Foursquare: why the f* should I care?

By Kathy Van Looy

 Saturday evening. Barbecue. My friends know I’m kind of a social media addict, so they pop a question: “That ‘check-in’ thing, what’s it called? Foursquare or something? Seriously, that is so damn stupid. What’s it good for? It’s made for people who like to brag about where they are, and who they are with.” Hmmm. Must. Keep. Calm. Will keep calm because they are my friends. Great friends by the way. But seriously? You should try something first, before breaking it down. So for them and all those others out there who think Foursquare is a nuisance and for braggers only: here’s what it’s all about.

This is Wikipedia’s definition on Foursquare: Foursquare, stylized as foursquare, is a location-based social networking website for mobile devices, such as smartphones. Users “check in” at venues using a mobile website, text messaging or a device-specific application by selecting from a list of venues the application locates nearby.[3] Location is based on GPS hardware in the mobile device or network location provided by the application. Each check-in awards the user points and sometimes “badges”.

So yes, it’s also for braggers. But the braggers are the stupid ones. Because the best feature on Foursquare is the fact that you can read and share “tips” to venues which serve as suggestions for great things to do, see or eat at the location. So really, it helps you to avoid the basic touristic traps. Eg: you are in Ibiza, and you want to go to a restaurant. Where should you go? Where are the closest restaurants? And are they any good?  The best thing to do is to check in on Foursquare: it’ll immediately tell you where the closest restaurants are (from where you are standing), AND you can immediately see recommendations from other people on the menu, the location, etc. Honest crowd feedback as we like to call it. The key to success by the way. And of course, when you’ve eaten, you can share your experience as well. And if you ever go back to Ibiza and you can’t remember where the restaurant was, you can just go back to Foursquare and find all the info back. No need to write anything down: it’s all there. Registered in your device. Easy. And for those with their own business, Foursquare is of course a great PR tool, especially when people check in and link it to their Facebook or Twitter page: extra visibility, free PR. Use it.


The big success of these location based, social powered and accessible on mobile devices (SoLoMo), lies in the fact that people prefer to follow opinions and experiences from their peers (or network): peer review and peer influence are critical factors in the buying cycle. In normal words: before you buy a new TV, who do you turn to first? Exactly: your family. Friends. People you trust. You follow their opinions, you listen to what they have to say.   

And where is this going to? I don’t want to scare anyone, but soon they will be able to sniff your intentions, and give you info on that. Eg: I check into my Delhaize supermarket. Based on my fidelity card, my profile and location, they will soon know everything about my shopping behaviour. And as soon as I check in, the supermarket will send me alerts on which of my favourite products are in promotion that day. Or a nice recipe I could try based on the stuff I’ve bought. Yes, it’s scary. But that’s where we are heading. Get ready for it.




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