The Foursquare fascination – Social Media Autobiography (part 10)

The journey continues…

This is the next post in the second series of posts about my experience with social media, a journey that began in May of 2009 (or even earlier if you focus on LinkedIn).  It has been an interesting one, and one that has been filled with a variety of experiences, successes, and learning opportunities.

Discovering foursquare

I discovered foursquare after hearing about it through the Mashable tweets that talked about it.  Here is a quick summary from Wikipedia on what foursquare is: “Foursquare is a location-based social networking website, software for mobile devices, and also a game. Users “check-in” at venues using a mobile website, text messaging or a device-specific application.[1] They are then awarded points and sometimes “badges.” The service was created by Dennis Crowley and Naveen Selvadurai; Crowley had previously founded the similar project Dodgeball, which Google bought in 2005 and shut down in 2009. As it closes in on 1.3 million users in June 2010,[2] Foursquare is being pursued by Internet giant Yahoo! Inc., which has offered as much as $125 million for the service.[3] Foursquare raised $20 million in June 2010 from Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz.[4].” >> Read the rest of the Wikipedia article here.  The service was launched on March 1, 2009.

My own experience – points, points, points

My first check-in (as I look back at my history at the foursquare website) was on January 8, 2010 at 8:10 pm at Un Mundo Cafe in Springfield, OH (which explains why it wasn’t in my first series on social media, which I did in October.)  I quickly fell in love with it, and my achievement drive loved the scoring mechanism.  In Foursquare, you get points for every check-in.  1 point for the first check-in, two for the second check-in, three for the third check-in, etc., so it encourages multiple check-ins during the same day.  You also get five points for your first check-in at a place and even more points for entering a new venue (location check-in).  There is also a leaderboard, which shows the current weekly totals for you and all your friends (similar to facebook personal where you allow people to be friends and you request to be their friend).   At the height of my foursquare use, I was conquering the leaderboard, with over a hundred points per week.  I currently have 65 friends. 

More outlets for competitive types…

There are two other ways to excel in foursquare, which is really a social media game.  You can become the “Mayor” of a particular venue (place), which happens when you check in a certain amount more times than anyone else.  You can also lose the “mayorship,” if someone checks in more than you.  I recall Sara McKinniss and I battling over the building we worked at (Commerce Pointe in Springfield, Ohio). 

The other badges of honor in the game are, actually, “badges,” which you earn from doing certain things.  I have 11 different badges, including Newbie (for your first check-in), Superstar (for checking into 50 venues), and Overshare (10+ checkins in 12 hours).  Here is a current list of badges

Is there a business application anywhere?

I was a big foursquare user for about four months (ironic, lol).  I have stopped using it (at least for the time being).  There are a number of reasons.  Foursquare works well, I believe for retail establishments, and there are a lot of stories out there on the web about how some businesses have made the game work for them – mayor discounts, for example.  The application for economic and community development, though, seems murky at best.  So, after trying it out for a while, I’m not really using it. 

What about for economic/community development?

The biggest case study out there is the State of Pennsylvania.  On May 25, the State put out a press release that it was the first state to join Foursquare.  The application here is to tourism.  “Foursquare is the hot new thing in the social networking universe,” said Pennsylvania Deputy Secretary of Tourism Mickey Rowley. “Think of it as social scene social media. You determine the places to see and be seen. Plus, its mobile savvy allows users to instantly alert friends of their location, offer tips and create a must-do list.”

The State has created creative badges and is working hard to get all Pennsylvania businesses connected to the social networking game.  “We would like to see every Pennsylvania restaurant, retail store, historical site, and museum join Foursquare,” Rowley said. “The best part is that it doesn’t cost anything to add a location, plus it gives businesses a chance to reward customers who are checking in the most.”

The State has its own website for foursquare – http://www.visitpa.com/trip-ideas/see-more-pa/pa-with-foursquare/index.aspx.  A recent article from Technically Philly (end of June) provides some more details. 

In summary, I think the best possible application for foursquare will be in the tourism area, but I also think the jury’s still out.

>> Foursquare’s article on how to use for business

>> How to use Foursquare to boost retail sales

>> Putting Foursquare to use for your business (Constant Contact)

>> Five ways to leverage Foursquare for business (Penn Olson)

>> State of PA joins Foursquare (May 25, 2010)

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