I’ve recently been fiddling around with the iPhone application, Foursquare. Basically, Foursquare is a new take on social networking. It allows it’s users to “friend” each other (similar to Facebook in theory) and “check in” every time they go somewhere. Each person in your network is then able to see exactly where you’ve been and any notes or “tips” left behind. Your reward for playing the game are points distributed for each check-in as well as unlocking badges for special events. Some of the badges are based on the number of different venues checked into, different Starbucks locations, airports, stops in one night, and etc. Furthermore, if you have checked into a particular venue more than anyone else, you are awarded “Mayor” of that spot. The thought is that becoming Mayor of something can grant you special rewards with that business. For example, Mayor of your local Starbucks may earn you $1 off your next purchase.
I’ve been messing around with this application for a couple weeks now and I can see some fun benefits both socially and professionally.
You and several friends are planning on hitting the bar circuit downtown, although not everyone can make it at the same time. As long as your friends have checked in at every stop, the late comers can quickly find where the group is. No texts, no calls, just a quick review of their check-ins and you’re there.
This example can be applied in many ways when it comes to social networking. Perhaps you’re meeting some people at the mall. Where are they when you get there? Check Foursquare. Not only is it a great way to find people, but it’s a fun way to compete with your friends:
- Who has the most badges?
- Who is Mayor of a certain favorite hangout?
- How many different venues have you checked into?
All in all it’s a fun new way to keep up with your social network and explore your city.
Here’s where it gets tricky. In my humble opinion, Foursquare networking is not essential, nor practical, for every type of business. There are several opportunities for certain types of companies to drive business to their front door. A local restaurant can offer a discount on purchases from Foursquare users. All they have to do is post a tip and encourage people to check in for their discount. The customer stops by, proves they checked in, and voila, 10% off their purchase! Of course, the next logical step (in the business owner’s mind) is that person’s network sees that they stopped by and also come in for a meal. And so on, and so on.
In that particular example, everyone wins. However, how can other businesses leverage this tool? This is where I get stuck. Take our company, 10For2, a web design and internet solutions firm. How exactly can I drive people to do business with me using Foursquare? Sure I can offer specials if they check in to my office, but who is going to go out of their way to check into a web design company? It doesn’t make any sense. Perhaps this type of social networking for most businesses is just that, social. I’m sure as more users log on and begin using the tool innovative ideas and business applications will come forth. Until then, I think I’ll just have a little more fun with it.
If you are a Foursquare user or have any thoughts on it’s business uses, please leave us a comment.