Launched at SXSW in March 2009, FourSquare has grown rapidly along with the popularity of social networking platforms used on mobile devices that share locations with friends. The company took 44 days to go from 5 to 6 million users, many of whom must be my friends on Twitter as I am always seeing the posts of them checking in at some location.
"Foursquare is a location-based mobile platform that makes cities easier to use and more interesting to explore. By "checking in" via a smartphone app or SMS, users share their location with friends while collecting points and virtual badges. Foursquare guides real-world experiences by allowing users to bookmark information about venues that they want to visit and surfacing relevant suggestions about nearby venues. Merchants and brands leverage the foursquare platform by utilizing a wide set of tools to obtain, engage, and retain customers and audiences," the company site states.
Main Stream Popularity
FourSquare is getting some free television advertising - the History channel is pushing social platforms - their ads ask people to follow them on Twitter, Facebook and FourSquare. FourSquare leads the ad and the channel announces its commitment to adding historical locations users can see and visit with the program.
Tie in with Starbucks and other large multiple location companies has helped get businesses on board - and the growing millions of users does not hurt.
Badges, They Really Do Need The Stinking Badges
Part of the attraction of FourSquare is its tie in to Twitter, its mobile platform - users log in with their smart phones and post where they are - restaurants, airports and so many more places - and they give badges. People vie for the Mayorship of their favorite coffee shop or bar, or search for special badges companies set up.
The popularity of the badges has seen sites dedicated to how to get them - like a video game walk thru - pop up.
Users Have Fun, Businesses Promote It
As the site explains to business owners, "whether you're a national chain, a mom-and-pop shop, or anywhere in between, you can attract new customers or reward your most loyal ones by offering foursquare Specials - mobile coupons, prizes or discounts - which are presented to users when they check in at or near your venue. Specials create extra enticement to get customers to stop by - think 20% off a meal, a free dessert, or even a reserved parking spot for your most loyal customers. Specials can be tailored to fit your needs, whether it's a unique discount for first-time customers or rewards for the 10th visit."
Its growing user base will only make this more attractive to businesses.
Would You Like A Pizza With Your Badge?
Domino's in the UK has embraced the FourSquare market. They engage their checkins with smart funny offers tied in to events and have seen an increase in orders. This type of success has other companies scurrying to adopt similar methods. Events have created badges that have secret ways to gain badges to add to the attendees experience.
"Foursquare is also struggling to keep up with demand from businesses that want to experiment with the service as a marketing tool and give away coupons to those who frequently check in. Venues including Starbucks Corp., the fitness chain Crunch LLC and Bergdorf Goodman, are experimenting with specials," the Wall Street Journal noted.
Recent Rule Changes May Hurt
As the site has grown it has developed corporate sensibilities which may impact the fun factor. Stopping people who are not really at a location from getting or keeping badges seems a little misguided. Branding is lost at the cost of some accuracy.
"The popularity may slow if badges are rescinded or some locations removed, but that has to be seen. Right now it has become a popular way to share location enjoyment - real or otherwise. And it doesn't seem to be slowing FourSquare partnerships with major content providers, SEW reported on FourSquare previously.
As companies embrace the technology and develop new ideas to market with FourSquare, both users and businesses using it will grow even more.
Meet Your Favorite Search Engine Watch Contributors
Many of SEW's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Thom Craver, Josh Braaten, Lisa Barone, Simon Heseltine, Josh McCoy, Lisa Raehsler, Greg Jarboe, Dan Cristo, Joseph Kerschbaum, John Gagnon, Eric Enge and more!