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Home > News > India News > Article > Shraddha Jadhav isnt the only Mayor

Shraddha Jadhav isn't the only Mayor

Updated on: 23 January,2011 10:42 AM IST  | 
Kasmin Fernandes |

That badge pinned on your shirt and the coffee cup that sports portraits of your pals, have moved online. Welcome to the world of online status symbols -- easier to win and the easiest to display

Shraddha Jadhav isn't the only Mayor

That badge pinned on your shirt and the coffee cup that sports portraits of your pals, have moved online. Welcome to the world of online status symbols -- easier to win and the easiest to display

What started with showing off the number of visitors to your Flickr pages or blog, now also encompasses the number of your Facebook friends (or any other social network), Twitter followers, Foursquare check-ins and a host of other metrics that indicate your 'wiredness'.

Foursquare, based around the deceptively simple idea of using your mobile device to 'check in' to any place once you arrive there, was widely considered the breakout application of 2009.

Malad-based Nick Mitra holds 30 Mayorships, including those for cake shop chain, Birdy's, and Hangout in his neighbourhood. "It's quite addictive. On Foursquare, you can add other users to a 'friends list' and compete on points, collect badges for certain milestones or accomplishments or check out how many Mayorships you and your friends hold. So, what starts off as fun turns into a heated competition," says the 22 year-old senior executive with a social media marketing firm.

Daksh Juneja has 30 Mayorships of locations as varied as Acres Club in Chembur and Dadar's Khodadad Circle to Manawar in Madhya Pradesh. His current collection of 13 badges range from Superstar, Super User, Supermayor (special shout-out for holding 10 Mayorships simultaneously), Overshare (10+ check-ins within 12 hours) and Zoetrope (check-ins in 10 different movie theatres). "You can't deny the immediate gratification of these virtual rewards," says the director of Avignyata Inc., a social media marketing consultancy that specialises in creating social media communication for clients.

CrowdedInk offers an app that allows users to generate mugs filled with pictures of their Facebook friends or Twitter followers

Rival app Gowalla similarly centres on rewards-based achievement for its 1 million-strong user base. With its user-experience couched in terms of a 'passport' of collectable 'stamps', Gowalla's USP and badge of cool is well-executed design. Since its launch in March 2009, brands have been partnering with the service to scatter a variety of virtual and physical goods and services.

"Redemption in any form is a driving factor, so these rewards are wildly popular," says Raunaq Sikka, who runs The Hungry Fish (.com), a digital agency. "All these applications have obvious benefits for marketers.
Increasingly, when users check in, they not only share geographical location, they endorse places or venues, and stake their claim to a variety of branded deals, offers and incentives."

Virtual gold mine
For instance, US-based Toys R Us has already had a major promotion for Black Friday. If you check-in via Foursquare to their stores that day, Tweet about it or post a Facebook 'places' status, you get $25 (Rs 1,140) off on any $150 (Rs 2,280) purchase (real world benefits), plus you get a special Toys R Us badge from Foursquare to show off to your friends. By all accounts, it was a success. But what is really interesting is that this was the first time a major brand used a combination of social media for promotion; not just dabbling with one as a 'test.'

Japanese social network DeNa made 79 per cent of its revenue from social gaming and virtual goods in 2010. Smurf Village skyrocketed and became itunes' highest grossing app in 2010, thanks to its offering of Smurf goods.

"Indian businesses are slow on the uptake, though," says Sikka.

InOrbit Malls isn't one of them. Last Diwali, the firm gifted discount and full value vouchers to the 'Mayors' of the chain's Vashi and Malad branches in Mumbai, and Hyderabad branches. "The digital realm is too big to ignore. We entered the space four months ago, on Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare, and are totally committed to it," says Nishank Joshi, AGM, corporation communications, InOrbit Malls.

Online goes offline
Another way people are straddling their online status into the offline world is the advent of 'Friends' products. Take the Facebook friends mug, for instance. This is a custom printed mug with all of your friends' portraits on it. And this is one of many examples of offline products that you can make with your online friends, Tweets and updates.

Twournal can make you a 'book' of your tweets and pictures

Twournal (.com) enables users of Twitter to transform their tweets and pictures into a real-life published journal. In addition to creating their own 'books', users can also buy and sell publications from other users. US-based 'Social media swag' CrowdedInk (.com) offers an app that allows users to generate mugs filled with pictures of their Facebook friends or Twitter followers. Users only need to enter their username and a preview of the mug is automatically generated in minutes.

Nerd Merit Badges (.com) are real-life, physical representations of a user's online achievements through Foursquare. The fully embroidered, velcro-backed badges sell for approximately $5 to $6 (Rs 230 to Rs 270). And Foursquare's own online store ( now offers similar real-world

The handbook

How to become a Mayor on Foursquare

1. Register for a free account on Foursquare(.com). Registering on Foursquare allows you to build a community of friends and also lets you discover the places you can check into.
2. Download and install the Foursquare app for your smartphone. Once the app has been installed, it will be able to report back to Foursquare when you check into a desired location.
3. To earn the Mayor Badge, you have to check into a particular location more times than anyone in the Foursquare community. Choosing a frequent location you already go to will make it easier for you to become the Mayor.
4. Show off your Mayor Badge to your friends, showcasing your greatness and challenge your friends to see if they can claim your title.

Trend forecast

Earn rewards for playing games
Zynga, the creator of social games like Farmville, CityVille, and PetVille has a new rewards programme called RewardVille. The rewards programme is designed to let users earn rewards or zPoints every time they play a participating Zynga game. Once a user reaches a certain level of points or when their zLevel increases, they will earn zCoins. A zCoin is Zynga's virtual currency that can be used to purchase in-game goods. RewardVille is in its current beta form and is set to slowly roll out to more users in the upcoming weeks.

More interactivity on apps
Moksh Juneja, social media expert and co-founder, Avignyata Inc. feels that unless Foursquare moves beyond the badges and mayorships, it will soon lose ground to other reward-based interactive apps and games. "For instance, the app now allows you to upload videos and pictures of places you visit. But imagine your phone alerting you to a potential business opportunity sitting right next to you at a movie theatre, and you reviewing their profile and educating yourself about that person and their business prior to engaging in conversation. We are not far from there."

Virtual rewards aren't for everyone
If you don't like being followed, though, location-based apps and the virtual rewards they offer are not for you. Blogger Ramya Pandyan (right) aka Ideasmithy (https:// joined Foursquare in 2010, but deleted her account within a week. "During that time, I must have 'checked in' twice," says the 31 year-old who found the format "engaging and attractive, the way Twitter was, when it first made an appearance". "It was a deliberate decision to delete my account. I realised that I could soon be drawn into frequent usage and I didn't want this level of information about me to be in the public domain. For instance, my favourite haunts, where I was, for how long and how often. I value my privacy and the freedom that the Internet offers me.

Keeping the balance between accessibility and privacy is really tricky. Twitter and Facebook fell in my permissible range while Foursquare didn't," says Pandyan.

Ask her why she didn't forsake the location-based app instead of deleting her account on it, and she says, "It would have been risky to leave the account unused, especially if an option to tag other people came into existence. Other people would be able to point out my location even if I didn't."

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