Foursquare ™ is a social networking site that allows you to ‘check in’ at different venues when you are there. You can do this via your iPhone, Blackberry or Android mobile phone as it uses the inbuilt GPS locator to find where you are.
Every time you check in, you gain points. If it is the first time you are checking in at this venue you are awarded 5 points. If the venue has never been checked into before, either by you or anyone else, there is another 5 point bonus. All other check in’s are awarded one point only. At the end of the week you can see if you are the top ranked person amongst your ‘friends’.
Not only are you awarded points but you also gain merit badges along the way.
You earn these badges for multiple check in’s at places like the gym. Or for checking in a minimum number of times per month.
At each venue you check in to, you can also add a tip for that venue. The tip is a message about that venue. Eg, at the local fish and chip shop you might add in how good their grilled fish and salad is. This means that people who check in at this venue after the tip is uploaded can see the tip and knowing this info, may decide to follow the tip and order the same meal.
If you check into one place often enough (generally 3 times) you may become the mayor of that establishment. As you can see from this screen grab, I am currently the Mayor of 18 different establishments.
So why would anyone want to join Foursquare? At the moment there is no real benefit other than earning the badges and seeing how many you can get and for also trying to get as high as possible on the leaderboard each week. There is a future benefit that I can see and that is when business gets on board.
Currently, most businesses do not advertise their services or products or a special on Foursquare. If I was a small business owner, I would be setting up a Foursquare account, checking into my business for the first time and adding a tip. When people are near by and searching for their location to check in to, that businesses tip will show up and this is where the power of this application can really benefit businesses.
Once businesses get on board with Foursquare, the benefit to users will increase from the current use to one that users should get a benefit for advertising a business for free.
Is there a privacy issue in using Foursquare?
Once you have checked in somewhere you can choose to have your check in location shared with your friends via Twitter or Facebook.
It also updates on the internet. By checking in somewhere, people can see you are not at home which is a worry as some tech savvy people may be able to look up your name and address and pop in for a visit! And as no one may be home, this opens up the possibility that your house may be burgled or damaged.
So until business gets on board and offers incentive to people to use Foursquare, I will be giving it a miss for a little while.
Do you use Foursquare? Where do you see this application heading? Is there a future for Foursquare and other location based applications? Is there a privacy and security issue?