Why I Love Foursquare

Have you tried Foursquare, the lightweight mobile app that let’s you “check-in” to various locations you visit? Foursquare shows you what restaurants, coffee shops, stores, etc. your friends are visiting. You win badges along the way depending on what types of places you visit and how far you travel in certain time periods. You battle with your friends to become the “Mayor” of a local place of interest. The more check ins you have, the more likely you are to be awarded mayorship.

Foursquare Check In Example

What you see above is pretty much what Foursquare is

Is it another mobile game? Is it a local search engine? Some pass off Foursquare and competitors Gowala and BrightKite as a time-wasting gimmickery. Not me.

This is why I love Foursquare:

Competition

Foursquare Competition - Congratulations. You just stole the title of mayor...
Okay so you pretty much have to go to work everday, right? So, you might as well show everyone who the virtual boss is, i.e. the Foursquare Mayor of your company. Dominate your friends with the click of a button. Appealing, huh? Even though what you are competing for may not have actual value, winning is fun. Bragging rights and pride can give this stuff a great deal of virtual value.

It appears my former co-worker, Kraig, stopped using Foursquare after losing the mayorship. George, of SEO Lair fame, laid low until I went on a three-week vacation, then snatched the mayorship out of my hands. When I got back, I was accused of having spammed Foursquare because it took him so many check ins to steal my mayorship :)

Security

Foursquare as a security tool - Honey, please check in!

Just knowing that your friends and family members have arrived is a good thing.

Snooping

Foursquare Snooping - Mayor of Victoria's Secret!
You’ll find your friends in the strangest places. And they will find you. I caught my Mom checking in at my Aunt’s house one day out of the blue. Trying to sneak into town without buying me lunch?

Savings

Foursquare Mayor Offer
Foursquare mayors do earn currency in the form of store discounts. Offers are in the early stages of being rolled out, but you can imagine the potential for viral insanity when friends start competing for mayorships over favorite venues.

History

Foursquare History

This is just a recent local check-in history, but Foursquare history becomes more interesting for those who travel often and far. Those who do are establishing a travel log with the click of a button, a trip journal that remains ostensibly forever. This proved to be a neat feature for me when I visited Indonesia and could not even pronounce some of the city names, much less remember them. The record preserved in the Foursquare online account appears to be comprehensive. I wouldn’t be surprised if Foursquare developed the history feature further, perhaps adding a trip map or RSS feed or making it exportable.

Exploration

Foursquare JetSetter Badge - Now that's exploration

The exploration and discovery aspect is a good reason to love Foursquare. If you like to travel but do not like travel planning like me, then you just arrive at the hotel and start the Foursquare app. Seconds later, you will be looking at dozens of the closest most popular places to visit. Let me see you do that, Google.

Local + Social

Foursquare Leaderboard Screen Cap

Until Foursquare, local was not a part of my social media experience. I wouldn’t mind attending some of the local meetups, but I have not really been motivated to take the time and risk of going to a Yelp event or the like. Foursquare is bridge between online social and offline social. Seeing and discussing locations around town with Foursquare friends has made me better informed and engaged.

Foursquare Singles App

Of course, if you want to take it to the next level, there is even a Foursquare dating app for the iPhone.

The Singles for Foursquare iPhone app lets you view and chat with singles who are at your current location.

Foursquare is so simple. You love it or you hate it. I try a lot of different apps and social media services. It takes a lot for me to really get into an app. I’m in.

Emory Rowland

I'm editor and keeper of the flame at Clickfire. I consider myself a fanatical blogger, entrepreneur and builder of Internet things from way back. My love for social media and success with organic search led me to start a SEO consulting venture. Apart from the Internet, I could be considered pretty worthless. More...

14 comments

  1. Stanman

    Foursquare is awesome. I’ve been using it for quite a while and I think it’s great. The ability of Foursquare to keep an on going history of the places I’ve been is a nice feature. I believe lots of people would enjoy using this app if they gave it a try.

  2. I had heard of this thing, had sort of a clue what it was, but didn’t really know what it was until your very thorough review.

    Thank you so much, and yeah, I’m jealous – I travel and get out of the house just enough that this thing would be useful, and I’d be interested to see what I could easily be mayor of.

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  4. Emory, looks like you’ve been having phone fun!
    I don’t have a smart phone, so I’ve pretty much ignored FourSquare until curiosity made me Google it.
    The site I visited didn’t really do it justice.
    You did.

    The only thing I’m not clear on is this: do you manually “check in” or is there some sort of proximity trigger?

    I would be wary if this thing were automatic. (Did you see the movie, Eagle Eye? I’m being paranoid, right?)

    Cheers,

    Mitch

    • Emory Rowland

      Mitchell, the site looks like an ordinary social media site, but using the mobile app lets you experience the true fun. Sometimes I log on to the regular Foursquare site on my desktop just to get more detailed info, but that is rare.

      The check in is totally manual–great question. However, If Foursquare had the bandwidth for it, I could see how an automatic check in would be an appealing option for the less paranoid among us. As I understand it, only friends can see where you check in. But still, paranoia can be a good thing especially if Eagle Eye becomes a reality :)

  5. Nick Stamoulis

    Foursquare is a great tool, once you get used to using it. We recommend it to our Clients as part of their Social Networking strategy, however, it isn’t going to do much for you if you are not active in it.

  6. Hi Emory,

    Thanks for clarifying. I was thinking about articles that discussed RFID, imagine the possibilities!

    Is that how EZ-Pass works on U.S. Highway system?

    Cheers,

    Mitch

    • Emory Rowland

      Hey Mitch, I think the app makes pretty heavy use of GPS. I hope people don’t start spamming it :)

  7. Hi Emory,

    Arrgh! More head-scratching. I haven’t got a clue how GPS works (I’ll assume Hollywood oversimplifies things …)

    From your comment, it’s not clear whether potential spammers would be businesses or FourSquare users trying to “game” the app.

    Cheers,

    Mitch

    • Emory Rowland

      Mitch, I was thinking more of users trying to spam Foursquare. It seems the app allows users to check-in to locations from miles away. So, a user would not deserve to be the mayor if he wasn’t actually there and checking-in. That kind of defeats the purpose of Foursquare. I assume this Foursquare could find a way to eliminate gaming the system like this. Who knows, I’m having fun at the moment :)

  8. Emory, what if businesses were proactive?

    Imagine Starbucks having a marquee with a CAPTCHA-like code displayed on it. To check in, you would do whatever you do now and also verify your presence by punching in the code.

    Imagine further that this doo-hickey were tied into the web app, somehow, so that the whole thing happens transparently.

    This won’t stop Bob from calling Alice and saying to her, “the code is ‘SNAFU’,” but it would keep honest people honest :)

    However, shouldn’t GPS be able to pinpoint the user’s location?

    Cheers,

    Mitch

    • Emory Rowland

      Mitch, you are right. A CAPTCHA-like code would come closer to proving you were there. The iPhone GPS can approximate your location and I would imagine there must be some way to tune the settings to contract or expand the radius. Haven’t tried to mess with that yet. Foursquare is too much fun to cheat though :)

  9. Kim Sanders

    I had never read reviews of Foursquare before. That’s why I really appreciated your post, it provided me a new learning. Thanks!

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    I think it sounds like a great way to compete with your friends. I am going to have to download it. :)

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