Foursquare haters who love history should beware. The History Channel's campaign for the upcoming nonfiction miniseries, "America The Story of Us," could cause such naysayers - those who dismiss the location-based mobile app as a fad - to consider actually giving it a shot.
And here's why. The New York-based cable network is providing Foursquare users with historical tidbits about the locations where they "check-in" around the country. According to a History Channel spokesperson, people who check-in at one of 1,000 landmarks in 19 cities will be served a historical tip about where they are.
As an example, the spokesperson said app users visiting the Victory Gardens Biograph Theater in Chicago will discover that infamous bank robber John Dillinger was shot to death there by federal agents when leaving a movie in 1934. Or, users who check-in to St. Paul's Chapel in downtown New York City will learn that George Washington worshipped there on his Inauguration Day in 1789.
"It's not like a restaurant check-in," said the spokesperson. "It's almost subliminally for history geeks.... It's stuff you could find on Wikipedia, but it's coming right to your mobile phone instead."
Users may also earn a History Channel-branded virtual "badge," which Foursquare players covet while accruing "check-ins" - the location-based game's key metric. It records how many times people use the app on their smartphones to show they've arrived at a physical location. The location can be a retail store, nightclub, restaurant, barbershop, university library, etc. Other titles, such as "mayor," are awarded to players who visit establishments more than anyone else.
The History Channel has set up a dedicated page at Foursquare.com/historychannel to promote the miniseries. In less than a week, according to the spokesperson, more than 1,300 people - of Foursquare's 700,000-plus users - have become "friends" on the brand page. A sweepstakes is being advertised on the page that will give away an "Americana gift bag" each week, the spokesperson said, which will include a portable cooler and barbeque/picnic items.
"America The Story of Us" will also be promoted on The History Channel and parent company AETN's various Facebook and Twitter pages. Timely posts via those two channels will be employed for the 12-hour miniseries running from April 25 to May 31.
For Facebook in particular, a dedicated page for the show has recently been established while picking up around 300 fans. Paid Facebook ads for the miniseries are already running, the spokesperson said.
In addition, The History Channel's newsletter will be used to help drive the social media campaign."We'll definitely be getting a push behind it," the spokesperson said. "We are already getting great feedback about Foursquare, where people are saying, 'This is so cool. I am not even into Foursquare. I don't want to check into a restaurant to let everyone know where I am eating...But this idea will get me to go on Foursquare.'"
Meanwhile, The History Channel is in the process of rebranding itself as simply "History". The effort can be seen throughout the miniseries campaign.
You can follow Christopher Heine on Twitter at @ChrisClickZ.
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Christopher Heine was a senior writer for ClickZ through June 2012. He covered social media, sports/entertainment marketing, retail, and more. Heine's work has also appeared via Mashable, Brandweek, DM News, MarketingSherpa, and other tech- and ad-centric publications. USA Today, Bloomberg Radio, and The Los Angeles Times have cited him as an expert journalist.
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