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Still Bewildered About Foursquare? Chickie In Boots Explains.

by James Ball on April 5, 2010

You’ve heard of Foursquare and other location based services such as Gowalla, Brightkite, Loopt, Whrrl, and Lunch, and you’ve likely already decided to either participate or ignore them completely. From a business point of view, I think that we all need to be watching closely and pro-actively participating as we follow the evolution of these services and apps. If you are one who has avoided location based services because you don’t understand them, this post is for you.

I’m going to stick to Foursquare in this post. I think that having a fair understanding of one location based service can pretty well open one’s eyes to the general ideas and concepts that are driving the trend. Check out the following resources, I’ll continue with a few more thoughts after that.

“Hi! We’re part friend-finder, part social cityguide, part nightlife game. We wanted to build something that not only helps you keep up with your friends, but exposes you to new things in and challenges you to explore cities in different ways. There’s a lot of experimenting here, so bear with us as we try to figure it all out (and thanks!)” -From the Foursquare Facebook Page

The new, and “official” Foursquare video:


“Foursquare, the hottest Social Network on the web turned one yesterday. Hard to believe that it’s been around for just 365 days and still boasts of half a million users, 1.4 million venues, 15.5 million check-ins and is growing exponentially by the day if not by the hour!” – Thoughts on Social CRM and Analytics March 12th, 2010

Business owners – Consider getting involved with location based services and apps sooner rather than later. Perhaps you can see the reasoning and potential value already, but are just a little confused on how and where to begin…I hope that now, after this post, that you’ll head out and sign up somewhere! If you are still a bit lost as to how and why this is important to you, let me point out a few more things that might shed some light:

  • Acclimating yourself to using location based apps and services that use your handheld Smartphone or devices GPS capability is merely keeping current. In my mind, as a business owner, participation is mandatory. You’ll need to actually have a better than average understanding of how others are making use of this technology to stay involved and ahead of the curve on the social web. Consider re-thinking your stand if you don’t foresee location based advertising and marketing becoming more prevalent for us all in the near future, business owners and consumers alike.
  • Integrating your location based apps with your Twitter and Facebook updates can give your online presence some much needed “personal” flair. Allowing those that follow you a window into some of your activities that are NOT business related can help to align yourself with your followers interests and commonality…it adds a very “human” element. I feel that this is true for both B2C and B2B companies. This question on LinkedIn the other day caught my attention: “How do you all see Foursquare being utilized in the B2B space?” My reply: “Foursquare is a game, as others here have said…still, it is social networking. If it’s a social network, then it becomes a venue for social media marketing. B2B success leans heavily on relationships among decision makers…so I’d suggest that any relationship via social networking that can help deepen a relationship is a good thing. Following along on Foursquare with others does provide some insight to the interests, activities, and travels of others. It’s a touch point that can help to understand the personality and habits of those that you do business with, or are considering doing business with. There are good and bad implications that can be drawn from this…but such is life and business on the social web.”
  • Every day businesses are figuring out new and different ways to generate foot traffic to their venues using location based services. This strikes me as important on a few different levels. Consumers are using the services to guide their purchases. Your competitors are thinking about ways that they might leverage location based marketing using services like Foursquare to market themselves. Can you afford not to be listed as a venue?

  • Bing has added “Foursquare everywhere” to their map feature. You can even “check in” on Yelp now. Twitter too has adopted opt-in location support to their service. Facebook may even be gearing up to add location based services and features. With so many interested in location as a feature, one could safely assume that location based services warrant careful investigation.
  • You’re already there. Anyone can add your venue…it doesn’t have to come from you. Check-ins, recommendations, and even complaints may already be happening without you. As with the rest of the social web, your lack of participation won’t stop the conversations. Better to be a part of these conversations, always.

Comic via Andrew Jones at

At first glance it’s easy to see how nightclubs and restaurants are benefitting from Foursquare, don’t let this dissuade you from getting involved if you are a retail establishment. At this stage in the game, no pun intended, creativity is all that is needed to capitalize on Foursquare and other location based services for your particular type of business, whatever it may be!

Do you already have strong feelings or thoughts about Foursquare and other location based services? I’d love to have your input in the comment section. If you have a Foursquare story or other resources that you want to share, I’d love to hear about these today as well. Comments are always welcome.

Disclosure: I have not received any compensation for writing this content and I have no material connection to the brands, topics and/or products that are mentioned herein.
Lisa April 5, 2010 at 1:44 pm

Very informative, James! Thanks :) The potential retail business value of FourSquare is impressive.

@ratpack April 5, 2010 at 8:35 pm

Great writeup James. I hope it encourages local businesses to take note and get on board. Besides the basics of making sure their venue information is accurate and have really great tags to aid users in searching for venues, businesses can take it one step further and offer promotions for Foursquare users. After a business creates a special offer in the Foursquare system, if a Foursquare player checks in at an establishment in the immediate vacinity they will be alerted that there is a special deal in their area (would be awesome in the future if this became a push technology that would alert you regardless if you check in). The player can then view whatever special the business is offering right from their mobile device while they are at another venue. This may get a business some foot traffic from someone that may not have known about their business or the deal may be just enough incentive to make them decide to visit one location instead of a competitor.

@ratpack April 5, 2010 at 8:35 pm

Creating a business account to offer specials also gives the business access to customer analytics about persons who check in at their venues. This is still in early stages and the information is pretty basic (gender, times, etc), but I anticipate this continuing to grow and expand over time offering richer datasets to venue owners which I find highly compelling. All of this location stuff is still so new, I can only imagine how this will continue to advance and evolve over time. Businesses will eventually need to pay attention to these types of applications as they expand in popularity. As with most things, it is better to be leading the charge than running to catch up with the herd.

@LifeOfGreg April 7, 2010 at 12:32 am

I've been considering getting Foursquare, but I've considered it a waste. This post made me check it out, and I found it to be a very fun app! I can definitely see this as a viable option for business use (especially more than, but don't get me started on that again!).
I'll definitely be using it for personal use, especially due to the easy Twitter integration.

@LifeOfGreg April 7, 2010 at 1:24 am

No problem, James; the pleasure's all mine! I can't wait to go down to, say, Kennesaw and see all the places, tips, and "to-do's!" And I actually like the competitiveness that's been established… Don't you worry, you'll have a run for your money when it comes to Wal-Mart!

@DennisLLynn April 19, 2010 at 3:46 pm

James – excellent post. The location-based channels and networks are only going to gain popularity – we might as well jump in there and start to understand the significance and possibilities.

James Ball April 19, 2010 at 3:56 pm

Thanks for taking the time to comment here today Dennis, it's a pleasure to have you here! Yes, I can't stress it enough…or keep up with it all myself enough…we all need to be as plugged into this as we can get!

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