Archive for August 9th, 2010

Foursquare for squares?

Monday, August 9th, 2010

So do you guys want to talk about Foursquare? I do. Now that all the concern about stalkers, house-robbers, etc has worn off, I have some comments. I have only a couple friends on Foursquare who actually use it regularly and I don’t hang out with them that much. So, I find myself, when I remember checking in when I’m out with my non-Foursquare friends (the large majority of the time) sort of hiding it. I’m embarrassed. Inevitably I’m asked “What are you doing? What’s Foursquare?” and I have to explain it to them. And they are confused and not really impressed. “What’s the point of that? It sounds dumb.” I can defend the silly thing, but not with much conviction.

Foursquare is an app you install on a smart phone that uses geotracking to allow you to “check-in” to whatever real location you are at and it lets your other foursquare friends know as well as keeping you informed of where your friends go. You can post “tips” in certain locations for others to read if they check into the same place. If you check into a location more than anyone else you can become the mayor of that place. You can also earn assorted badges for playing. For example, checking in 4 nights in a row can get you a “Bender” badge. It’s a little like location-based twitter with a bit of a game element.

What does any of this actually mean for brands and making the big bucks? I don’t know, not a whole lot to be honest. A few companies like Starbucks have had Foursquare build in coupons into the application. Starbucks offers the mayor of their specific location a dollar off their already over-priced fruity ice drinks I think at the moment. Some companies like Bravo, VH1, Zagat, New York Times have started their own Foursquare account to advertise events or their brand. A while ago, there was an article in the New York Times about Foursquare and that it’s now worth a ton of money, but it’s still a bit murky as to how this application can be harvested for real value. I haven’t done very much research, but it seems like Foursquare is not mainstream and is only being used by the geekiest geeks who want to go through the trouble of checking in. Correct me if I’m wrong.

There is a part of me that enjoys Foursquare because I like the idea of tracking where I’m going or the repetitive activity of checking in places and collecting them, or badges, or mayorships and around my town too. There’s a kind of thrill in seeing that we all go to the same places (tech enabling human connection?) and the city is actually so small. Because very few of my friends are into Foursquare, and most of my friends are types who would never be, it’s not all that social for me. In fact, I kind of wish it wasn’t attached to other people so I didn’t have to bother them with my updates or remind them that I exist, defeating perhaps the entire purpose of this SOCIAL network. I think of quitting it often, but then consider that it is a way to keep in touch with people that I like and don’t see often, it is kinda fun in some ways, and I like to participate in this stuff and see what it’s like and how people use it, even if I’m not the ideal user. Also, you never know, maybe it will really catch on and then I’ll be ahead of the game. I doubt it though, most people just can’t keep up being so intensely into themselves all the time. Just me; the amount that I’m into myself knows no bounds!