Facebook tells the world who you are. Twitter broadcasts to the world what you are doing. Foursquare, the location-based social networking service, allows users to let friends and family know just where they are, with special benefits included.
Foursquare is, at its core, a game. Users check-in at locations where they are, shout a few words to their friends and fight over mayorships, badges and special offers. Unlike Facebook, which took some time to find a true revenue source, and Twitter, which has yet to outline a stable business model, relevance in Foursquare will prove instant value to any local institution.
Foursquare takes word-of-mouth marketing to a whole new level. Receiving a ‘ping’ from a friend checking into 416-Florist.com and shouting, “Just picked up birthday flowers for Susan” will have a far greater affect on you than a bland advertisement on a billboard. As well, advertisers can find great use in Foursquare to collect data on customers checking-in and participating in certain promotions. Soon enough, the hot shots on Madison ave. will be able to pinpoint a message to meet your demands exactly. Although that may seem scary to some, the pros do exceed the cons. Like this story about Miss Shirley’s in Baltimore (via aboutfoursquare.com):
The Sunday brunch line at Miss Shirley’s Café’s two locations in Baltimore often stretches to two hours or more. Since April, they’ve offered to let their foursquare mayor jump to the head of the line.
The competition for that coveted honor has been fierce. According to Ryan Goff of agency MGH, Miss Shirley’s has seen a 427% increase in foursquare checkins since the special launched. They’ve heard several anecdotal reports of people visiting more often just to try to earn the mayorship.
In Toronto, I recently got a friend request from the nationally distributed newspaper, the National Post. I didn’t see any reason to ignore the request and so I accepted, wondering where this paper would be checking into. A little later on in the day, I checked into Hemingway’s Restaurant for a nice lunch with a friend. Only a few seconds after checking-in I received a recommendation from the National Post’s food critic about a particular sandwich. I figured I would give it a shot, and it paid off! The meal was delicious and it was because I put trust in this particular recommendation. Local businesses can tap into this and gain new customers just by setting up their profile on the city grid. “Special offers nearby” always attract visitors and to be “Trending Right Now” is a sign of immediate success.
Foursquare, and its growing partnerships around the globe, is here to stay. Although there is considerable competition in the market from Gowalla, Foursquare is winning the people over in droves. With connections in Facebook and Twitter, updates may eventually come solely through third-party apps and with Foursquare’s fun and easy to use location-based service, it only makes sense that in time all your tweets will come through the Foursquare platform.
Still don’t get it? Watch the video below. You’ll be hooked after your first checkin.