Sunday, September 26, 2010

I am Foursquared out....

<----(photo documenting horrible Foursquare dedication and usage)

The key to quality advertising is involving the consumer and providing them with some sort of payoff, while also helping businesses make a profit. Many people believe the new social networking application, Foursquare, is the answer.

Foursquare is a location-based socially networking website and mobile platform that allows users to “check-in” to various locations and events. The intended incentive to checking in, at this point, is the ability to gain various “badges” and points for accomplishing certain undisclosed foursquare tasks. If a user "checks in" to a place more than anyone else, they can become "mayor" of the location. Users can also follow friends to see where they are, where they have been, and what they think about the certain places they have traveled. (for more information, read Leia’s post below J )

But will foursquare last? That is the question on the minds of tech-savvy social networkers. Foursquare is essentially in the same place Twitter was about 3 years ago: there are around 2 million users, only a select few have even heard of the application, however many believe it could be a major game changer. Tech Crunch states, “The early adopters have started to drink the kool-aide, but for the most part it remains a service completely misunderstood, and even mocked from time to time.” The important piece of the puzzle determining Foursquare’s lasting power has to do with a user generated function: rewards. Company’s have begun to grant rewards to the mayor’s of their establishments, such as drink specials or performance discounts at select venues. Others have decided to disregard mayorship altogether and allow any Foursquare users who check in to get discounts. With this system, everyone is happy. Not only does the reward system draw users to the respective venues, but it also attracts more users to join the social platform because of potential discounts. It is essentially the ideal form of advertising: good for the consumer and the business.

How Foursquare capitalizes on the reward system will be the determining factor of the social networks existence. In the next edition, or upgrade, of Foursquare, the application plans to alert users if there is a special offer or discount near your check-in with some sort of banner, says co-founder Dennis Crowley. The user will then be able to tap the banner to learn more about the promo info. In order to get the discount, the user will then pull up a “special screen” to show the bartender or waitress.

In theory Foursquare rewards are genius, however I have little faith in the popularity of Foursquare catching on. The majority of my friends and family view me as a crazy social networking master for the sole reason that I am an active Twitter user. When I tell them I Foursquare they look at me with a confused look and ask “Huh?” And…to be honest, I have found little value in using using the application for the past few months. I have yet to find a quality payoff for “checking in” that is something other than the status provided by mayorships and badges. I think the location based application will be latched on to an already established network like Facebook and Twitter before it takes off as its only platform.


  1. I agree with Michael on everything except for his last comment about Foursquare needing to be latched onto an established network like Facebook or Twitter before it really takes off.

    One of the benefits of Foursquare is that you are creating a network completely from scratch - you have the opportunity to choose who to connect with on FourSquare and who not to. By extension, you are controlling who can see your check-ins/locations and who cannot. I have a FourSquare account and will check in from time to time (especially if it means discounts at some of my favorite places), but would not check in if it meant that everyone on my Facebook would see it. Every single one of my Facebook friends (or Twitter followers) do not need to know that I just purchased a drink from Starbucks or that I am buying a shirt at the Gap. But, by having FourSquare be a separate network I can experience the benefits of "checking in" without having to annoy my followers and sacrifice my privacy. Those that do want their Foursquare to be linked to their Facebook and Twitter accounts have the option to do so within FourSquare's settings.

  2. I think you are right, Sammy.

    While I don't think of myself as an active Foursquare user, my biggest use of Foursquare comes from my nights out at the bars honestly. It allows me to see where my friends are and catch up with them if I feel the need. However, I like it as a separate social network than Facebook or Twitter because I wouldn't want my family/relatives or people I am not that close with to know every stop on my bar crawl.

  3. I both agree and disagree. I think having a attachment to facebook or some other more popular social network allows a new social network to gain popularity. However, while I've seen the "check-ins" on facebook, I never even knew what they meant until reading this post. I think the idea of Foursquare is one that people are less apt to try. I know I personally researched it last semester when I was working on a social media team and I found the concept a little creepy. However, I didn't truly understand the benefits and had no idea of discounts, which may have made my experience with it more beneficial.

  4. While I'm not entirely familiar with all of the benefits of Foursquare, I see it as a useful tool in a business aspect. The way I see it, it is essentially free publicity for businesses.

    I recently came across this article about a promotion McDonald's ran using Foursquare. In one single day in April, they offered free food for those who "checked in" on Foursquare. McDonald's allotted a mere $1,000 for this campaign and the results were amazing. In this one day McDonald's increased foot traffic into the store by 33%! Furthermore, they increased their fan base on social networks by 600,000 people.

    While I don't know if Foursquare will be in it for the long haul, I see social networks as a very powerful tool for advertisers/marketers/public relations.

  5. I'm just curious when the advantages of being a "mayor" will eventually take off. I know only a few places (Brats, Starbucks) in Madison offer these rewards. I think if more places offered these rewards, I'd probably do more on foursquare than become the mayor of my apartment just so I can brag to my roommates and try to use this "fake power" in making house decisions.


  6. List of local foursquare venues that give prizes to mayors: