By Todd Murphy | April 22nd, 2011
Interestingly, this blog post started out as an experiment to find out how engaging location-based mobile platforms truly are. Many people won’t deny that they’ve either not heard of Foursquare, or have heard of it and asked, “But why?” Like all #newtools in the social media world, or any new tool for that matter, adoption only occurs if the question of “Why?” can be answered. Why participate in Foursquare? Why would I want to take the time, effort, or bother checking in as I travel about my day?
I’ve tested/played/worked Foursquare for about a month now, and my basic summation is that Foursquare does not suck. I know I’ve only scratched the surface of what circumstances and environments are right for location based social tools like this, but here’s what I can share so far.
First, Foursquare seems to work best when your community, or your friends, operate on a level playing field. If for example you spend most of your days at a desk in an office, but the rest of your friends or family are mobile and moving throughout the greater environment, you will never score well. You may become Mayor of your office, or even your cubicle, but you’ll never have the points you get from checking in and a variety of places. Besides, there’s just not enough engagement in this scenario to make it worthwhile if you don’t go anywhere.
Second, Foursquare is awesome for close groups of friends or families. When you mix the game theory with the ability to comment and post pictures, your result is a somewhat competitive platform that engages the group. I enlisted my family (2 kids, a wife, plus me). We now scramble to check-in from our smartphones, or iPOD Touch in the case of my daughter, to see who can maximize their points. You soon learn the strategy to maybe be the second person to check in and garner those additional points because your “BFF” is there. I know, kind of corny, but so is Karaoke and that’s hugely popular.
Finally, Foursquare is great for business to consumer location based check-in and event check-in. Restaurants, soccer fields, movie theaters, grocery stores, office buildings, concerts are all among places you can check in. If you don’t see it, add it based on the GPS location of the space you want to add. There are obvious marketing benefits to what you add and how you name it, not to mention the tips you might post…or hopefully your visitors post. Offering discounts and consumer generated recommendations are very good reasons to try Foursquare.
Where I think Foursquare fails, simply because of the model and not their platform, is that it offers very little in the way of business to business engagement. I have a hard time applying the location-based game platform to a B2B model, but maybe someone can suggest ideas and leave them in the comments below. Still, at a simple level, it has provided an engaging platform that my whole family can participate in no matter where we are. I even enabled my Android phone as a 3G mobile hot spot with Verizon so my 10 year old daughter can play when there’s not wi-fi in the wild for her.
Next step for my Foursquare use: Try and get the office team on board and competing during the week. I’ll update this post at a latter date.