Foursquare Will Always Be Square With You

Launched in 2009 as both a location-based game and social networking site, Foursquare has found its place in many of its consumers’ hearts and mobile devices.

The simple action of “checking in” at a specific location runs beyond the innate human desire to broadcast personal movements on the Internet when the proposed incentives come into the picture. We recognise the platform to be an opportunity for brands to jump on board the bandwagon while it’s still churning with future plans, and utilise the tool to connect with audience on the go.

A Little History About Foursquare

The concept was first founded by Dennis Crowley and Naveen Selvadurai, and based in New York, USA. The primary mission was for mobile devices to actively interact with the environment. The application has since then gone through major design changes and adapted to a variety of languages, namely English, German, French, Indonesian, Italian, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Thai, Japanese, and Turkish. To date, it has about 45 million users, and one of the largest and most extensive user databases of user generated geolocation in the world.

How Everything Works

Following a quirky game format, users can check into a place using Foursquare and earn a variety of badges and/or points.

Badges stand for various user statues within the community, and accumulating consistent “check in”s in venues will deem the respective user to be the “Mayor” of the venue. Points can position users among their peers on leaderboards. Users are encouraged to be as specific as possible when it comes to locking in their venues, and after validation from the company itself, the fun begins.

Mayorship titles are earned within a 60-day period, and can earn users special incentives from the places themselves. Places that are swamped often find competitive bids for mayorship, and dedicated users will log in their visits according to the standards set by Foursquare (time, distance etc). The reason for this dedication is the perks that wait for them. For instance, restaurants have been known to present mayors with complimentary drinks/desserts, and stores are following suit with special discounts and vouchers.

Other features include tips left by users, usually one sentence summarising the place to guide the next batch of crowd, an integrated buddy chat system, and the option to create a “To Do” list so that users can document where they want to go next to see/eat/do.

At the root of it all, it is as simple as going to your favourite café and hitting the Foursquare check-in button. Not only will your friends know where to find you next, you also get to be in the running for mayorship while unlocking random badges!

The Proposed Future of Foursquare

Foursquare will be looking into removing their iconic “check in” button to allow seamless checking in. Future versions will see automatic checking in and updates identifying your current location.

“The goal of the company was not to make an awesome check-in button. The goal of the company was, like, let’s make this social, crowdsourced map of the world and let’s use that to tell every single person in this room and everyone single person in the world, about all the interesting things they would find around them that they would otherwise normally miss,” said Crowley.

Some Pros & Cons

Foursquare still proves itself to be a strong presence within mobile applications after six years because of its integrated experience. Users connect with each other strongly because of the visible ties (Foursquare shows the actions of affiliated contacts, making the tips very relatable), and it allows for smart advertising across platforms. “Check In”s are broadcasted on Facebook and Twitter frequently, and it can also act as a helpful way for friends to find new places because of its powerful discrete controls, specifically filtering content to your personal liking.

On the other side of the coin, it has been termed as “geeky” because of its gaming system and the content do not come in organic searches regularly. Tips are also limited, making the credibility of the content less solid. Venue placements are often unpredictable as the content is often based on trends and human popularity.

The Battle With Facebook “Check In”s

Photo Credits: Diginate

Photo Credits: Diginate

Facebook‘s integrated “Check In” function, also less known as Facebook Places,  imitates Foursquare’s structure very closely, and we have noticed a slighter higher usage of Facebook’s function over Foursquare in some countries. Other than the fact that it is seamlessly woven into the usual Facebook action of documenting your days out or tagging a friend somewhere, it is also presented as an automatic command, listing wherever you are when you post a Facebook status.

However, most of the “Check in” listings are limited to Facebook pages. In terms of effective content, Foursquare is still leading by a strong circle of community users and intricate database. Foursquare accentuates checking-in with personal reviews, badges/awards, the endless perks of holding mayorship, and prompt responses to all the action going on around the locations. You can follow a food magazine around to all the restaurants closely just because you know that they will be checking in with a single sentence. Foursquare tells people where you are and what you are doing in a simple, effective way.

What It Can Do For You

If you are a company looking to reach the younger social crowd, then Foursquare might be a good platform to invest your time in. Other than its accessible reach towards crowds and location data, it also sets the standard for spotting out highlighted places with the “cool” punch. In short, it can get the attention of people faster than other tools as it promotes a relatable peer-to-peer movement, allowing content to hit closer to home.

Companies can make use of this alternative form of advertising to reach out to their audience. Incorporating rewards for actions can be a start to push the crowd to raise the popularity of the venue. If you gave a cup of coffee away for every “check in” that appears on three or more different social networking platforms, you know you are in good (digital) hands.