What Is Foursquare?


“Explore your world.”

Foursquare is a location-based social platform developed for smartphones. The service was started in 2009 by Dennis Crowley and Naveen Selvadurai and is based around the GPS capabilities built into many mobile devices. The idea was to take the social media experience out of the browser and into the real world by turning physical places into “Venues” and award users points for checking-in to these venues.

The Basics:

  1. check-in screenIt’s a social network: First and foremost, Foursquare is a social network, much like Facebook and Twitter. One can connect with friends by searching their current networks to see which of their friends are already on Foursquare or by sending invites via email. Once you add a new friend, it will by default make it so that you receive push notifications whenever that friend checks in to a venue. This can be turned off. You can also leave comments on your friends’ check-in’s. Some third party Foursquare apps also feature the ability to synch your friends with contacts in your address book, allowing you to call, text or email them right from the app. You also have the option of linking your Foursquare account with your other networks, with the ability to publish check-in’s and accomplishments to Facebook and Twitter.
  2. It’s a game: A secondary aspect of Foursquare is good old fashioned competition. The “game” is something more like king of the hill and not the service’s namesake, surprisingly enough. Whenever you check in to a venue, you are awarded points. The amount of points differs, with determining factors ranging from the time of day you check in to amount of times you checked in so far that day. Foursquare provides a leader board to see how you and your friends are ranking for the given week.
  3. Mayorships: Ah yes, mayorships. This one usually has people scratching their heads whenever we go somewhere for dinner and I randomly shout, “YES! I just became mayor!” You see, when you check-in more frequently in a given period of time than anyone else, you can become the “mayor” of that particular venue. What’s the point? Bragging rights, mostly. Remember, it’s a game. Occasionally though, whoever manages a particular venue will award the mayor with a special discount or something just for being the mayor.
  4. Badges: In a clever take on the scouting program, the Foursquare system awards users “badges” for completing certain
    im on a boat!

    I'm On A Boat!

    tasks and making accomplishments. Some of these are basic, such as the “Newbie” badge, wich every user gets after their first check-in or the “Adventurer” badge after check-ins to 10 different venues. As you go on, the badges get more complicated (and hilarious) such as “I’m On A Boat!”, awarded for checking-in to a boat or ferry and the elusive “Super Mayor”, for maintaining 10 mayorships at once.

  5. Photos, Tips and To-Do’s: When you check-in to a venue, you can take a photo with your smartphone and upload it. You can also leave a “tip” at each venue you check in to. A tip is just a tidbit of advice that you might want to leave at that place, such as secret orders at restaurants and the like. When you check in, you can see the tips that others have left. If there are tips regarding things to do, you can save them and make them into to-do’s. This is especially fun when you check in to an amusement park or mall.

How Are Businesses/Brands Using Foursquare?

The possibilities are pretty much endless. Foursquare is constantly making partnerships with nationwide brands to provide special opportunities for people who check in to recommended venues and whatnot. Some brands even have their own official Foursquare badges See the official 4Sq for brands.

Local businesses can also get in on the action. By creating an account, a merchant can claim their venue and then create Specials for certain activities like ousting someone as the mayor or checking in a certain number of times. Foursquare also has its very own analytics tool, which it offers for free to venue managers. Owners can use this tool to see who has checked in recently, who their most loyal customers are and what days and times are the busiest for check-ins. They can then coordinate certain activities around this information such as swarm parties (when lots of people check-in at once). For more, see this Foursquare page for merchants.

Is Foursquare Hiring?

Why yes, Foursquare is hiring. Check out this page for a list of current open positions.

How Do I Join Foursquare?

You can visit their official website (www.foursquare.com) and create an account and then download the free app on your GPS-enabled mobile device. Compatible phones include: Apple iPhone (3G, 3GS, 4), Blackberry, Android devices, Nokia Ovi, Windows Phone, and Palm phones. Download the from the Apple App Store here.

Follow this company on Twitter (@foursquare) and Like them of Facebook (www.facebook.com/foursquare).

One Response to “What Is Foursquare?”
  1. Brent says:

    Interesting stuff you have going on here. I would like to see more “how to” than “what is” though. Great site!

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