Archive for December, 2009

A guide to Foursquare etiquette

There’s been a lot of talk lately about location-based social gaming platforms such as Foursquare, Loopt and Gowalla.  Even Pete Cashmore recently went so far as to predict Foursquare as next year’s Twitter.

That may or may not be an exaggeration, but according to this data, it seems that more people are — at the very least — starting to explore location-based social networks by linking them up to their existing Twitter and Facebook profiles. However, for users who have just gotten used to Twitter and Facebook, these other networks (and how to act on them) may still seem very foreign.

I recently spoke to a reporter about folks who cheat at Foursquare and other location-based social gaming platforms, and was inspired to write up this quick guide to Foursquare etiquette. (NOTE: While I wrote this guide for Foursquare, it may be applied to other location-based social networks or games that involve “checking in” to a location.)

Here are some Foursquare dos and don’ts:


  • Create new, meaningful locations. Is there a landmark or cool restaurant that hasn’t been added to Foursquare? Do your fellow “Squares” (coining that term for Foursquare users) a favor and add it.
  • Add useful tips to existing locations. Do you have a favorite dish at a local restaurant? Is there a waiter or maître d‘ people should ask for? These are the tips that make location-based social networks (all social networks, really) cool — it’s the fact people are willing to share their local wisdom and preferences with others. If you have something to say about a given location that you think will help someone else out, take a second and add it.
  • Edit incorrect listings. Edit locations that have incorrect addresses and/or phone numbers, or restaurants and venues that are closed. By doing this, you’ll find that you may become a Foursquare Superuser in no time!
  • Share Foursquare promotions and deals with your friends. Know a bar or restaurant offering a great deal through Foursquare? Tell your friends on Facebook, Twitter and in real life.  (For instance, there are several I’ve used: The Drawing Room at Le Passage [occasional client] and David Burke’s Primehouse.) The more people use these deals, the more businesses will create special discounts for Foursquare users. Don’t be shy to proclaim your geekiness to your friends — you may save them some money.
  • Moderate how often you cross-post to Twitter and Facebook. It’s easy to connect your Foursquare account to your Facebook and Twitter profiles; that said, it’s easy to spam your Facebook and Twitter contacts with your check-ins. Be mindful of how often you cross-post, and make sure to cross-post only things you think are important. Going to McDonald’s in a drunken stupor at 4am with someone who’s not your significant other? It may be risky enough to post it on Foursquare, but especially don’t post it elsewhere. (A hat tip to Benedict Wong for this one.)


  • Don’t accept friend requests from people you only know through Twitter or Facebook. When someone signs up for Foursquare, they have the ability to pull in connections through their Twitter and Facebook accounts. If you get a Foursquare invite from someone you know only through those networks, and you’re not comfortable with them knowing where you are, don’t add them, but don’t get weirded out that you’re getting these requests either. I only become Foursquare friends with people I know personally, but that’s my cup of tea. (Another school of thought: “Don’t like ‘em? Don’t Foursquare ‘em.”)
  • Don’t check in to places you don’t actually go to. I work on Chicago’s famed Michigan Avenue, and I take the bus to work each day. If I’m active on Foursquare, I may check in to my job, into the Magnificent Mile and to my apartment (not my real address), but that’s it. Some folks, as they commute via bus, train or car, will check into locations they pass by briefly.There’s no reason to check into locations you don’t spend any time at, so don’t do it.
  • Don’t let Foursquare consume you. Nothing will get you in the doghouse quicker than constantly checking in on Foursquare when you’re on a date. If your Foursquare usage interferes with dates or family time, you’re not enjoying the time you actually spend at that location, so you may want to scale back a bit. If you feel you must check in, however, retreat to the restroom.

Up for discussion:

  • Retroactive check-ins. It’s easy to forget checking in to a location, but if you remember after the fact, will you bother going back to check in to locations you’ve left? (I know I’ve done this on occasion, which is why I didn’t put it in the “Don’t” section.)


Have I missed anything? Do you disagree with something I’ve said? Please feel free to post any additional thoughts you have as comments below.

- Daniel B. Honigman

119 comments December 29th, 2009

Tweet your media predictions for 2010

We made a few predictions for how the media landscape will change in the new year, and we think it would be fun to hear what you think will be big in 2010, in less than 140 characters.

Use the hashtag #Media2010 in your tweet, and let us know what you think is coming.

Going by our predictions entry, our tweet would be:

2010 media predictions: More collaboration (soon with Wave), tablets on the rise, mobile strategies emerge, paywalls lose favor. #Media2010

Update: Because tweets don’t live forever, the widget we had on this entry displaying predictions has gone away. Thanks to all who participated.

15 comments December 23rd, 2009

Media predictions for 2010

This post originally appeared on

When we all partied in 1999, who would have guessed how much things would change so quickly for the news industry in the first decade of the new millennium? In 10 short years, we saw change at a pace that was unprecedented in the history of mass media.

Instead of going back and examining those changes, which are well documented, I’m going to look ahead to 2010. Change is coming fast, so predicting what’s going to happen in the next year is perilous. But I’ll give it a shot anyway in three areas: social media, platforms and business models. Take all with a grain of salt.

Social media

The mainstream media really embraced social media in the last year of the decade. I think the media gets little credit for having done so, but the move to try out new tools was profound. When big news happens, newspapers, TV and radio stations are very likely these days to use Twitter and Facebook to collaborate with the community. In the next year, I think that collaboration will only grow. News organizations are realizing that user-generated content can be valuable, if used right. Twitter and Facebook are still relatively new tools, and journalists are just now hitting their stride with them. The interaction between journalists and the public is at an all-time high. For years, those of us in the news media have tried to find a way to make our reporters accessible to the public. We added e-mail taglines to stories, added reader comments online, etc. But it wasn’t until some powerful social media tools came along that we could really become accessible. It’s amazing when you think about it: An average fan could get in contact with a sports writer sitting in the press box at this year’s national championship football game through Twitter, ask a question – and get a response.

Social media is great for gathering public input and getting user-generated reports (think: Iran). In 2010, I see huge growth in using those mediums by the media, and some more experimentation in new tools that come our way, including Google Wave, which I believe has the potential to be the best collaboration tool journalists have ever seen. Real-time collaboration on a story is about to be a reality, and Wave will make it happen. Smart journalists are paying attention to Wave, though I predict it won’t be a serious option until near the end of 2010 (Google has scalability issues to work out, and developers need time to make it great).

New platforms

I think 2010 will be a year for big changes in the way we consume news. I’m not going to predict the death of print (that prediction has been around a long time, and print manages to keep chugging along). Rather, I see some new avenues complementing print and traditional broadcast media. The first one, I think, will be in tablets. Several tablets (touchscreen PCs that are roughly the size of a hardcover novel, but thinner) are on their way to the market. Apple is reportedly going to get into the game. Publishers are in talks with tablet makers to push content to the tablets. Apple jumping into the market could be huge. Can Apple do for publishers what it did for the music industry? I wouldn’t put it past them.

I also think 2010 will be the year that mobile really takes off. We almost saw it in 2009 with the prominence of the iPhone and the introduction of Android phones. Smart phones are becoming ubiquitous, and it’s only accelerating. With high speeds available (Sprint is unrolling 4G before many people are even on 3G), the possibilities are endless. I expect geolocation and QR codes to take off in the next year. Smart media companies will be paying attention to both technologies. Google is moving into the market quickly, offering QR codes to hundreds of thousands of local businesses. QR codes are like bar codes on steroids – people scan the codes with their mobile phones and it takes them to a URL. I can imagine a day (perhaps in the next year) when someone walks into a restaurant, scans a code printed on the menu with their mobile camera, and finds out instantly what the reviews are for the restaurant, not only from the public (via I predict Google-owned Yelp), but also from the local newspaper. If the local newspaper is smart, it is providing its own QR codes that serve as coupons for that particular establishment. Geolocation will also take off, and intertwine with social media. Foursquare and Gowalla, which are social networking games played over a geographic grid using mobile applications, will continue to grow (or be bought out by Google or Yahoo) and will become a bigger part of social media. The media should be watching these services carefully – there’s clearly some advertising potential here, because people are “checking in” to local businesses when they visit. Think about that.

New business models

The Miami Herald recently put out the tin cup online, asking for donations to “support ongoing news coverage” at the bottom of each story. The excitement over paywalls has died off some but is still around. Advertising revenue is expected to rebound some in 2010, along with the overall economy, so I predict that some of the more radical ideas (full paywall) will go by the wayside. Publishers should continue to look for new revenue streams, whether it is finding a way to monetize social media or make a buck off geolocation (imagine your phone buzzing when you walk by a bar, and the local newspaper is telling you about a drink special). I think experimentation in the next year is a good idea, but publishers should avoid throwing the baby out with the bathwater. We’ve made great strides in innovation – pushing too hard to make money off the new ideas might stifle some of the enthusiasm. If the ideas are truly good, their value will be revealed soon enough.

I hear all the time that this is a bad time for my industry. I don’t see it that way. I think it’s an exciting time, full of innovation. Of course, I still have my job, and I’m thankful for that. That’s it. I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday and a great new year.

14 comments December 23rd, 2009

How to launch a freelance writing career via Twitter (Case Study)

(NOTE: This is a guest post by Victoria Harres Akers)

Andrew Keys, a landscape designer and blogger, didn’t sign-up for Twitter with the intention of launching a writing career. In the spring of 2009 Andrew hesitantly created his @oakleafgreen Twitter account after a bit of coercion from a friend who told him it would be a great place for him to promote his landscape design firm.

So Andrew set out trying to find the value of Twitter for his business. What he found were people in his industry talking shop and learning from each other.

Intuitively, Andrew made smart connections. He followed people in his industry, including editors at gardening magazines. He stayed engaged, nurtured relationships as they developed and subsequently his investment of time resulted in an invitation to contribute to a national gardening magazine.

Three articles later and Andrew has added “freelance writer” to his resume.

I asked Andrew if he could offer some advice to other writers who would like to use Twitter to network and perhaps even pitch a story. He quickly recommended starting with research.

“Months before I created my Twitter account, I found a long list from a reputable blogger in my industry of her favorite Twitterers,” he says. “When I signed up, I went back to that list, followed everyone on it, joined the conversation and made some good connections.”

Even more connections followed from those initial relationships.

When I asked Andrew if there was one thing he’d done that really stands out as having helped him in his Twitter endeavors, he says, “I was real. That, to me is the crux of Twitter at its best.”

I agree.

“Don’t pigeonhole yourself,” he suggests. “All work and no play makes Andy a dull Twitterer! Keep in mind that Twitter is about being real, and it’s about entertainment…the more well-rounded you are in the discussion you generate, the larger a following you’re likely to gather.”

“In the end, I think that [earnest contribution to discussions] went a lot further in those editors’ minds than if I’d pitched them when we first met,” Andrew says. “And it went a lot further in my mind because I felt I actually came to know them and the rest of my community as people. That’s as valuable as any published article, if not more.”

Here are some final bits of wisdom Andrew shared:

  • Learn and obey the rules of Twittiquette {basically, be polite}
  • Post a photo of your actual face as your avatar
  • Nurture valuable relationships
  • Contribute intelligently to conversations
  • Self-promotion has a place on Twitter, but know when to stop
  • Be yourself and enjoy talking to people


If you’d like to contribute to Old Media, New Tricks, you can reach us through @mediatricks on Twitter.

64 comments December 22nd, 2009

The 3 E’s of Twitter

For you Twitter pros, this will be a bit of a reminder of what you should be doing. Twitter newbies, pay attention.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of posting one link after the next, spewing out an endless stream of information. Information’s great, but there should be a lot more to your tweets.

Without further ado, I bring you this: The Three E’s of Twitter

1. Engage

On Old Media, New Tricks, we talk a lot about how to use Twitter. There are lots of ways to gain more Twitter followers, or ways to build your personal brand through Twitter, or steps on how to livetweet an event, but the easiest way to make your Twitter efforts successful is this: engage.

Simply put, one builds social media credibility — and value — through engagement, and Twitter enables one-to-one, one-to-many or many-to-many discussions.

Smart Twitter use happens through engagement.

2. Educate

As a journalist, your role is to help provide readers with information and insight to help them answer some big questions: Who should I vote for? Which product should I buy? What does this new law mean, and how will it affect my family?

Twitter audiences love this kind of information. They crave it. In fact, they pride themselves on the fact that they know about news before their friends — just because they’re on Twitter.

While you engage on folks on Twitter, be sure to provide relevant information that makes their lives better, and as you build out your audience, take note of which people like which information. Take it upon yourself educate your audience about your beat, your news organization and yourself.

But it’s not just enough to link to the news; convince your readers just why they should pay attention to you. Instead of tweeting “X law goes into effect today: LINK,” tweet “X law goes into effect today, and this is why it matters: LINK”. You’ll find that your links will get more clicks, your tweets will get re-tweeted and your time spent on Twitter will be more useful.

3. Entertain

Engaging and educating are two Twitter essentials, but if you’re not a fun person to follow, people just won’t follow you. Don’t just tweet serious or work-related posts all the time; if you’re at a ballgame, tweet photos from the game. If you’re at a restaurant, post a picture or two of your food.

Have fun with your tweets, so that other people will have fun following you on Twitter.

What other tips — ones that begin with the letter “E” — would you suggest to others? Please add them as comments on this post!

- Daniel B. Honigman

92 comments December 11th, 2009

Video of the Day: Time Inc. envisions the future of magazines

This is just cool. And definitely worth a three minute break in your day.


16 comments December 3rd, 2009


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