Thursday, April 15, 2010

Are there any merits of "Foursquare."

For the past few days, I've been using a new social media service called "foursquare."

Foursquare has been around for a while, but only recently started to catch on in Logan. It is a location-based social media service where people use their cell phones to "check in" at businesses, buildings and events around a community. Users get points for checking in at more places, and if they frequent a location, earn "badges" that they can display to friends saying they're "crunk" (if they visit four places in one night) or that they're a "local" (if they go to one location several times in one week.)

Foursquare started in bigger cities, but again, only recently started to have locations in Logan, and since you can add your own location to the service to check in (I added KVNU and the 400 North Subway this week), pretty much any location is fair game.

I've had my foursquare account linked to my Twitter and Facebook accounts, so every time I check in at a location, an update is sent to my friends about where I'm at. It looks like this:

For the past few days, immediately after one of these updates is posted, I get comments posted from friends asking me why I'd want people to know where I'm at all the time. There's even a website called Please Rob Me that is dedicated to the phenomenon of "oversharing."

People think I'm nuts for participating in this service. Maybe I am. 

The reason I'm trying out the service is because if you're in the fields of marketing or communications, or if you're a businessperson who tries to maximize the use of social media, I think it's critical that you become familiar with emerging technologies and services, know how they work, understand why people are using them, and try to use them to your maximum advantage. I'm doing recon, basically. 

Certainly, this is toeing the line of "oversharing," if there is such a thing, but everything we do online right now, as far as sharing information, would make someone from the 1950s scream outrage over the lack of anything private. Plus, for me personally, I'm not worried about getting robbed because, let's face it, people know I'm not home during the day, they know when I'm on the radio, my life is very public as is.

There are probably some good uses of foursquare, especially if it catches on, and especially for businesses. It could be a great way to interact with your "power customers" and provide coupons, specials, promotions, etc. For example, Pounders Hawaiian Grill is doing a foursquare event this week where they want to get upwards of 50 customers to come to their North Logan location, "check in" on foursquare, and get meal upgrades for free if they do check in on foursquare. This promotion is done at little to no cost to Pounders, and helps customers of Pounders who are also on foursquare feel closer to the business. I believe customer/business intimacy is critical. It's a win.

But overall, while I'm exploring foursquare, I don't care for the service. But I didn't care for Twitter at first either, and also hesitated switching from MySpace to Facebook. I thought both were fads, and I was proven wrong. I will never say an emerging social media concept is "just a fad" again, because you never know what users (especially young people) will grow to love and use, and as businesspeople, we need to stay on the cutting edge or get left behind.

So this is, in the end, my long-winded response to the people who keep asking me why I'm using foursquare. I'm just giving it a try. And if you want to come rob me when you see that I'm at school or at lunch, by all means, be my guest. I hope you enjoy my XBOX. 

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