With 1 million users and counting, Foursquare is touted as the next hot social media tool. But is there a business application? Should marketers care, or is it just another passing fad?
Foursquare is a location-based social networking service for the web and mobile devices, as well as a game.
The mobile app, calculates your location, and provides you with a list of restaurants and stores in the area. You find your restaurant in the list, select it, and touch “Check-In Here.” If you are hoping to locate people, you can include a brief “shout-out” message – “mini college reunion with Rachel and Pam!” - which quickly spreads to your friends on Foursquare, and also Facebook and Twitter.
This is just one example of why city dwellers are tapping into this new service. In addition to this friend-finding aspect, Foursquare is also a game. Users compete citywide to earn the most points each week. Each check-in earns that user one point. Extra points are earned through “badges,” awarded to the user after certain events (25 different places checked-in, out four nights in a row, etc.)
As the number of users has grown, the rewards have become more tangible. A user becomes the “mayor” of a location if he or she has checked-in there more than any other user. Businesses in turn are rewarding their mayors with real-world benefits. Local bars and restaurants are offering free or discounted food and drink, and chains like Starbucks and Whole Foods have launched coupon programs for Foursquare mayors.