Location, Location, Location: Foursquare

by Katie Essner on April 16, 2010

By Katie Essner

This is a two-part blog exploring the pros and cons of Foursquare.

So you’ve been there, done that with Facebook.  Heard it all before on Twitter.  Now you’re ready for the next best social media site, and it already knows where to find you.

Location-based social media sites allow users to virtually check in at a location, and are taking consumer relationships to a whole new level. While there are several major contenders, the location site that stands out the most is Foursquare.  For the past week, Jason and I have used Foursquare.  I became quite fond of the site and see it as refreshing compared to typical social media.  Any application that rewards me for merely going places is right up my alley.

What do I find so appealing about Foursquare? It’s fun and it’s simple.  Users can login via the Internet or smart phone application and can check in at parks, bars, museums, restaurants or wherever they are at.  Each visit earns points and repeated visits earn badges and eventually the title of “mayor.”  “Mayor” is the title given to the user who visits a location the most. Scores are tabulated on a leader board so users can see how they rank against their friends. But in fairness to the game, all scores are reset each Sunday so even the newbies get their chance at “mayor.”

Users also have the option of linking Foursquare with Twitter and Facebook to share locations with friends and followers. If they’d rather have their whereabouts be private, users can make their location public only on the Foursquare site or private, referred to as “off the grid.”

At each check in, the user is allowed to write a tip for future visitors.  They can write anything from what latte to order to the location of the best table in the house.

When businesses offer an incentive for users, Foursquare will let people nearby know.

Foursquare isn’t just for consumers and the recreational user – businesses are invited to get in on the game. The site has a list of businesses offering incentives to those who check in or become “mayor.” Foursquare presents businesses with new ways to reach consumers and draw in new or current customers.

Those who use Foursquare have become social media brand evangelists. There’s no tangible incentive to checking in and earning points ­– it all boils down to a love of the game and the brands that make up everyday life. While Foursquare did hold a charity drive in December 2009 where each point earned was donated to charity, they’re still experimenting with ways to turn the point system into real-world rewards.

While the big social media players and contenders will continue to hold strong, it is important to see what else is emerging.  Exploring new social media sites can be beneficial and exciting, but only use them if they fit the businesses’ needs.  Always remember not to spread your business too thin over multiple social media sites: find what works for you and don’t overwhelm yourself or consumers. Foursquare won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but it gives consumers a new and different way to interact with the community and businesses around them.

Stay tuned for our next blog where Jason will tell his side of the Foursquare experience.