Foursquare is a location-based mobile application that allows members to “check in” using a smartphone app or SMS. Foursquare is designed to make “the world easier to use”. You can share your check-ins with your friends, earn “badges” and even become the “mayor” of locations as well as earn points. Foursquare is in its totality, a game.
Foursquare is currently available in eleven languages and is classified as a social networking application or platform. You only need to download the Foursquare app, open it and Foursquare will recommend businesses you will probably like based on what you and your friends like. You can also use Foursquare to see what your friends are up to. If they wish, they can share photos with you and you can comment on those photos if you wish. You also can tell your friends where you are so that you can ask them to come and spend time with you.
Many businesses using Foursquare offer specials, discounts and freebies just for checking in. You can easily keep up with friends, discover what is nearby you and unlock deals for free using Foursquare. As of January 2012, 15 million people the world over are members of the Foursquare community. Since its launch in early 2009, there have been over 1.5 billion check-ins with millions more each day. There are over 750,000 businesses currently using the Foursquare Merchant Platform.
Developers are Welcome at Foursquare
A unique feature of Foursquare is the fact that it has an application programming interface (API) like Twitter has. This allows developers the ability to build their ideas on the Foursquare platform. Many developers have used the API to create new check-in functions, fun games and interesting data visualizations. There are now hundreds of apps to choose from ranging from an application which will send you a recipe every time you check into a grocery store to an app that locates nearby Wi-Fi venues.
How Foursquare works
To illustrate how Foursquare works, we will use a fictitious Foursquare member we’ll call Adam. When Adam visits his favorite coffee shop, he can open the Foursquare mobile application on his phone and check-in. When he does this, his location is announced to his friends on Foursquare – much in the same way a Facebook status update works. Adam is also able to, in real-time, find out where his friends have checked in at. In other words, he can use Foursquare as a tool to help him find and meet up with his pals. These check-ins can be shared on Twitter and Facebook to greatly expand Adam and his friends’ audience.
The coffee shop Adam frequents offers deals to Foursquare users to get them to check-in. This means that when Adam got a dollar off his cup of java because he checked in at the coffee shop, all of his friends could see that. This may prompt a few of Adam’s nearby friends to come and join him for a discounted cup of coffee which benefits the friend and the coffee shop as it is gaining a new customer. Can you see how this can continue on, as each ‘friend of a friend’ on Foursquare will see where others are and may be tempted to join them?
Foursquare can be a powerful tool for a business to use as you can see by the example given above. Businesses near the coffee shop can steal customer traffic and money from other businesses by offering a deal that is visible when customers are checking in nearby. For example, Adam might have been on his way to another cafe when he learned that the coffee shop he ended up at was offering him a discount.
Leaving Tips for Other Foursquare Users
One of Foursquare’s best features is the ability to leave tips on a business or venue. You can leave a tip about a favorite meal you had at a restaurant, a tip about where the cleanest restrooms are in a park or where to find the best beer in an airport. Not only can you leave tips, but you can read tips left by others like for instance “avoid the BLT sandwich because it doesn’t have much bacon” or “don’t forget to check out the new boots in aisle 7 with the buckles”. When your friends have left a tip on a venue you are checking into or on one nearby, you will see a pop-up on your phone letting you know what they have to say.
Other uses can see the tips you have left about a venue on the Foursquare website, on the venue info screen on their phones or by searching for nearby tips in the mobile app. Your friends will receive a “Since you’re here…” pop-up notification when they check into a place where you have left a tip or when they check-in at a nearby venue.
Remember that essentially, Foursquare is a social media game which allows you to compete with your friends when checking into to various locations. You earn badges by checking into venues. Earning badges proves that you are more social than your friends. There are a few introductory badges which are earned as milestones in usage. Foursquare keeps badge unlock rules intentionally vague so that it is more fun when one is unlocked. However, you should know that a “Newbie” badge is awarded for your very first check-in at a venue, a “9 to 5” badge is earned for checking in to the same venue for fifteen days out of the last thirty, and an “Adventurer” badge is awarded when you check-in to ten different venues, and on and on. Unlocking Foursquare badges has become a hobby and even an obsession for many active Foursquare users.
Become the Mayor
You can become the “mayor” of a venue by being the person who has checked in the most times at a over the past two months. Others will see that you are the mayor as you will be recognized on the venue’s Foursquare profile page. And here is the best part about being the major of a venue: some businesses like Starbucks for example, reward their ‘mayors’ with discounts and freebies! So, should you use Foursquare? That is up to you of course but if you tend to get out and about a lot and like to keep in close touch with your friends, then yes, you should considering joining. Plus, as mentioned above, there are many benefits associated with being a member of Foursquare as you can get discounts, free offers and some incredibly useful tips from other Foursquare users.