Wednesday, August 22, 2012

FOURSQUARE – it's like MARMITE. But why?

Incase you have been asleep or not paying attention for the last 3 years, Foursquare happens to be a social network and a game. You share your location with other community members [or by Facebook & Twitter] by checking yourself into various locations - any where in the world. These sites have been created by other helpful members using their mobile devices. These include shops, forests, carparks, and streets… just about anything really. It doesn’t even need to be a site which is permenantly situated in a single location! #movingtarget

So that’s great, but why do it?

Actually the membership has now crept to over 20 million and since 2009, 25 billion check-ins have been counted. So there are a great many people already out there who love Foursquare. So it is fair to assume that there is something about it. 

Foursquare helps it’s users to explore the land and city-scape around them for interesting places to visit, and take advantage of hints and tips which other users have left behind. These tips can be negative as well as rocking testimonials for someones business or magnificent service.

A rather excellent feature of Foursquare is also that members checking-in to certain establishments can be gifted with promotional deals which have been setup by the site owners themselves. These deals generally mean that you get free stuff or money off stuff. So look out for those ‘specials’.

Another Foursquare experience is the collection of badges as you pass certain checking-in criteria, such as the photogenic badge – when you have checked-in to a mall 3 times, which has a photo-booth in it. Foursquare has also created a system which rewards the members who check-in sites the most with the title of ‘mayor’. This title is passed on to the person with the highest amount of check-ins on a particular location. Some check-ins are whole cities! Yes you can be the mayor of London.

This process of gaining titles can be quite invigorating…

The Foursquare ‘game’ is addictive and very clever. Quite often the app will warn a user that they are a single day away from becoming the mayor. This in itself becomes a good reason to pop into that pub just one more time… the next day. Kudos is just one check-in away [nail biting stuff].

One of the promotional tools given to site owners is that they can offer the ‘mayor’ of their shop or establishment even bigger deals as a result! This however can also lead to turf wars where a few members go to war over their home ground, or for a special deal which is being promoted.
This actually can be quite fun, engaging in a digital turf war. I have fought heavily over the exclusive title of ‘mayor’ in a park which I walk through most days. When my mayordom was challenged, it took me 4 weeks of check-ins, double check-ins and swearing before my challenger gave up. 2 weeks in, I thought that I was up against a hermit living in the forest. Turns out, it was a kid who was bored on holiday.

There are many reasons which have been expressed by my friends or passing strangers, who don’t use Foursquare or have used it for a while before becoming bored, and not bothering any more. Here are just a few of them;

1. Plain forgot. After a few weeks of check-ins, I have noticed that many users simply forget to check-in, or it’s too much trouble. And if you don’t interact with the platform, check-in, comment and like stuff…. Then interest quickly dies. Fast becoming a dusty unused app on your mobile phone – delete. 

2. Some like the power of being able track others activities rather than getting involved in the whole process of checking-in themselves. They have their own reasons for doing this... But that’s a bit creepy right? You don’t want to be one of them do you?

3. Another reason is that some users only  ever check-in periodically. Week enders, or fair weather checker-inners. There is nothing wrong with this, but if you don’t atleast try to explore and share your experiences on a regualr basis, then the engrossing and sharing ethos may well be lost on you.

4. Probably the most serious reason for not joining the Foursquare army was that of privacy. Some people just don’t want to be tracked everywhere they go. I guess that I have nothing to hide, so it has never been a problem – but I have been ‘unreliably’ informed that some sneaky nations use social media geo-tagging as a way to locate spies and other possible threats to national security. #eyerolling

There will always be reasons for not sharing your location to the world around you, and some of them really good reasons too. 

The astute amongst you may have spotted a fatal flaw to the Foursquare platform and game – which is, surely you can check-in anywhere at anytime from any place?

Well yes you can, but you will not pick up the rewards, points or titles by doing so. Foursquare is a geo-tagging engine and therefore you have to be relatively close to the location to enable all the features.

To round up, I am happy to announce that I am a fan of the network and manage to use it to market my business too. Using the check-in feature, I share with my twitter and facebook followers the local areas in which I am working and providing a service to clients.

Since Foursquare shares incredibly easily with those 2 social networking giants, it is only a matter of time before many more businesses use this tool to market their business.

I hope that you enjoyed my blog-post on Foursquare, tomorrow I will be back promoting a local business for providing a great product or fantastic customer service on #30days30testimonials. So please retweet my tweets when you can, and further share the love.

I’ll give the last word in this post over to rather famous leader of the 20th century. Enjoy.

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