Monday, June 28, 2010

Location-based Apps - Social Media Savvy CEO - I love this stuff!

So, it might take me a while to get the e-Learning m-Learning part of this, but just hang tight as I explain how I got this @ reply from the CEO of Wildflower Bread Co.

After introducing my kids to the concept of "checking in", I don't really need to think about it any more.  Any where we go my kids will say, "Dad, don't forget to check in", or "Dad, can I check in for you?". So I hand over the iPhone (the new iPhone 4.0 btw) and they go through all of my apps for checking in: Gowalla, Foursquare, mytown, Brightkite, and Yelp.

Checking in
The concept of checking in is a little scary to many, but if you set up the apps correctly there is nothing to worry about.

For the n00bs out there, "checking in" goes like this:
1) go to some some destination (store, restaurant, gas station, school...etc)
2) Take out your phone and open your favorite location-based social app.
3) Since your phone knows where you are it will show you all of the pre-listed locations you are "near".
4) Select your given location and CHECK IN.

Okay, that wasn't so hard.  Now what? Well...nothing really.  Depending on how you setup each app and if you have "friends" listed on the system a message will go out to the people you designate.  You can also take a picture and add that to the message that is sent along with a short text note.

I very rarely add text or an image.  Actually, last night was the first time I've ever added a picture to a checkin.
What prompted me to take a shot last night of all nights?  Well, actually, it was several things.  First and foremost, I just got the new iPhone and I'm always looking for an opportunity to try the camera.  Second, I was waiting for my food at WildFlower with my son and he was asking questions about the app..."oh look! does that button mean you can send a picture too?" And so I am now faced with a "tell or show" moment.  I prefer doing/showing vs. telling so we took a picture of the dessert case he had been eyeing since we walked in.  Check in complete...with my first checkin photo.  Cool!

Rewards in Gaming
Then my son says, "OH SWEET! You just became the Mayor of Wildflower, Dad!"  Now this is where I may lose some of you.  I can sense the eyes glaring at this page beginning to roll...if you haven't left already.

So, if you checkin enough times at a given location in Foursquare you will be given the title of Mayor...of that particular location.  Whoop de doo, right? Who cares.  Well, many people do.  In fact, I didn't think I did either until I started becoming the Mayor of a few places.  And just recently Starbucks started giving discounts to the store's Mayors.  I know there are other marketing deals with other companies in the works as well.  The marketing possibilities are endless limited only by your imagination.

Its a silly little reward to simply give a user a new title.  But its like winning!  Seriously, because there is also a LOSER.  The person that lost his/her crown gets a little msg that says, "you are no longer the mayor of __________."  And yes, there is a minor sense of "losing" when you get that little virtual pink slip.  You instantly feel the need to run out for another cup of coffee...or not.

Why Does the CEO care?
This morning I wake up and find the above @ reply from @WildflowerCEO.  Honestly, I don't know specifically what triggered the WildFlower's CEO to reach out.  But my guess is that the company monitors the status of it's store's Mayors.  I would! Wouldn't you?  Seriously, this is a no-brainer.  This is a direct line of contact with your customers that have proven themselves to be repeat customers.  And I don't care how important you are, when a company CEO sends you a message, it makes you feel good.  Of course, to you cynics out there, the thought did cross my mind that either this msg is automated or could have been created by the marketing department.  I prefer to think it truly was the CEO so don't burst my bubble here people ;-)

What if this CEO was a course facilitator monitoring students?  What if you were studying art and you were the Mayor of the local art museum, or gallery?  That might give you some serious street cred in the art community...maybe.  There is a lot to consider here.

Is there something to be learned here, Brent?
I hope you are seeing the learning potential here and the opportunity for creative instructional designers.  I see so many opportunities.  It all depends if people are willing to share their experiences.  But it also depends upon the instructional designers giving learners a reason to care about sharing their experiences.  This will be hard for anyone to grasp if their only reference point for learning is a classroom.  This is about sharing and learning together.  Its social.  It requires the free form exchange of ideas and social give and take.

Location based services and mobile apps are not going away.  These technologies are only in their infancy, but there is a powerful draw that enhances our already highly digital social experiences.  These apps, and services should be on your radar if you are serious about innovative e-Learning design.

DevLearn 2010 Conference and Expo - November - San Francisco, CA
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