Foursquare Goes Mainstream, Teams With Bravo TV

Bravo and Foursquare

Foursquare's fortunes look good—today it's due to announce a tie-up with Bravo TV that'll see its location-based social network move into a more mainstream role. But will this experiment repeat the disaster of Fox TV's live Twitter event?

Bravo's SVP for marketing Ellen Stone sums up precisely why this tie-up is happening: Foursquare's spiraling popularity and the chance to increase Bravo TV customer's engagement with the channel. "We saw the Foursquare phenomenon taking off [...] Our audience is always looking for new and unique engagements and this is perfect for them," Stone says.

The actual workings of the collaboration are pretty straightforward, and they'll be leveraging Foursquare's gaming elements, centering mainly on the achievement badges Foursquare players compete for. When Foursquare-playing Bravo viewers visit over 500 special locations, chosen to match up with a selection of Bravo shows, they'll be rewarded with a special badge. That gives Bravo a degree of advertising, it connects Foursquare to a successful TV channel, and it'll probably please Bravo viewers who'll feel a gentle sense that they've somehow taken part in their favorite shows.

The idea almost couldn't be simpler, and would seem to be relatively risk-free for both business parties. The only sticking point is that so far it's been pretty tricky to integrate social networking into TV channels efforts at increasing customer engagement. The worst example is Fox's dreadful, failed attempt to get users engaged by broadcasting a live Twitter feed over episodes of Glee and Fringe—it was disastrous, and seemed to turn off many potential viewers of the shows. Luckily the Foursquare plan actually requires users to take part in the Bravo game, meaning that disinterested Bravo viewers or Foursquare players probably won't be affected.

And the players themselves stand to benefit more than mere Foursquare badges of honor: There are plans to have sweepstakes and actual prizes coded into the location-based Foursquare Bravo tips, and advertisers playing along could also offer benefits like coupons.

The biggest signal sent by this plan is that TV really is changing in our mobile Internet world. Bravo's decision to use a very cutting-edge and emergent gaming phenomenon is pretty fascinating, and it actually seems directed at generating some extra fun for its customers as well as acting as a clever PR vehicle. While Fox messed up the Twitter experiment, perhaps we'll start seeing a degree more interactivity from other TV providers too—after all, the rate that mobile social networks are evolving and expanding is incredible, and new ways of using the systems are emerging all the time.

[Via The New York Times]

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