Branded games, challenges and locations

Seth Priebatsch from SCVNGR at TEDxBoston

I’ve written a few articles about location+brands in regards to Foursquare and there are more and more examples all the time, such as with Bravo, Zagat, MTV, NY Magazine, and the History Channel.

Seth Priebatsch from gave a great TED presentation recently where he said the last decade was about creating the foundation for social media and this decade where gaming will take off. Watch the presentation to understand it – he makes a very compelling case to turn many everyday activities into games, even if you don’t realize it’s a game.

This could be a great idea for advertisers to latch onto; both in partnerships with location-based services like Foursquare and SCVNGR but also for their own mobile applications and services, such as rewards programs.


Silverlight and Deep Zoom example

Regarding my recent articles about technology for marketers, I just ran across some great examples of Silverlight and Deep Zoom from ShootHill

Check out the Kylie Minogue solution they did for MSN that integrates a variety of photos but overlays news bits per photo as well. You have to zoom in to get the headlines though, which encourages some interactivity.

Twitter tools to manage my personal brand

My day job has me focused on Microsoft technologies that advertisers and marketers can leverage in unique and interesting ways, which also means I need to be up on the latest social media services since it’s a hot topic for advertisers. However, I don’t personally manage a product brand, just my own personal brand (aka, my network). I thought you might find it useful to know what tools I use to manage Twitter as a regular person growing my network (my personal brand).

Purpose Service Twitter Account
Reciprocate (follow my followers) after seeing if they’re a real person @tweepi
Schedule future tweets I switch between the Tweetdeck client and @twaitter
URL shortner that gives me click stats @bitly
Share photos, with click stats (pageviews) @twitpic
Auto-reply when someone follows me (aka, my "welcome DM") @socialoomph
Find old tweets (not just recent ones via and their partners using the firehose API) @topsy
Analysis of my archive of tweets  
Get e-mail listing people who have stopped following me. Seeing this helps me know if I’ve lost a friend or a bot/spammer. If a friend, I can ask them why. @useqwitter
Get e-mail listing people who have started following me. It shows who has stopped following me too, but is nice in that it only shows me my quitters. @nutshellmail
See who I communicate with most often, which is good for finding people to call out for #FriendFriday  
Follow my co-workers at Microsoft @comtweets
Measure how influential I am on Twitter (is curiosity or ego?)  and for a bit of a complex, but interesting analysis especially now that that they also use Microsoft Pivot at and  @twitalyzer and @klout
Quick statistics of my Twitter usage @TheCounter
Capture all my activities from various social networking services that I participate in. I don’t refer to it much, but a few people subscribe to it. @friendfeed
Automatic tweeting of my blog entries and shared items from Google Reader. (Note: Google throttles the amount of updates Twitterfeed can grab, so not all shared items get tweeted immediately. From my testing of, they probably throttle that service too). @twfeed

Updated on August 26, 2010 with and a note about

Demystifying Technology (aka, you’re in marketing and not a geek)

Demystifying Technology (aka, you’re in marketing and not a geek)

My day job at Microsoft is to roughly solve business and marketing needs with technology. Since I often add advertising, branding, and social media blog entries, I wanted to highlight the following articles that are a bit closer to my day job:

  1. Cloud computing and smartphones
  2. SharePoint for marketers
  3. DeepZoom and Photosynth for marketers
  4. Windows Azure for marketers

Good discussions/Q&A on Twitter’s #Tech

Good discussions/Q&A on Twitter’s #TechChat tonight!

Finding people on Twitter talking about your brand

BrianGroth Tweetcloud on Aug 23 2010

If you’re managing a brand and just starting out on Twitter, these are a couple of tools that I’d suggest you start with.

I’m not going to cover the various Twitter clients that you can use to manage your daily tweets, but you can search for them on Bing.

To start out on Twitter, you’ll want to find people discussing your brand or topics related to your brand. I suggest you get going with these two resources (I have no affiliation to them):

Step 1: Find words associated to your brand with The image I show here is my personal TweetCloud as right now – it shows all the things I tweet about. Let’s say I manage the Windows Live brand, I could search for Windows Live and see all of the top words associated in tweets next to the words “Windows Live”. Pull out the largest words for step 2.

Step 2: Search for people talking about your brand and the words related to your brand with Enter a word you found in step1 into BlastFollow and instantly add everyone talking about that word to the list of people you follow on Twitter. For example, a top word for Windows Live on TweetCloud is Messenger, so if I enter Messenger into BlastFollow, I see that 144 people have been using the word Messenger in their tweets and that I can quickly add them to the people I follow on Twitter.

Those are two simple steps to follow people on Twitter talking about your brand or about topics related to your brand.

I’m @BrianGroth on Twitter if you’d like to follow me. Smile

Cloud Computing and Smartphones

I’ve previously posted about Silverlight technologies (DeepZoom & Photosynth) and Windows Azure, part of Microsoft’s cloud computing efforts. David Rousset has just written a great article that showcases how a Windows Phone 7 application, using Silverlight and XNA, can read and write to Windows Azure.  

Why should you care about this if you’re in marketing?

  1. User Experience: Mobile applications are taking off and there are mobile experiences that can be co-branded or completely owned by your brand. As long as the app provides value to the user, it will be used. XNA (XNA for WP7) and Silverlight offer a platform on the phone (and PC) to create great user experiences. Read here to learn which one is right for your application.  
  2. Reduce Costs: Creating an application that uses cloud computing means you don’t have to deal with hosting or maintaining your own servers, and with Azure, you can quickly deploy updates and it can automatically scale. This all means less down time and reduced costs.
  3. Windows Phone 7 will certainly get quite a bit of hype when it releases, and I predict that it will sell very well around the world (or in whatever markets it ships in) <disclaimer>I work at Microsoft and can’t wait to get my WP7 phone</disclaimer>

If you are developing for Windows Phone 7, then check out all of the great resources to help you get started in addition to David Rousset’s blog, which I can’t recommend enough. 

SharePoint for Marketers (a high-level overview)


Microsoft SharePoint 2010 makes it easier to work together and has a great summary of SharePoint 2010, which is an important product for marketers for the following high-level reasons:

  1. Make Better Decisions: Connect it to your line-of-business applications to pull out just the information that your marketers need, such as your available budget.
  2. Share: Securely share and collaborate on documents with co-workers so you don’t have multiple versions going through e-mail.
  3. Social Computing: For the large companies, you can network and discover projects and co-workers you didn’t know about just like you can on the Internet via social networking services. You can even have your own blogs wikis hosted on SharePoint.
  4. Business intelligence (BI) dashboards to allow you to see your key performance indicators (KPIs) and drill into them to understand what’s driving the trends in your KPIs.

The e-week article highlights some great developer tips, but if you want to dig into what SharePoint can offer your business, I suggest starting with SharePoint’s list of capabilities.

Foursquare for brands without a physical store

SwarmAwarenessNetworks has a good document about how enterprise marketers can leverage Foursquare. They have 10 good tips, but most of those are focused on businesses that own physical stores. These are:

  1. Own your venue on Foursquare
  2. Utilize the tips feature
  3. Follow your visitors
  4. Market your participation so people know you’re active on Foursquare
  5. Promote check-ins
  6. Offer specials for being a mayor, earning a badge, etc.
  7. Manage your Foursquare page as you do your Facebook and other pages (it is another Owned Media)
  8. Reward your customer’s loyalty
  9. Identify and engage with your most frequent customers
  10. Offer specials for someone’s first checkin

To further this thinking, I suggest that brands that don’t own a location can sponsor locations. For example, Coca-Cola could sponsor a public park and anyone who checks in could get a special Coca-Cola badge (you have to work with Foursquare to build these) or work out a deal with vendors in the park to offer a discount on a Coke if someone has checked in. A cheaper option would be to spread the word in the community that you’re throwing a swarm badge (pictured above) party, which means that if more than 50 people attend and check in, they get the swarm badge in Foursquare.

Deep Zoom and Photosynth for Marketers

There are a variety of technologies that Microsoft has that marketers and advertisers are often not aware of that can be used to create great online consumer experiences. Two of these are Deep Zoom and Photo Synth.

Deep Zoom allows the user to drill into close-up details within a very large photo. The entire photo doesn’t need to download for the user to explore it so the experience is quick and fun. See examples from Nike and Hard Rock. Build your own with the Deep Zoom Composer. Wikipedia has a variety of other Deep Zoom examples too. Developers can get more info on Deep Zoom via MSDN.

Photosynth stitches a variety location-related of photos together so the user can explore the area, but while the photos are “related” they don’t merge to create a single panoramic photo like you can make in Windows Live Photo Gallery (I use it all the time to create my own panoramic photos). Check out Obama’s inauguration for a good example.  Wikipedia has a variety of other Photosynth info too.