Call it layers or context or whatever you want. The bottom line is that Foursquare is launching a new content service with the Independent Film Channel (IFC) to give users targeted, geo-localized information for their check ins. Likewise, the Huffington Post has also entered a deal with Foursquare to push local news info context to its users.
IFC Big On Social Media
The IFC is on top of its social media gig: it has crowdsourced the data that is now being pushed to Foursquare users - at least those who have opted in to get it. The IFC has branded the operation and service "The IFC Always On, Slightly Off Guide to America." What it did was to ask its community (or members, or fans, if you prefer), to provide a short description of their favourite haunts and places in the U.S.: "If there's a sushi spot with monkey waiters in tutus you love, we want to hear about it!" Then, it uploaded the content to Foursquare to provide targeted, 'insider' - so to speak - information to the users of the location-based service.
Here's the IFC's video:
Added Value To Foursquare
Now what this means for Foursquare is that the service now can provide tips on check-in places, i.e. it now contextualizes its check-ins. This is good news, only a few days after reaching 1 million check-ins in one day, as such data layering is likely to bring it even more users, given the practicality of the service.
Let's hope they don't get failwhale-like overload issues...
What It Means - Really
According to GigaOm, "Foursquare users who check in to more than three of the locations in the guide get a special badge." Translated into a concrete example, IFC data integration means that a person who has opted in on the service will, when s/he checks into a location, be served with suggestions near the place with reviews on it too. With Huffington Post data working similarly, information on local news events like parades or strikes or accidents (you name it) will be pushed to the subscriber.
As far as Foursquare is concerned, the only other layering/contextualization deal it has agreed upon is with Twitter and it is its data that is being loaded on the chirpy company's platform. With these deals, Foursquare is taking it all to another stage. Up to now, there was on the one hand review-based services like Yelp and on the other hand, check-in apps like Foursquare, Gowalla and the likes of them. Now Foursquare merges both.
Of course, one could always get back to the traditional Zagat or Michelin reviews but I bet they will soon bring and adapt their content to Foursquare format (if they're not already preparing to do so)...
In the end, as ReadWriteWeb said, "In a perfect world, these location-based social networks would act like browsers, able to see and post interoperable location-based data from and to any platform."
What do you think? And how do you think Facebook might come into the market?