Confectious Concoctions

Posts Tagged ‘foursquare

foursquare logoYou may have heard of one of the newest social media service Foursquare. It’s a location-based service that allows you to check in to places using your mobile phone, collecting points and badges, like “Newbie”, “Super User”, “Gym Rat”, and “Adventurer” along the way. You can also become “Mayor” of that place after you check in a certain amount of times. The most compelling part of mayorships is the fact that you can lose them as quickly as you get them, so there are incentives for continuing to check-in. I have to say, when I lose any of my mayorships, there is a moment of, “Doh! I must go back!” even if it’s just Walgreens. The points you collect are pitted against your network of friends and others in your city. You don’t really get anything for being at the top of the leaderboard of points.

Possibly the best uses for users is the ability to find new places and try new things at places you visit. When I check my phone to see where my friends are and what they’re up to, oftentimes there are several of them checked-in to venues I hadn’t heard of. Leaving tips, like who the best yoga teacher is, or what the best pizza toppings are, lets you connect to future visitors and help them figure out where to go, what to order, or who to see. There are many reviewing sites out there right now, the biggest being Yelp, but Foursquare is really the only one that’s making it fun, at the same time allowing for business applications.

Small businesses are starting to use this service to attract new customers by hosting a “Swarm” badge event. Local burger joint AJ Bombers in Milwaukee got 161 people in one afternoon to their location by promoting they could achieve the ever-elusive Swarm badge (when 50 or more people have to be checked-in at the same time). Promotions giving users discounts the first time they check in may also initiate trying out a new place. Loyalty programs may also be implemented for Mayors, making becoming Mayor a competition that ends in discounts or other special deals.

Gowalla is another geo-social networking service that functions similar to Foursquare, but is still different in the main ideas behind it. Each service was introduced at SXSW a year ago, and each attracts a certain kind of user. This blog post by Jeff Croft is a good, fairly objective view of the differences of each. Honestly, I haven’t delved much into Gowalla just yet – I’m a Foursquare girl.

There are certain downsides with these services, as there are with every social media channel. So I just advise you to be careful.

I also advise you to not overshare your check-ins on Twitter and Facebook. I’ve had several discussions with friends on this. It surrounds the idea that “no one cares where you are,” much like Twitter used to be used to announce what one ate for breakfast. So be self-scrupulous on when you send your check-ins to Twitter and Facebook, or else you risk annoying your followers and friends.

So there you have it. Go on, sally forth, go play, go see what checking in is all about.

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