What’s Foursquare For?

Foursquare (logo)

Depending which day of the week you catch me on, I take a different view of location check-in services. I’m generally disdainful of Facebook check-ins, because I don’t want to tell everyone where I am all of the time. But, for some reason, I will happily check in on Foursquare. Perhaps it’s the fun of winding my friend up when he discovers I’m the mayor in another of his favourite locations… or perhaps it’s some contrary tendency on my part (most likely).

After a while, though, I do start to ask “why am I doing this again?”. Scott Monty, head of Social Media for Ford Motor Company (US) recently posted something on his blog that kind of kickstarted my thinking a little. Head on over and have a read or, if you don’t want to right now, check out this video:

So, the point of Foursquare isn’t just to check in and claim mayorships of venues (although that’s part of the game), it’s also about discovering new locations, creating recommendations for friends, meeting up with them, and earning rewards. Starts to sound a little more interesting now, doesn’t it?

The question I’ve got is, does Foursquare work when you don’t have many local friends on it, or your local businesses are not offering deals? The only function remaining, then, is to discover new venues based on what the general public have been checking in to and, I guess, that works. I’ve found new locations around town based on them showing up in the “Nearby Places” list, and have made decisions on whether to go there based on random people’s tips. It’s obviously a reduced experience, but it still works.

But, still, the biggest thing for me is that lovely moment when my friend turns to me and says, “no way… you’re the mayor here too!?”

What do you think of Foursquare, or of check-in services in general? Do they work for helping people find new venues, and helping businesses find new customers? Do they require critical mass of people and places to work well? Or is the whole thing a bit creepy? Let us know your thoughts in the comments. 

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  1. I’m a lover of most things social media, but I don’t get these check in services to be honest. I’m not sure I want to know where people are exactly, or that they frequent their local McDonalds more than anyone else, and generally I don’t want people to know exactly where I am either. The idea that I can see where’s a good place for coffee in any given town might be useful, I guess I’d just have to sign up and try it.

    • I rarely pay attention to where other people are when I use Foursquare – and I am choosy about who I add to my friends list as I wouldn’t want to broadcast my location to all and sundry. The main thing I use it for is looking for deals (and there aren’t many around here) and finding out if there’s a local Starbucks :)

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