Despite all the hype, there still seems to be some confusion about what Foursquare ‘really ‘is and why a business (or an end user) might want to use it.
Many consider New York-based Foursquare to be one of the hottest internet properties around. Like Twitter when it first came out, Foursquare has been the talk of the town in 2010.
The concept behind Foursquare is simple; you share your location. You use your cell phone or mobile device to «check-in” with your friends. The places you can check into are endless ranging from cafes and bars to restaurants, parks, offices and museums. Once your friends know where you are, they can then recommend places for you to go or things to do.
But that is just the beginning. Foursquare is a social game as well. The service gives you points for each check-in and you can ultimately earn various badges for frequent visitation to a certain place as well as other VIP treatment. And if you have visited a place more often than anyone else, you will be recognized as the mayor of that location. As a mayor, you will be offered special discounts and free links.
The naysayers wonder if identifying your whereabouts is really such a great idea and are concerned about the privacy implications. But Foursquare management is quick to point out that their social network is quite safe and that ultimately you inform only your Foursquare friends and can choose when you want them to know where you are.
Foursquare has attracted some big businesses into its fold. For example, Starbucks has a deal with the company; you earn a “Barista badge” if you check-in five times with the retailer.
Starbucks, like many companies, see Foursquare as part of its customer loyalty or VIP program, using it to reward frequent visitors. Imagine this example of how a VIP program could work with Foursquare. You are conducting an event. Prior to the event, you award badges on Foursquare. When your customer arrives at the entrance, he shows his badge and, in short, becomes a VIP customer with special privileges like the right to enter certain areas or hear speeches from which the badge-less will be excluded.
The benefits for Foursquare users? It is another way for them to connect with friends, earn badges and garner perks from the places they check-in. As a user, you also have access to a check-in history so you can keep tabs on where you go, who you meet and what you are spending your money on.
Foursquare is on fire in terms of growth. It is fast-approaching 1.6 million members and there are no signs that its growth will abate any time soon. In early June the location-sharing mobile game was growing at about 15,000 users per day.
The company is currently doing about 10+ checkins per second. That translates into 36,000 checkins per hour and 864,000 a day. By the end of June, Foursquare expects to hit 11.58 checkins per second which means it will be processing over 1 million checkins per day.
Having said that, the success or failure of Foursquare will really depend on whether the company can add value to the service in a variety of ways: partnerships as well as more sophisticated features which will encourage interaction between users checking into the same venues.