Ok, I admit it: I’m one of “those people” who use foursquare. In case you are not clued-in to the whole ‘checking in’ thing, foursquare is a location-based social network that leverages the power and popularity of GPS enabled portable devices. Or to put it another way, it’s an app on your phone that you can use to tell people where you are. Pictured right, you can see some of my favorite types of places to check in (which reminds me, I really should check in at the gym more). With this said, it is likely that you’re now asking yourself, “why?” or “who cares where you go?”. This reasonable question was posed to me while drinking at Tom & Jerry’s the other night, when I and a few of my co-workers checked into the venue as we came through the door.
I’ll tell you what I told them (as best as I can remember it). The first reason is ‘specials and tips’. I’ve always been a fan of the house special, and I trust professionals to know what sets their establishment apart from the rest. I like to let them showcase it. Checking in on foursquare not only tips you off to specials offered by this location, but also other promotions nearby. Often there are premium specials offered for those who check in or for the ‘mayor’ of the venue (the person who has checked in most frequently this month). In addition, I get tips from my friends even when they’re not there with me. For example, I was waiting at Big Bar on 7th street to meet a friend, and as I checked in I saw a tip from my friend Eric that I should avoid the tap beer there and stick to bottles. Thanks, Eric!
The second reason I use foursquare is because it integrates really well with my other social sites. Whenever I check in, foursquare sends out a tweet—and then twitter updates my facebook. This way, friends from all my networks can get an idea of what I’m up to. This is great for businesses, especially because it highlights that these are real people and not just a faceless company. The idea that people working at your company are out and doing things is more humanizing and engaging than some other, older forms of marketing.
The third reason that I like foursquare is it’s a great way to meet up with friends. I’ll give you an example: at Druids in Hell’s Kitchen, I met a friend who pitched me a new web series. I checked in, and as I walked through the door my friend Charles texted me and asked what I was doing at Druids. I responded, and it turned out that he was just around the corner. We went, met up with his group, and had a great time.
If I could ask for anything more from foursquare, it would be more gameplay features. I like it, but I wish that there were more activities at which I could compete with my friends. For example, I think that it might be fun to have sponsored foursquare-based scavenger hunts, or the ability to build custom scavenger hunts and/or capture the flag-type games and invite your friends. Think about it: a competitive bar crawl where the first one to drink in all 12 locations is the winner!
So what do you think – is foursquare a good idea? Is it worth it to stalk yourself in reverse? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.