I recently read an article in the New York Times about major changes being made to FourSquare. I’ll read anything about social media and social-sharing sites because I have a genuine interest in the field, but when it comes to these sites, I spend most of my time on what have become my “top three”: Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Foursquare is one social-sharing app that has eluded me. Actually, it’s probably been me that has been dodging Foursquare. The idea of “checking in” at locations to earn badges and vie for mayorship has never really appealed to me. Maybe it’s the fact that I don’t consider becoming the “mayor” of my local bakery as exciting as other people do.
Plus, when Foursquare check-ins pop up on my Facebook news feed or Twitter timeline, it’s kind of annoying. This image accurately captures my feelings when I see Foursquare updates:
When I see tweets like these:
Or Facebook posts like these:
I can’t help but cringe a little. And it looks like I’m not alone. Within the past year, the number of people checking in to Foursquare has dropped dramatically. When people were asked, “How often do you check in to location-based services such as Foursquare or Gowalla?” the percentage of people answering “sometimes” dropped 18% within the past year. The percentage of people answering “almost never” increased 18%. Less and less people are checking in.
And yet, the New York Times article on the overhaul of Foursquare intrigued me. Here’s how Foursquare is changing:
- Foursquare will now have an “Explore” option, which will function like a recommendation service and offer suggestions on places to go.
- These suggestions will be location-based (of course), and they’ll also be personalized, based on past check-ins and the check-ins of friends.
This sounds like an app that I can get on board with. This change is a smart move for Foursquare given the dwindling popularity of the check-in. I think any company that can make major changes to adjust to the needs and desires of its target audience is a savvy company. The ability to adapt to and tune into customer conversations are skills that not every company has. After reading the article, I proceeded to check out the Foursquare blog. Another thing I can get on board with? Creative branding like this:
Foursquare partnered with (RED) and Starbucks during the month of June. Whenever someone used Foursquare to check in to a Starbucks, Starbucks donated $1 to The Global Fund to fight AIDS. This kind of global, humanitarian initiative makes Foursquare a brand that stands out among others. It makes Foursquare’s motto (“Foursquare is about helping people make the most of where they are”) a reality and not just a catchy tagline. Any company, product, website, or app that commits to living its motto is one that I admire.
Something else I found on the Foursquare blog that I admired: a unique, engaging contest.
To enter this contest, I would have to follow the International Olympic Committee on Foursquare and then check in to two different athletic locations (yoga studios, gyms, hiking trails) before June 25.
Foursquare is offering tickets to the 2012 London Olympic Games through an innovative and original contest that encourages people to be active in a variety of fun ways. That is exactly the type of marketing strategy every company can aspire to use.
Foursquare’s recent overhaul and creative marketing have won me over. As of 3:00 PM this afternoon, Foursquare is now on my iPhone. The next step: entering the London Olympics contest. If I can somehow get those tickets to the 2012 Olympics, I’ll be singing the praises of Foursquare for years to come.