Television, film, and music may be a perfect fit for social media, but that doesn't mean social media companies naturally speak the language of Hollywood.
So in an effort to work its way into the entertainment world, location-based service Foursquare has turned to one of Hollywood's most prominent talent agencies, United Talent Agency (UTA).
As reported by Variety, Foursquare, which launched in 2009 and claims some 20m registered users, hopes that UTA's relationships can help it establish new partnerships in the entertainment and related industries.
"We're excited to work with UTA to introduce the entertainment, music and media industry to the benefits of using foursquare to connect with our community of over 20 million people worldwide," Foursquare's director of media partnerships, Jonathan Crowley, told Variety.
On paper it sort of makes sense. Services like Facebook and Twitter are very popular in the television, film and music industries, and brands that actively build campaigns around prominent television, film and music personalities and properties often use Facebook and Twitter to promote those campaigns. Foursquare clearly sees the potential for its service in these spaces, but it doesn't yet have the profile of a Facebook or Twitter.
But this begs the question: why does a well-known startup like Foursquare need to pay a Hollywood talent agency to open doors?
It's not as if Foursquare hasn't partied in Hollywood before. As Variety notes, the company has executed partnerships with names like Warner Bros., Bravo, VH1 and MTV. Numerous celebrities have signed up for the service as well, some as part of deals, and others 'organically.' As such, it's not as if Foursquare is a virtual unknown in Hollywood.
What's more: what Variety says UTA will be selling for Foursquare ("a record label, concert venue and musical act could all coordinate with Foursquare in a way that can drive value-adds to fans including marketing and merchandising opportunities") is precisely the type of marketing campaign that Foursquare has been pitching for some time. Is Foursquare increasingly finding it difficult to sell these types of deals? If analysis of some campaigns is any indication, the answer might be yes.
Which raises an important point for Foursquare and companies like it: social is still growing by leaps and bounds, but that doesn't mean the investments made in social will be spread around more widely. If anything, there's good reason to believe that the largest players (eg. Facebook and Twitter) will grow their pieces of the pie. After all, record labels, concerts venues and musical acts don't need Foursquare and companies like it to run social campaigns -- they get far more reach and functionality through Facebook and Twitter. Not Facebook and Twitter? Increasingly, you'll have to offer more than the same tired social media campaigns, including those revolving around giveaways, coupons and contests.
So where does this leave Foursquare?
At the end of the day, outsourcing business development to a Hollywood talent agency isn't going to dramatically change Foursquare's propsects, and such a move is a red flag that other young companies duking it out in fast-growing but highly-competitive markets should take note of: when you can no longer close deals on your own, you may have too much cash and not enough to sell.