Is Foursquare the Next Twitter?

Posted by Heather Villa, CMA, MBA, MSM on April 28, 2010 in: Social Media Marketing


Early adopters of Twitter were already there when most people signed up last year. In watching the Twitter frenzy, it made me wonder what the NEXT Twitter was going to be.

One of the trends in ebusiness and internet marketing right now is the shift towards the local market. We’ve been so excited about the global opportunities provided by the web that we’ve ignored the local market until now. Foursquare is a site that brings an interesting way for business owners to reach their local market. I’m not sure yet if it’s going to be the next Twitter or not, but I wanted to tell you more about it here so you could explore it for yourself:

Foursquare is a location-based, interactive site and users can indicate where they are throughout the day. Every time they go somewhere (a coffee shop, a restaurant, a museum, a park), they “check in” to that location. Each user ends up with a Twitter-like stream of places that they go throughout their day. If Twitter is a social “What are you doing?” app, think of Foursquare as a social “Where are you?” app. Now, the idea of Foursquare might seem strange to you but I suspect it seems about as strange as Twitter did before Twitter became super-popular in 2009.

Using Foursquare
Using Foursquare is simple: Once you’ve signed up, you get your own profile, which includes a history of your check-ins, a list of Foursquare friends you have, and your stats. On your “Me” page, you can add tips and to-dos, which will make Foursquare engaging and helpful for you and others.

Using the app for whatever mobile platform you use, you simply check in to a place – any place you happen to be. So let’s say that your day looks like this: You’re doing some work in one of the nearby Starbucks in the morning then you are meeting a friend in the park for the afternoon. So you arrive at Starbucks and you use the app on your mobile to check-in to the Starbucks. Your phone’s GPS will confirm that you are indeed there. You work. You drink mocha lattes. Then you go to the park and you check in there.

That’s it. That’s the basic way to use Foursquare. Go somewhere. Check in. That’s it. Along the way, you’ll earn different things – points, badges, and mayorships.

  • Points: Every time you check-in, you earn points. Right now, there isn’t much to do with those points. But keep earning them! Foursquare is still in its infancy and they are inviting people to talk about how to use those points.
  • Badges: There are various ways to earn badges, which don’t do much except show you to be the unique individual you are. You can unlock badges by doing various activities.
  • Mayorships: If you check into a place more often than anyone else has, you’ll become the “mayor” of that place. It’s mainly a “bragging rights” concept but there’s more to it.

Along the way, you can also add tips and to-dos to various locations and they will pop up when you get to the venue they are assigned to. As you add Foursquare friends and they write tips about a place, those will pop up for you when you go to that venue. A tip might include something like, “You’ve got to try the double fudge Sundae”.

Using Foursquare for business
The biggest and best opportunities for businesses right now is to offer specials to people who have earned points, badges, or mayorships related to your business. For example, you might give a free sandwich to the mayor of your business or a discount based on the number of times they’ve checked into your venue.

Not only will you get people buying more frequently from your business to earn check-ins and mayorships, but you’ll also get some recognition (and free marketing!) from Foursquare itself. And, you’ll get people talking about your business on Foursquare (and then to their other networks like Twitter and Facebook).

My thoughts on Foursquare

Foursquare is interesting and it’s at the same point now that Twitter was a couple of years ago when people wondered “why would I ever use that?” It might or might not become the next big thing and there are certainly things that may need to change before it does become widely adopted. I admit I’m not totally sold on it but I see the potential and it’s worth evaluating to figure out if it’s right for your business.

Happy blogging!

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