This month’s (Thursday, February 11th) Social Media Club topic is Government Uses of Social Media. Last month’s topic was Facebook and the previous month focused on Blogging. Each session is normally comprised of a round-table of “experts” along with a moderator.

Learn, have fun and connect

I’ve had a great time at Social Media Club every time I’ve attended. The audience seems to keep growing every time. You’re sure to learn at least something new at each session.

Bring your smartphone, your laptop, bring a desktop setup the size of a tank. Computing is allowed and encouraged at social media club. The good folks at Jobing.com provide the office space, power and Wi-Fi.

Join the conversation

One of my favorite parts of Social Media Club is the on-going Twitter conversation that occurs during the sessions. You can tweet out interesting info, converse with others on the session topic, or try to be funny. The #smcphx tweet stream is broadcast live, in the room, on two projector screens.

As you might expect, this is a very social event that focuses on community. After the session, join the crew at Half Moon Sports Grill on Highland for the after-party, networking, some good conversation and a few brewski’s if that’s your thing (Arrogant Bastard ale here I come!).

So come on out to Social Media Club Phoenix, learn and have some fun. You can also join the Google group, suggest a session topic, become a fan on Facebook and follow on Twitter.

Hey businesses: be awesome and Yelp won’t matter

Yesterday, I talked about Why I use Yelp.

Many consumers find great value and many benefits in using the Yelp services, but some businesses just don’t get it, as this Inc.com article points out, with a couple of extreme examples.

A common mistake

Some businesses take the consumer reviews too personally, then they verbally attack customers that write negative reviews and trash-talk the Yelp service itself. This is not productive and does nothing to help their business. It does the opposite.

How to do Yelp right

Yelp is simply a public consumer communication tool. With that in mind, I highly encourage businesses to monitor their Yelp reviews and to IMPROVE their businesses based on the feedback left there. If you see a trend, or even just one review pointing out an area that your business needs to make improvement in, embrace it! Make your business better.

If your business is truly focused on providing an excellent product or service, with a STELLAR customer experience, then you don’t even need to worry about Yelp. The positive reviews will just roll in if you’re doing it right.

One such example is Chicago Gyro’s restaurant, near Union Hills and 7th Ave in North Phoenix.

Chicago-Gyros-Receipt-1

Chicago Gyro’s isn’t worried or scared of Yelp. They embrace it! They even ask their customers to Yelp them by printing it right on all of their receipts, as shown in the image above. Why do they do this? Because they know that they deliver an excellent product and stellar service.

So remember, be awesome and you won’t have to worry about Yelp or any other online review sites.