Coffee Shops – Share while you sip

Looking around the coffee shops I frequent, I see three things:

  1. People enjoying themselves
  2. Lots of computers and phones
  3. Most importantly lots of sitting, no rushing.

This got me thinking… How can coffee shops encourage their patrons to share their experience? Turn this simple visit into a sharing and communication opportunity.  

While sitting at a local shop, I sketched this:

Call to action
It tells people what we want them to do. “As you sip, share about us.” Depending on your taste it could be more direct. 

We know patrons have a great experience at our shop (this is not true for all shops), so let’s get them sharing those feelings with their friends online.

Tells them where to share
Putting actual icons tells people where to share. If you’ve got a great espresso artist and have a big flickr following, put the flickr logo. Only put the logos of sites where you are actively communicating.

Show love to your biggest fans
The 3rd part is the 2d code. The sky is the limit on the 2d code’s use, but a simple idea would be:

  • Have it share a message such as, “Tag your comment today with #2dcoffee for your chance to win a free ________. We pick a winner each week!” Hell, one winner? Coffee isn’t that expense, pick 10 winners!
  • Ask them to sign up for a newsletter. “Sign up for our monthly newsletter about everything coffee. Newsletters also include coupons for FREE coffee or new menu items. 

HOLD UP. Why the heck would you give away free stuff? Remember these are your biggest fans. These are the people spending time at your shop, willing to scan a code, and share their email. These few people want to have a closer connection with you. Who better than to try your new menu item out on, or just reward them?

You’re at your local coffee shop, you love it, would you share something with your friends? As a frequent customer, would you appreciate being rewarded?

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Stop being so damn agreeable.

I am an addict to Twitter chats. One I really enjoy is #likeablechat. It flows nicely, has some pretty good questions and is at a time when people can actually join in, Sunday 10PM EST.

As I take part in more chats, I’m realizing how agreeable people are. A quick glance of the transcript shows a lot of agreeing and sharing others’ ideas. Hey that’s great, but if we came here to agree with everyone, what’s the point? We don’t learn from agreeing all the time, and it’s boring.

The more frustrating thing I find is most ideas are so utopian it makes me gag. Maybe I’m wrong, but is the purpose of a chat to create the most beautifully crafted quotable post, and see how many times it can be RTed? Sometimes it seems that way.

There are rarely any messages that go against what the masses are RTing and +1ing. When there are, they usually are quickly overtaken by other more positive messages. I used to be one of those 100% positive messages. Here’s a post from last night that you’d rarely see on my stream, but I believe it to be true:

Yes there’s a typo in my tweet. “Isn’t”
Yes it’s unpolished. Some would say I’m a bad writer, especially at 140 characters. 

The Response
The response I got was fabulous. Lots of people disagreed! It was great. I’d like to share two comments that caught my eye and I appreciated. Unfortunately most of the other disagreements came in the form of RTs. Come on people there’s nothing original in a RT. How are we to learn, if we just repeat ourselves?

@MayzYap Profits may me the ends for companies but it’s not sustainable as means. Providing value+innovation+quality!

@DaveKerpen: No way @dougridley many co. not just driven towards profits. @likeabemedia driven to change the world. #LikeableChat

So what did a honest, but different answer do?
For me it made the conversation more honest and interesting. In this conversation we couldn’t talk about a company’s drive and building relationships without mentioning that money is a huge factor. Someone can build as many meaningful relationships as they want, but without profits a company wouldn’t exist. Of course relationships can lead to profits, but again, it comes back to profits.

Unanticipated reaction
I had more people follow me during tonight’s chat than any other chat before. I know, quality over quantity. That’s bullshit. I bet Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber and anyone else with a +1 million following aren’t saying that. In the end, it’s an audience; one that needs to be respected and nurtured. BUT, more followers, means more chances your thoughts are shared, means more conversation, means greater influence, leading to more relationships.

My suggestion?
Speak honestly and let the community respond. Don’t let your virtual ego be shy. What’s the worst that will happen? Someone’s going to say, “I disagree and here’s why.” That’s a perfect response, now we’re going somewhere.

Foursquare Day Scavenger Hunt (ok, better name needed)

Starting conversations with +Walter Elly +Brian Sullivan and @myfrienddan about using Foursquare as a foundation for a game really got my camp brain working. I used to love to create games as a program director. Here are some ideas that I’ve been thinking for a Foursquare scavenger hunt:

Goal: Players must visit local businesses in a set amount of time and complete specific challenges for each business. Checking in is a must.

1. A game needs a winner and some sort of prize. 
This prize could be something ridiculous such as an actual foursquare ball, flattening, framed, and mounted for hanging. OR it could be something useful like a gift certificate from a local business. The better the prizes, the better the game.

2. A game needs a set about of time. 
How long does it take to run around Portsmouth? Don’t know, but too little time frustrates players, too much time bores them to death. I prefer having little time as needed so that players must make choices and can’t do everything. Makes the replay value higher.

3. It MUST benefit the local businesses participating
Business need to see some sort of return for letting us use their name, and potentially having people run in and out of their store. For example a Stonewall kitchen challenge may include testing their jams and Tweeting or leaving a tip or even taking a photo of your favorite jam and why. The Music Hall challenge might be to Tweet or leave a tip on your favorite upcoming show.

4. Players need a map
I see this map as a map of Portsmouth with just dots, no company name. Players will then need to go to that area and look for a window sticker that signals a participating business. Maybe challenges that are clustered close together are less points (i.e. challenges in the square), but challenges that are farther away are more points (i.e. visiting StreetFood360).

5. Scoring needs to be clear
Completing a challenge gives you a specific amount of points, maybe there are guest judges that will give bonus points for creativity when it comes to taking pictures. MAYBE it’s not virtual points, but players get actual tokens for completing challenges, which can then be turned in for prizes, or dropped into raffle boxes for a chance to win prizes. Maybe completed challenges will need to be shared on Twitter with a specific tag.

6. A game needs to be friendly so anyone with a smartphone and Foursquare can play. 
It should be accessible even to someone who wants to join off the street.

7. A game needs a referee and a central location to ask questions
Why not setup a booth in the square with a few people to answer questions, track points, etc… This way everyone playing knows where to go or who to call if they have a problem.

8. Players need to be recognizable. 
I think this is as simple as making pins for players.

9. There needs to be new elements thrown in throughout the game
This idea comes from @myfrienddan. We could have people in costume that are “released” during the game. We then tweet that this character is out in a specific area and if caught will give bonus points to the player.

I know that Foursquare day is next spring, but I love making up games. I also see this as a great way to engage locals and visitors with our local businesses. Love to share your thoughts and make this a reality. Maybe we could even do one sooner?

Stop confusing communication with engagement

…it’s only hurting us, and our relationship with consumers. There is a clear difference between the word communicate and engage, so why are people using them as if they are the same?

Defining communicate and engage

Talking about one’s engagement strategy is great, but people need to understand that engagement means you are involving others and making meaningful connections with them. This in turn attracts others who begin participating and building their own meaningful connection with you and the community. Communication is just a small part of an engagement strategy.

What I hear most people sharing is a communications strategy. Important yes, but not nearly as cool as engagement.

Here’s what I propose. Let’s all assume we can communicate. It’s easy; answer questions, convey ideas, start conversation, etc… That’s now the price of admission. The conversation is now about how we are building meaningful relationships with our community. Again, yes you need to communicate, but how are we involving them? How are we elevating individuals to make connections?

Balancing Twitter, Facebook, and Google+

With a new platform in town, I’m struggling to find the balance and usefulness of Google+. The word struggle is a bad choice, better word is discover. Hey, it’s new, aren’t we all discovering?

The past two days I’ve found this balance between the three. Obviously things will change, probably tomorrow, but it’s a start.

Facebook is now keeper of all my non-tech hungry friends and family. Almost all of my FB friends don’t have a @handle and don’t check their email. FB will still be the way I contact them.

In the end, it’s clunky. Once you’ve entered FB’s world it’s hard to get back out, everything is about them.

@dougridley
Twitter is where my chats are happening.
It’s fast, quick, and easy. I can share what I’m thinking or respond to a question. It’s almost all professional friends as well. Very few personal friends have @handles and even fewer Tweet more than twice a week.

My issue with Twitter is sharing outside information. Yes it’s easy to share a link, but until I click on it, I have no clue what to expect. Not even a thumbnail. Then I can’t easily see a comment thread based around the shared link.

G+ link: goo.gl/qPQcn
Google+ is my reference and how I’m finding articles and posts that pertain to me.
Right now I’m finding their Spark feature to be a valuable tool in finding new information and their Stream to be a useful way to keep track of what circles are posting. I also really enjoy being able to respond to posts directly in the notifications window. Simple, it doesn’t make me leave my current view, and takes two clicks and a few seconds.

How are you finding the balance between the three new powers? I hesitate to call them ALL “super powers.” I think Google is on the right track but has more growing to do.

Brian DeKoning from Vital Media just shared this post from Christina Trapolino which shares some of her great thoughts on G+:

Testing… Testing… Is anyone out there?

9:44PM – Twitter just decided to take a nap for a bit. It’s been 8 minutes, and the only reason why I noticed was because I’m on #socialchat.

Twitter's Fail Whale. What a great name.

I know Twitter goes down every once and a while and it’s free so one can’t complain too much. BUT I’m wondering:

What have you been doing?
Where did you go?
How many times did you click the refresh button on whatever app you use?

9:46PM – Ahh. it’s back!  Rejoining #socialchat, but will finish in a moment.

10:04PM – I’m interested in hearing how people react when forms of communication go down. Especially now that there are other platforms to quickly grab our attention.

Interested to know what you did! I jumped to G+ and Facebook, but always looking at my chat tab.

The 140-stroke twitter masterpiece

This post began as a tweet from @TaraMarkus

I asked Tara to share her thoughts on the art of Twitter.

Twitter, in my mind is a gateway to relationship investment and enrichment. This is the reason Tweets are like works of Art. The Art of conversation has much value. When we at least attempt to design each Tweet as if it were 140 character masterpiece we then start to create an ‘art form of communication’. Throughout history and probably forever more Art will continue to speak volumes. Art allows us to express our unique individuality and our message to the world. With this in mind, I feel “Twitter is a platform and tweets are an art form that become our signature!” – Tara

After talking with Tara, and being from a sculpture background, I began to wonder… How would one begin to craft a masterpiece tweet?

Scale – How large is your studio space?
Twitter helps us determine the scale with a 140-character limit, but just because a piece of artwork is big doesn’t make it good. RTs are an important reason to not use the entire 140-character limit.

Depending on the length of your handle you’ll want to leave enough room for “RT @yourhandle” Personally, I aim for tweets no longer than 125-characters in length.

Connection – How does your work speak to us?
We’ve determined the approximate scale, now it’s time to determine the message you are attempting to convey. All great works of art make a connection with an audience. Your audience needs to be drawn in, your message needs to speak to them and want them to share their experience with friends.

Artistic Craftsmanship – Even the Surrealists knew what they were doing.
There are some works of art that take months if not years to create, but most often in the world of Twitter you’ll have just a few seconds. Remember craftsmanship is still very important.

Craft it:

  • Keep your tweets short and direct. Make sure to leave enough space for your followers to RT.
  • Know your audience and speak to them. Don’t waste the opportunity; Twitter is your gallery and you need to create something that’s worth showing.
  • Take three seconds to proof your tweet. Read it aloud and cut out the crap before posting.

To me a great tweet is a like a work of art. It needs thought and an audience to show to. Sometimes it can be controversial and other times it can inspire. In the end, it should be accessible to your audience and worth spending some time with (even if that time is just a few seconds).

How would you describe your perfect tweet?