Redskins Score with Fourquare – Or did they?

Today’s edition of SmartBrief on Social Media points to a Social Media Examiner blog post with the title “Redskins Score with Foursquare“. The article summary geos on to ascertain “The Washington Redskins have scored a big win with a Foursquare campaign…. 

I think this story exemplifies what is wrong with social media marketers today. No discredit to the Redskins (they are a good team), SmartBrief (I read it every day) or the Social Media Examiner, which usually has really good posts. Not a criticism of the marketers who had good intentions and are experimenting with new social tools. My problem is with qualifying this as a “big win”.

The success of the campaign is measured in over 20,000 check-ins at the stadium. Great – 20,000 is a good number, right? Let’s see: We just finished week 16 of the regular NFL season, which means the Redskins had about 1,250 check-ins per game. According to the NFL, the Redskins FedEx stadium holds 86,484 fans. Which means 1.45% of fans could have checked at the stadium.

Where is the big win? knowing that 1.45% of the fans that purchased a ticked made it to the stadium does not seem like a big win to me. There is value in giving your fans a badge, for sure. There could be value in knowing that 30,000 fans checked in at participating restaurants (I assume all 86,484 fans are hungry and eventually eat somewhere during the 16 week period, in other words there is no indication of causality).

Growing the number of followers on Twitter and Foursquare (or Facebook fans) can be a good thing, if used properly. The value of a follower or a fan is zero until you do something with them. As I have said before, a fan or a follower is not really different from an email subscriber: a customer giving you permission to connect with them. The value comes from communicating with the customer with a relevant message that helps them or helps you.

In order to be a big win, the campaign would need to have helped with specific business objectives, such as increasing ticket or merchandise sales, accelerating season pass renewal, increasing viewership of games on TV or driving patrons to restaurants. Until then, this was a cool campaign with good engagement.

Congrats to the Redskin marketing team for embracing social media and my respects for experimenting with new tools like foursquare. I look forward to hearing about real wins.