As one of the newest social networking application using GPS tracking, Foursquare is putting a new spin on the way users communicate with their friends and their favorite brands. Launched in March of 2010, this network is an infant in comparison to social network giants such as Facebook and Twitter, but the marketing possibilities of Foursquare may prove to be even greater than it’s competition! Last month I finally broke down and jumped on the iPhone bandwagon! Upon purchasing the phone, I immediately installed my favorite social network applications- Facebook, Twitter, and Linked In. In addition to these staples, I added a new channel to my social repertoire- Foursquare.
What the heck is Foursquare?
If you haven’t tried this new network- give it a whirl! Foursquare is a location-based social networking service, mostly used on smartphones, although users do have the ability to update their location via computer. The idea is that people “check-in” at whatever venue they happen to be visiting- restaurants, bars, stores, you name it. This allows users to keep tabs on what their friends are doing and where they’re hanging out. Why check in? Simple. Foursquare has turned life into one big game. The more venue “check-ins” you wrack up, the more points you earn to unlock “badges.” And if you record the highest number of check-ins at a particular venue, you become the “mayor”! Doesn’t get much more exciting than that!
Rewarding consumers for “Check-ins”
Beyond the social aspect of Foursquare, this application demonstrates great potential in the way of advertising and marketing. Foursquare has already established partnerships with numerous brands and is now working on business development projects with local merchants. To give you an idea of how Foursquare is being used to advertise brands, check out Dairy Queen’s new Fall promotion titled, “10 to the 4th Power”. This promotion incorporates Foursquare by enticing ice cream enthusiasts to “check-in” at their local Dairy Queen location on October 10, 2010 (10/10/10) for a chance to win 10 free Mini-Blizzards! Pretty sweet, right?
But Dairy Queen isn’t the first venue to use Foursquare as a marketing tool! Popular brands such as Starbucks, H&M, Golden Coral, and countless others, are using Foursquare as a way to distribute coupons and special offers to consumers. As a matter of fact, Starbucks was the first brand to introduce a “Mayor” Special- $1 discount on a Frappucino, any size, any flavor throughout the month of June!
Is it safe to “Check-in”?
Foursquare may be ideal for keeping track of friends or finding someone in crowded metro area, but location-based platforms like Foursquare, Gowalla, and even Facebook which recently introduced location updates, may pose privacy threats if not used responsibly. (and I heard Friday Facebook might be unveiling location-based data soon) are the hot new thing in the tech world. That means the rest of the world will probably think they’re cool about 6-9 months from now. Like many Web 2.0 companies, the location-based services have open source coding and Facebook-like privacy ignorance in their DNA. It’s astounding how little concern has been given to people’s privacy, safety and security with these softwares. But I blame the users almost as much as the companies themselves.
Jennifer Leggio, editor of the Social Business division of ZDNet explains some of Foursquare’s key privacy concerns in her article, “Foursquare’s Privacy Loopholes”. Here she points out hidden privacy concerns that some users may take for granted. Some users may not realize that Mayorships are public information, while some users may use the “I’m in the room,” alerts to creep on unsuspecting users. As with any social networking platform, as much as we want to share information with our friends, there’s no telling what kind of creepers are lurking in cyberspace!
Hopefully I haven’t scared you away by this point! Check out Foursquare for yourself- I really think you’ll have fun with it!