I’ve been fascinated by the rise of Foursquare, particularly as it’s still in its relative infancy in the UK. For those who aren’t familiar, it’s an app which runs from a Blackberry or iPhone, allowing you to ‘check in’ to different venues in a city – highlighted by your phone’s GPS on a Google map. Once you’ve checked in, you can gain badges according to how many times you’ve been to that particular venue, whether it’s a city centre, café or gallery.
Ultimately you can become the major of that location, and certain savvy retailers or cafes are even starting to lay on exclusive Four Square offers to reward check ins (I’ve only seen this available in one part of London so far). As well as that you get to see where all your fellow geek friends are, and track them down on a night out – as if they really wanted you to…
So far, so good. What’s particularly great and exciting is that it’s a hybrid of a social network and an online game, and represents arguably the future of social media. It’s also great for marketeers, and presents great potential for location-based campaign activity. In fact, I’m writing up a proposal right now for a national bar chain using exactly this technology – what a great way to build buzz around a particular venue and reward loyalty.
But unless I’m missing something, the software isn’t quite there yet, and the same goes for the proposition. But, there’s nothing stopping you from checking into random venues when you’re nowhere near them. There’s tons of venues not on there, which is admittedly changing, but more annoying is the masses of ambiguities with venues, for example, the same branch of Starbucks can be featured numerous times with slightly different spelling.
And all this is before I mention the great big elephant in the room that is people robbing you blind while you happily go about your check-in check-out business – as demonstrated by the inevitable site Please Rob Me.
It’s massive in the states as you’d expect, and I’d love to see how people use it over there, where it’s getting much closer to tipping point. But for now, I’ll remain content in being Major of Virgin Active.