[tweetmeme] Restaurant owners are quickly discovering how to usetools like , and to their advantage and drive customers to their tables, but there’s a guy in Wisconsin doing it better than almost anyone else.
Joe Sorge, who runs a burger joint in Milwaukee called AJ Bombers, shot me a tweet yesterday to tell me about a Foursquare party they had this week that brought a flash mob of 161 Foursquare users to his restaurant. My eyebrows shot up when I read that number. 161 check ins in one day?! How could that be? There are only about three or four hundred Foursquare users total in Milwaukee?! Over 150 of them were in the same place, on the same afternoon?
When I called him up, Joe explained. They came to earn the highly coveted and elusive Foursquare “Swarm Badge” – something you can only get when 50 or more Foursquare users check in at the same place at the same time. I hadn’t heard of it, but apparently the promise of this coveted Foursquare badge can really draw a crowd.
Before I launch into my interview where Joe discusses how he did it, here’s video from the beginning of the event so you can get an idea of what was going on at the restaurant at the start of the event.
Video From The AJ Bombers Foursquare Swarm Badge Party
Flickr Photos from the AJ Bombers Foursquare Swarm Badge Party…
Wonder how AJ Bombers did it? Here’s my interview with Joe…
Q: What made you to decide to take the leap to try and base an event around the Swarm Foursquare badge? (did you see it done well and replicate? did foursquare come to you? How did you find out about it and decide to go for it?)
A: We had been noticing our twitter fan base really getting in to Foursquare lately so I went about investigating the various badges that could be achieved and found the elusive Swarm badge at the bottom of a badge page, awarded for a gathering of 50 or more foursquare users. We thought it was a great idea, so we started searching the web for how the badge worked and got in touch with Foursquare who helped us out.
Q: How did you organize/coordinate the event with foursquare?
A: Total time considered, organizing the event took us about a week. Once I connected with Foursquare, I emailed back a forth with them about logistics and asked some specific questions about how the badge was awarded and to how many users, etc. They were TOTALLY on board with the event by the way, even tweeting about it themselves just hours before we were to be awarded the badge
Q: How did you get the word out before the event?
A: We used twitter primarily, but the main tool was called a Twtvite from the good tweeps at TwApps. Here’s the Twitvite we sent out. We cross promoted the event as a fundraiser for Milewake SWSX. As we got closer to the event the invite spread out on social networking sites like Facebook as well. We had almost 100 people sign up beforehand, and over 100 people Tweeted about it. By 1:30pm, before the event was supposed to start, the restaurant was already packed with people.
At almost 3pm on the dot, people on the inside of the restaurant all got notification at the same time from Foursquare that they had earned the Swarm badge and they all started Tweeting about it. There was a lot of energy in the room at that moment that I wish we could have captured on video. There was so much word of mouth happening when people started telling their friends on Twitter that they’d gotten the badge. New comers were earning the badge for over 3 hours, right up until 6:20pm. Even 56 users who’d never used Foursquare signed up and checked in just to get the badge.
Q: Did you have any anxiety/legitimate concerns that it wasn’t going to work before the day of? (if so, what were they)
A: Absolutely I was concerned that we couldn’t get to the number needed all at once. FourSquare assured that the network would be there for us, and it was!
Q: Just one more thing, got any tips for managing the mob when they show up?
A: Eat, Drink and Check-in!
Q: What sense did you get that people really wanted out of the event? To meet others? Were they there just for the badge? How many of them knew each other already (i.e. did they come in groups, or were they all individuals who came alone)
A: This event, like nearly every Social Media event that we do was and is all about community and building something, or in this case earning something together. We are, after all, a restaurant built by twitter and now made even more fun by foursquare.
So there you have it, right from the horse’s mouth. I hope this confirms for any nay-sayers out there that social media can work for you. If you have any questions for Joe, let’s discuss them here in the comments.