There have been more popular apps, but it’d take some research to find any location-based social tools that have taken the world by storm like Foursquare. When I first started using the app mid-2010 it was coming up on 1 million users worldwide. Now I sit here and type in amazement at the apps user base surpassing the 10 million mark. Despite competition from Gowalla, Bright Kite and even Facebook the company has exceeded several critics’ (myself included) expectations.
This is in part due to several things: 1) Foursquare is fun. The check-in game is set up to ignite competition. They have a points system set up that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, but keeps us compelled to climb of the leader board on a daily basis, all the attain the highest honor Foursquare offers, 2) The mayorships. Several things come with the mayorship of a location: bragging rights, the chance to leave your mark on an area and it’s surroundings, a way to make new friends, but most importantly…
3) The specials. In this age of daily deals and economic woes perhaps the most attractive utility for both users and businesses is the specials option. It’s convenient for instances in which someone who is new to the area can find great deals on highly recommended locations and the heavy-going local who earns the coveted mayor special that so many locations offer. Many businesses and locations have caught onto the specials phenomenon, but I can’t help but wonder if we’ve reached a point where too many have.
I recently went through a list of my Foursquare friends, much like Mr. Barkowitz did in his research (except I can’t yet bring myself to burning such a bridge as a complete stranger who friended me because I was the mayor of somewhere he or she had visited), I asked a few of my friends how they would feel about specials as of late.
- Person #1: “ I like that I can check into my favorite restaurant and receive benefits for doing so, but I don’t like that they keep those benefits the same. It’s like they set it up once and ignore it”
- Person #2: “Its overwhelming sometimes going somewhere and checking on all the area specials, and you never know which one’s the best.”
- Person #3: “I’ve actually gone to a place that had no idea they had a special. We had to wait 15 more minutes for them to clear it with the upper management.”
- Person #4: “I really admire the creative ones, the ones that offer free product or service for doing something in addition to a check-in. They think outside the box, I like that.”
- Person #5: “I can’t help but wonder sometimes if it’s bad for business. I mean what if a group of 30 people come in with smartphones? Are they making any profit?”
In summation, is Foursquare specials reaching the point where it’s a necessity for a business in order to survive the social world, or is adding another special just adding another pawn in the pool of chaos. I particularly like person #3’s response, there are creative ways at using Foursquare specials, but so many businesses out there don’t know how to create an effective special (like Great Clips; check-in and learn about special coupons and offers through their WEBSITE? Really?! That’s like adding a middleman…) and it’s causing clutter. The good ones are lost, and the bad ones turn people away. I’m not sure where the future of Foursquare is heading, it’s surpassed every expectation I’ve had thus far. However, if the opinions of the previous testimonials and those of Mr. Barkowitz are the foundation of several more to come, you might wanna reconsider Gowalla.