We Came, We Swarmed, We Almost Conquered …

Adelaide had its first Foursquare Swarm recently. Friday 27 August, to be exact.

What’s a swarm? you ask. What’s Foursquare, you ask? [read my blog from a long time ago ..]

Adelaide Foursquare Swarm August 2010, pic by @charlierobinson
It's hard work, this swarm organising ...

When 50 people check into the same Foursquare location within an hour of each other, it’s designated a ‘swarm’ and you’re awarded a swarm badge. Foursquare awards all sorts of virtual badges for your use of its service, starting with the newbie badge. [On this particular day, some people also earned other badges such as Player Please, when you check into a location with 3 members of the opposite sex].

In Australia in particular, the swarm badge is very hard to earn – we don’t have the Foursquare population to make it easily achievable.

I had the idea a few months ago, when I saw a tweet about a Sydney advertising agency that had set the record for the largest swarm in Oz. They had 265 people check in at an event. That set me thinking: the record doesn’t seem that large. Adelaide might just be able to break it.

Did we break it? Nah. But we had achieved Adelaide’s first swarm and had about 117 people congregate at Adelaide Central Market’s China Town district during their Friday lunch hour.

So what’s the big deal? And why did we do it?

There’s a number of reasons:

  1. It’s nice to be first. Foursquare is gradually taking off in South Australia. While it’s still not known to most of the population (hey, most South Aussies still aren’t using Twitter), the numbers are steadily rising and when it hits the younger, music festival-attending crowd, we’re likely to see many more swarms this summer. But we were part of the very first one in Adelaide.
  2. It’s good to test these things out. We were quite a crowd, on that sunny Friday lunch time. The businesses surrounding us didn’t know what it was about, but they could see something was happening. Passersby looked at us curiously. We had a few clever businesses on Twitter attempt to provide an offer to Foursquare swarm attendees. Imagine if a) more businesses were aware a crowd would be there b) I had been arsed to try and organise some attractive promotions for the people attending …  In future, if Adelaide businesses do become Foursquare savvy, the landscape for swarms could change entirely. “If we achieve a swarm today, it’s 50% off”. That sounds nice.
  3. We wanted to get out of the office. Too often, social media enthusiasts are called bedroom-dwellers who need to ‘get a real life’. The opposite is true. Social media enthusiasts are usually keen to get out and share a meal or a drink, to meet new people, make connections and learn from each other. It’s not easy to walk out of your front door and go meet a stranger – but we do it. Events like this, and other Adelaide tweetups through #socadl and #atub, show that we’re using social media to congregate and make friends. The swarm was a very public demonstration of that. The other thing I loved about the swarm: the variety of people there. All ages, with a mix of professionals and students.
  4. We wanted the badge! Fellow swarm organiser @twillyon postponed his skiing holiday to take part. That’s dedication! [Then he actually earned the badge a week earlier at LAX during a US social media conference trip]. Another organiser, @malchia, ducked out of a Marketing Week lunch –  the massive culmination to a week-long fest in Adelaide that the advertising and comms community rails around – to make it to the swarm. My husband @cave_man_dave knocked off work early, and his mate @jballstars started his holidays early to attend. It’s just something that Foursquare enthusiasts didn’t want to miss.

A big thank you to @stephenyarwood @twillyon and @malchia for being part of the swarm team: they’re affable and energetic guys who would’ve had fun if nobody had turned up.

There were lots of photos taken by the people who ‘swarmed’ with me. Twitpic has just a few under the #AdelSwarm tag.

Further reading:

Foursquare Swarm Breakfast a Winner for Vivo Cafe

Are Foursquare Swarm Parties Cooler than Facebook Cocktail Parties?

Restaurant Owner Increases Sales by 110% with Foursquare Swarm Badge Party

4 thoughts on “We Came, We Swarmed, We Almost Conquered …

  1. Nice post and well done to yourself (@praky), Mal (@malchia), Stephen (@stephenyarwood) and Tom (@twillyon) for organising. I thought it mildly interesting to note that in Sydney today there was a Foursquare swarm at the ANZ stadium for the Swans v Carlton game. You never know, as social media and location based tools gain popularity, we may even find a swarm at an Adelaide United or SANFL game.

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