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It’s Hip to Foursquare

February 17, 2010

My experiments in social networking have taken a dangerous turn into the world of Foursquare.  I blame my friend Roman -we were having lunch recently and he announced right before we ordered that he needed to “check in”.  I had seen Foursquare posts come up in my Twitter and Facebook streams before, so I knew what it was, but I wasn’t a user.

“I find it kind of creepy,”  I said.  “Everyone knowing just where you are and all.”

“Funny,” he said, “women tend to feel that way and men love it.”

Roman’s an adventurous guy, so I figured it was worth a try.  I signed up for an account and started using it.   It’s not really all that complicated.  In Foursquare, when you go to a new place, you “sign in”.  Sign ins at different places unlock “badges”, which although worthless can be fun.  When you sign into a place more than anyone else, you can become a “mayor.”   You can add friends from your gmail, Facebook and Twitter, and follow where others are going and what they are doing.

Right away I figured out a few things…

1. No one on Facebook and Twitter gives a damn where I am.  In social media, you need to tune your message to the medium…just like people say you shouldn’t update Facebook with your Twitter stream (which I am guilty of) because they are very different audiences looking for very different things.  In Foursquare, people are there because they want to tell you where they are, why they are there, see where others are.  That’s not the same as the Facebook or Twitter crowd at all. 

2. There are friends out there who have very very active social lives.  Nuff said.  What happens on Foursquare stays there.  As a friend said, the purpose of Foursquare is not to show that you are home.  Which, apparently, I am.  A lot.

3. In regards to #2, I am way more boring that I realized.  I’m not the mayor of a cool local bar.  I’m the mayor of my son’s preschool, the local gym, the place where my daughter plays indoor soccer, and the library.  I’m vying for mayor of Wiley Publishing, but that’s not really something I should be trying to achieve.  Foursquare is trying to help you be cool, but it’s really emphasizing how not cool I am.

4. In regards to #3, when I checked in a the gym one morning before a 6am spin class, I got a “out late on a school night” badge.  Foursquare thought I was a cool kid who was out late, not a dorky mom who was getting to the gym in time to snag bike #13 before that shrew in the baseball hat does.  Silly Foursquare.

So, after all this, is Foursquare for me?  Strangely, yes.  It’s maddeningly addictive (I was angry when I realized I actually went out of the building for lunch and forgot to check in).  It’s voyeuristically fun to see where my friends are.  Most of all, I think there are huge business uses for this.  Imagine you check into a Borders store and they email you back a coupon good for a purchase in the next few hours.  Or if I check in repeatedly at a local Starbucks, they might send me a BOGO latte coupon, knowing that I was a loyal customer.  Maybe I can share these promotions with my Foursquare friends.  The possibilities are endless, especially when sharp marketing minds start to think about it.  Tasti D-Lite is already doing it, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see more companies jumping on board. 

So do feel free to friend me on Foursquare.  Just don’t blame me if I’m boring.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. February 17, 2010 5:43 pm

    I’m with you – didn’t get the point at first (and I’m still figuring out the “why”) but it’s fun. I only have it linked to my twitter, because I make enough noise on FB as it is.

    What do you think about Gowalla? Seems exactly the same, but alas, they don’t have a blackberry app yet, so I’m a Foursquare girl for now.

    PS – when you get a sec – just see who’s mayor of the Dobbs Ferry Diner!

    • Barbara Rose permalink
      February 17, 2010 5:56 pm

      You were up, at the gym and at work before I walked out the door this morning. Thinking you must get that energy from going to the gym, and trying to be inspired by your posts. And I had an odd sense of pride in my “bender” badge (out 4 nights in a row), but glad that I didn’t let that post on my facebook page (for my young nieces to be inspired by.)

  2. traceesioux permalink
    February 17, 2010 6:54 pm

    that’s somewhat awesome and somewhat creepy. but that’s what we thought about facebook and twitter right. which obviously should feed at the same time.

  3. Suzanne permalink
    February 21, 2010 7:31 pm

    Great description of foursquare and the lure of playing. But I still hesitate to add friends I don’t know. As you witnessed, playing on the iPod Touch adds the extra challenge of not being able to check in to places without wi-fi. I take the time to add places that aren’t listed and correct addresses, because I think this application is useful and, like Yelp, helps others to find places nearby and share tips.

  4. February 22, 2010 10:55 am

    Sara, I haven’t tried Gozilla, but until I get my iPhone or they have a blackberry app, I won’t.

    Barb, so jealous of a “bender” badge. Maybe 3 5am gym checkins will get me one?

    Suzanne, GREAT point. This is a social service where you reveal a lot about yourself. Friending people you don’t know may not be the greatest idea, especially when you reveal when you are and are not at home.

  5. March 6, 2010 2:42 pm

    Interesting but I can’t imagine it replacing Goodreads as my primary addiction.

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