Be There or Be Foursquare

“But it wasn’t a dream, it was a place. And you and you and you…and you were there [and I unlocked my Swarm badge on Foursquare].

– Dorothy Gale

Okay, so it’s possible I added that last part of Dorothy’s quote myself, but I’m betting it will be a likely addition when Disney re-makes the movie and casts Hillary Duff in the lead role.  But nonetheless Foursquare and similar Lo-So (Location-based Social Media) are taking the world by storm and we in the marketing world need to be prepared for it for our clients.

Where’s Waldo? Why Don’t You Check His Foursquare Profile?

As of March of this year, Foursquare had

  • Over 500,000 users
  • Awarded over 1,000,000 badges
  • Over 1.4 venues offering 1200 specials
  • Over 15.5 millions check-ins

And that was with only one year under their belt.  Chances are a good number of the people you know are already on it or have tested it out.  With that kind of reach, how could it be a beneficial resource for your clients?

How much more have you heard about them recently?  Probably a lot because they are still growing strong.  Don’t believe me?  How about you take a gander at this article about how they recently raised an additional $20 million dollars which puts their value at $96 million dollars.  What do you think of that, Mr. Doubty-pants?

Don’t Rob Me, Bro

So, one of the main arguments against location-based social media is the idea that thieves will pick up on your trends and locations and use that knowledge to rob you blind while you are becoming the mayor of the local Zaxby’s.  I do not agree with this argument.  Nor do I disagree with it.

Will checking in somewhere let everyone know that you are at that place?  Sure, but that doesn’t mean there are no security measures in place or people still at your house.  It just let’s people know where you are.  Do I think people need to act with common sense when posting their plans? Of course I do.  I wouldn’t advice a family to post that they are going to be gone for three weeks and forgot to set the alarm on their house in the same way I wouldn’t advice a small business to post their vacant hours and store security code.

We had this same argument about Facebook posts about 6 years ago.  If someone really, really wants to rob you, your social media status probably won’t hinder them.  Lo-So applications aren’t gong anywhere, so just be smart about how you use them.

Checking In, or Checking Out

So what does the future hold for Foursquare and the like?  Are they really simply passing fads?  I don’t think so and I think if they branch out intelligently, they can serve a great future good for small businesses and everyone else.

Many places are already offering discounts for their “mayors”.  That’s great and I think more businesses should get involved in that.  Events like Bonnaroo have come up with their own badges, a trend I see on the rise.

Why not in the future use Foursquare check-ins to help you with hotel and airline check-ins?  Could Foursquare build a partnership with local businesses and organize block-parties?  What would be the benefits of allowing more interaction between members with comments, tasks, or Foursquare meet-ups?

What do you think?

Discussion Questions:

  1. What do you see as the biggest benefit of a small business being on Foursquare?  The biggest detriment?
  2. How could the Foursquare offices make it more involved for the people checking in around the world?
  3. What would be some of the ways Foursquare could add augmented reality into their locals and check-ins?

I feel a good discussion on the way.


About Joey Strawn

Digital marketing sociologist and public relations specialist with experience on national and local campaigns with a love for film and the things it says about our culture and business. Joey is the Senior Social Media Strategist at ISM in Nashville, TN and is in the business of helping people and companies deal with the new universe of social media in their marketing and PR endeavors.
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