There is a cycle to all popular trends, regardless of industry. There are the first to market, either classics with staying power or fleeting successes, and then followers are guaranteed. Sometimes, these are cheap knock-offs, but other times, even better versions than the original. For instance, for all you basketball fans out there, the “Big 3” in the NBA originally consisted of Boston Celtics Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett, and the league is now led by LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwayne Wade who have teamed up in South Beach for the Miami Heat. In the social media space, Friendster led to MySpace which was eventually followed and overpowered by Facebook.
The curve for social media trends seems to be shorter than in other industries, new apps are popping up daily. SCVNGR is a great example of this; the increasing popularity of FourSquare and other location based social apps led to its creation. According to its website, “SCVNGR is a game about doing challenges as places.” Much like FourSquare, you are able to check in at various locations using the app on your smart phone. However, with SCVNGR checking in is not enough, the experience is more interactive. With this new app, you can go to your favorite local spots to check-in and once you’re there, you will be prompted to complete different tasks or challenges to gain points. You may have to take a photo at a park, solve a riddle at a museum, scan a QR code at a theater, or do some other kind of adventurous activity. The points you earn for completed challenges are redeemable for bragging rights as well as unlocking badges and other features. Companies can create their own challenges or hunts as a cheeky way to involve adventurous consumers with their brand.
Recently, the New England Patriots tapped SCVNGR for a promotion to get fans excited about the upcoming football season. They have created their own “Trek” and compiled a list of themed challenges for fans to complete at various locations throughout New England, in order to help Patriot player Vince Wilfork find his “stolen” Super Bowl ring. The campaign has received much press for both the NFL organization and the application itself. Other SCVNGR adopters include major universities (such as Duke University and Princeton), city tourism councils (the City of Rochester and Boston are both users), and several museums throughout the country.
Marketers are just starting to jump on board the location-based social media app train, with good reason. The interactive nature of these applications lend themselves to promotions – put an incentive behind these behaviors and the usage rate will surely soar. FourSquare, Loopt, Gowalla and now SVCNGR are great new platforms to attract, engage and reward consumers and I can’t wait to see what comes next.