Facebook? Twitter? Instagram? TEDxThessaloniki in Greece uses them all. But where the event really shines is on Foursquare, says team member Dimitris Tzouris, as it has allowed TEDxThessaloniki to create a customized guide to their city — inspired by the ideas shared at their event.
Through years of producing TEDxThessaloniki, team members have gained valuable insight into their city, whether that’s in travel tips, cultural insights or architectural history, says Tzouris. “Location-based apps help us scatter these ideas around the globe and connect the dots,” he added. “Foursquare has quite a large user base in Greece, so we [use] that.”
“Just like a message in a bottle, our tips are being discovered by people who check into these places using their smartphone,” he said. “Before an event takes place, we leave tips that promote the event and engage the local community. Apart from the main event venue, we also leave tips at the Thessaloniki airport and central train and bus stations. These tips provide a link to our website. After the event, we add tips to venues all over the world, based on our speakers’ [work] or the topic of their talk. These tips provide direct links to their talks, a blog post or both. All links are shortened, using our tedxth.es domain, so we can monitor the activity.”
Three ways TEDxThessaloniki has used Foursquare (as told by Tzouris):
1. A tip about cookies: “In 2012, environmental activist and entrepreneur Marcie Mayer talked about the Hamada Acorn Initiative, a project that helped restore acorn as an important product for the local economy of the island of Kea. [Kea's] acorn cookies have become known worldwide (especially after a successful crowdfunding campaign back in 2012). Since the island of Kea is very popular with tourists both from Greece and abroad (it’s close to Athens), we added a tip on Foursquare to the Red Tractor Farm (where the cookies are made, but provides lodging as well) in order to spread Marcie’s story and show that local entrepreneurship is still possible in Greece. It’s a great story.
2. An architecture backstory: In 2014, one of our speakers was Prodromos Nikiforidis, the architect who designed the new Thessaloniki seafront. Thousands or people walk it every day and through our tip, they can find out who the architect is and watch his talk about the very place they are either visiting as travelers or using on a daily basis as locals. It’s enhancing their experience by providing background information, helping them relate to the location and engage with their city, therefore becoming more aware of potential issues as well.”
3. A tip abroad: “The most recent TEDxThessaloniki talk featured on TED.com is Melissa Fleming’s talk about the story of two refugees. Melissa Fleming is the Head of Communications at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Now, anyone who checks into the UNHCR offices can follow the link and watch this really powerful talk. It’s a video reminder of how important the UNHCR’s work is when it comes to saving and improving people’s lives.”
Other TEDxThessaloniki Foursquare tips include a breathtaking photo of a city landmark taken by a photographer speaker, a link to a talk by a documentarian at the cinema that showed her film, among many, many other things. Check out their Foursquare page to see all their tips.