Attention Foursquare: You need to melt faces

In: Social Media

24 Mar 2010

The Chronicle of Higher Education has an article up about Foursquare. Only it’s not about what Foursquare’s creators designed it for.

College students at University of Texas are tagging their campus with jokes, tips and gags. Not “tips” as in “I checked in on Foursquare and then left a tip.” No, students are leaving behind tags marking “the teacher they loathed,” “the room they smoked pot in,” and “the couch they had sex on.”

Awesome. Now THAT’S how you build an online grassroots community.

This is the kind of emergence that separates a Plurk from Twitter. Friendster from Facebook. Google Video from YouTube. To truly grow an online community, you have to get lucky and have one of these emergent lightning strikes. You have to encourage your community to use your product in a way you had NO IDEA existed.

If you’re really lucky, this emergent behavior will be self-replicating. For instance, “retweeting” and “follow friday”, had nothing to do with Twitter. They were created by the users. The exceptional part is how retweeting and follow friday reproduce themselves. If someone #Followfridays you, you are exposed to the trend. You then #Followfriday someone else. Other people see you tweet the tag. They do it to. It spreads faster than an chain email from your mom.

In the gaming space, World of Warcraft was amazing at promoting memes in its community. Blizzard did this by giving their massive player base a central place to talk – the Official WoW Forums – and making sure their customer service reps (Blues) allowed these memes to unfold. Want an example? Let’s melt some faces.

So there’s your answer, Foursquare. Give students easy ways to deface their colleges.

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What is a Wavedash?

1) A technique in Super Smash Bros. Melee that lets you move quickly without changing direction.

2) A blog about online communities and the grassroots engines that power them.

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