THE BLOG

To Check in or Not to Check in at CES 2011

01/06/2011 10:27 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

2011-01-06-ces2011.jpg

Social media engagement has finally arrived at the 2011 Consumer Electronics
Show in Las Vegas. The CES event, located at the Las Vegas Convention Center,
actually broke over 150 people over a 2 hour period on FourSquare
yesterday. Last year, right before the official opening of CES, at about the
same time, check ins on FourSquare didn't even make it over 50 people.

The greater amount of FourSquare check-ins at CES in 2011 show people are
finally getting the idea. Social media has received a lot of coverage this past
year with awards shows like the live Tweeted MTV Video Music Awards and
nationally advertised North Pole badge awarded to Parker Liautaud, a 15 year old
from California, along with a US Astronaut, Douglas H. Wheelock on STS-120, that
earned a "NASA Explorer" badge. This year's social media tracks at CES have also
changed and for the better.

Last year, I spoke at CES about social media, with a focus on brand engagement.
The setup last year was so that each person received about seven to ten minutes
to talk about their specific topic, relating to social media. This year adds to
that by bringing in several speakers that are moderated. These panels have
proven to be a lot more engaging to the crowd. Moderators gauge the crowd, while
driving the discussion to where everyone will get the most out of each session.
Make no mistake; everyone on each social media panel will be talking about
services like FourSquare that check into something.

FourSquare is not the only social media check in game out there. Gowalla has
proven popular with a certain segment of location based services fans, but has
far fewer users. Facebook now allows you to check into places like McDonald's,
who donated a $1 to a charity for each check in at their stores. There is
a secondary market of check in services like Instagram that add a twist of fun.
Via what's known as an Application Programming Interface or API, Instagram is
not strictly a LBS. You may not have heard of this service before because it is
only available to iPhone and iPod users. They don't even have a website where it
shows work of their users. They are taking a different approach to how people
check into places.

The first LBS service I used that allowed me to upload pictures of the locations
visited was Gowalla. Now, because of Instagram, FourSquare asks that you to
upload a picture along with what you want to say. That part of FourSquare isn't
that much fun, however. Users of Instagram are raving about it because it
doesn't just simply snap a photo of the location you're checking into. It has
cool filters that imitate old cameras or funky processing by certain chemical
mixtures. There are no badges on this service, but that's left for FourSquare to
award. Each picture uploaded onto Instagram accompanies an option to check into
where you're located.

There is some major movement in the San Francisco technology scene by hip
executives that use Instagram and people like Jack Dorsey, the creator of
Twitter, whom I discovered Instagram from, uses it to post photos to his Twitter
profile. Because pictures are worth a thousand words, it's easier to post a
photo in Instagram, check into a location on FourSquare and post it to Twitter,
with just a few words, all at the same time. In the future when wireless
broadband and cell phones can deal with video more efficiently, a video version
of exactly what Instagram is doing will come about. Maybe they'll even do the
same for video as they've done for pictures. As Jeffrey Hayzlett, the former CMO
of the Eastman Kodak Corporation and now a popular author once told me, a video
is worth a thousand pictures.

For now, brands are excited to jump into FourSquare, now that they've seen
millions more using the service. That's great for them so they can use CES as a
testing epicenter for the next evolution in business to consumer direct
engagement. Buyers, press and industry affiliates will be using FourSquare this
year to win prizes and social recognition by checking into the following
locations.

· 2011 International CES

· 2011 CES Experience CEA, LVCC, Grand Lobby

· 2011 CES, LVCC, North Hall

· 2011 CES, LVCC, Central Hall

· 2011 CES, LVCC, South Hall

· 2011 CES, Las Vegas Hilton

· 2011 CES, High Performance Audio at The Venetian

· 2011 CES Press Day (Wednesday, January 5, 8:00 am - 5:45 p.m. at The Venetian)

· 2011 CES Research Day (Wednesday, January 5, 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm LVCC North
Hall)

· Official CES Tweetup, Space Quest Bar, Las Vegas Hilton (Friday, January 7,
4:00 - 7:00 pm)

That's a lot of places to visit in any expo, but you'll only need to check in at
five of the 10 official CES venues between Tuesday, January 4 and Sunday,
January 9 to earn the 2011 CES FourSquare badge. By dedicating some of your
time at the show, you could win the following.

· Sonos is giving two lucky winners a House Full of Music -- with each receiving
4 Sonos ZonePlayers and a Sonos Controller. Enter for your chance to win by
showing your 2011 CES badge at the Experience CEA booth. Follow Sonos @Sonos and
http://foursquare.com/sonos.

· All 2011 CES Badge holders who flash their badge at the Livio Radio booth
receive a CES survival item. Follow them @Livioradio and
http://foursquare.com/livioradio.

· Show your badge at the Sharp booth for the opportunity to enter their daily
giveaway. Each day of CES, one lucky badge holder will win either a Sharp
soundbar, Blu-ray player, iPod docking station or 32" AQUOS LCD TV. One badge
holder will win their grand prize, a 52" AQUOS Quattron LCD TV. Follow them
@Sharp_USA.
· The first 200 people to show their 2011 CES Badge at the SanDisk booth will
receive a SanDisk slotRadio Card. Follow them @Sandisk.

· Check into the Intel booth and complete a challenge for a chance to win a new
Intel Core laptop. Follow Intel on http://foursquare.com/intel and @Intel. Snap a photo of your favorite part of the Intel booth and post to Twitter and Foursquare using the hashtags #CES and #VisualLife.

Some potential downsides to running around to spots or venues, checking in on
FourSquare and using micro blogging sites like Twitter are present at this
year's CES, but are beginning to disappear. People come together once a year in
Las Vegas to make deals and talk to live people. These are the same people that
you may have been dealing with by phone or email for the past year. In this
recovering economy, selling and dealing face to face could make or break your
brand's entire year with a supplier or distributor. There's almost no way in
communicating emotions in 140 characters or by checking into a venue. Tony
Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos has said that the telephone is still the most important
social media tool he uses.

Remember, what happens in Las Vegas gets a check in on FourSquare, Tweeted,
posted and commented on in Facebook Places, posted to Instagram to see the
action, reviewed on Yelp and all of it indexed on Google. The Huffington Post is
on FourSquare, follow them at http://foursquare.com/huffingtonpost. Oh yeah,
some of the folks at CES will blog about it, on the Huffington Post. :)