Showbiz is making it a point to check out the new check-in craze.
Foursquare, the latest darling in the social media universe, encourages users to “check in” wherever they go, earning them points, badges and potentially, promotional deals — and even the honorary title of “mayor” of site frequented, depending on how many times they visit a bar, store or any other venue.
Bravo, the History Channel, HBO, VH1 and MTV have recently inked partnerships with the location-based social media start-up, which has reached more than 1 million users.
“A lot of these entertainment companies are trying to figure out: How can we find ways to engage with our viewers and fans in an offline fashion?” says Tristan Walker, head of business development at Foursquare.
Bravo led the charge, cozying up to Foursquare in February and creating badges for its “Real Housewives,” “Top Chef,” “The Fashion Show,” “The Millionaire Matchmaker” and “Sheer Genius” skeins. The network’s more than 14,000 followers receive tips from “Bravolebrities” on where to eat, drink and shop, mostly in Gotham.
Followers earn badges based on where they check in. For example users can unlock a “Real Housewives” badge by checking into the various restaurants, bars and shops touted by the cast members.
“The idea around social media for us is to truly engage our audience — to have them talking in a conversation about Bravo, about our shows, about what were doing,” says Ellen Stone, the network’s senior vice president of marketing.
MTV and VH1 are plugging shows like “The Hills” and “What Chilli Wants,” with tips from the show’s celebrities, while the History Channel is doling out impromptu lessons (and badges) to followers who check in to various historical venues in 22 cities across the U.S. for its “America: The Story of Us” skein.
“It gives you another opportunity to engage when eyes aren’t on the screen,” Walker says of the service. “And I think that’s the true appeal.”
And, while it’s an appeal that ultimately may hinge on how badly someone wants to go down in History as mayor, such virtualities are not to be trifled with.