Robert Beerworth Team : Web Strategy Tags : Social Media Marketing

Further observations of FourSquare

Robert Beerworth Team : Web Strategy Tags : Social Media Marketing

I’m another month or so into FourSquare and it has certainly become an app I “use” at least once or twice a day.

My blog however, questions why. And genuinely, I have no idea of why I use the application because except for superficial gratification, it provides very little in return for my time or commitment.

Let me start by making it clear that I understand the possible benefits of FourSquare and other geo-location applications: you can track your friends and their locations around town and they can track you (if that sounds like a benefit). FourSquare allows for very geo-targetted advertising which is great, it allows you to read tips and comments from other users that have visited a location. And it allows you to receive offers from businesses targetting FourSquare users: buy a main meal, get a free beer etc.


That hasn’t been my experience, at least not in Australia. There are hints of the benefits, though the void between me (user) and those benefits seems great at this point. It may well improve, though at the pace the void seems to be closing, it will be some time before I can say that FourSquare is in the club of Twitter or Facebook, at least as apps, services and gratification are concerned.

The principal issue is that we are Australia. I read that there are 60,000 FourSquare users in Australia, though I seem to only know a handful of them. Of my handful, only a handful use FourSquare with any frequency.

Of the FourSquare ‘checkins’, they are from obscure, innoculous places. Highways, airport lounges and parks. I am guilty of the same.

What this means of course, is that unless I am having a coffee on the same highway, at the same time as my handful of distant contacts, FourSquare will never connect me and a friend for a beer or coffee.

Of late, I have been pushed some offers from advertisers, though these are very few and far between. In one instance, the offer was utterly unobtainable: I would need to be the mayor (in this instance, of a crappy steak restaurant) to receive a free glass of champagne. I wouldn’t go to this place ordinarily and I certainly wouldn’t go there (‘check-in’) enough times, just to redeem a free glass of bubbles. If the offers increase (and I am seeing them slowly do this), offers might become a compelling offer, though not yet.

As for the tips and hints about different locations: they’re just too random to be of any use. I certainly don’t rely on FourSquare for information/tips on locations, especially when all I can find was that the highway was “really busy this morning”, a month ago.

So why I am I still using it?

A few reasons, I think.

Firstly and mainly, to be seen to be doing it. I am afterall, in this industry.

Secondly, to add mayor badges so that it appears – or will one day appear – that I am an early adopter, and one that ‘got’ the technology before others. I’ve just unlocked the Super Mayor badge and while I can say that I have never falsely checked into a location, I have stretched it slightly. And all, just to maintain and build my meaningless mayorships! 

The third... ummmm. No idea.

I really can see how geo-locations will work one day, though when you don’t have many friends – and most of your friends are on highways complaining about traffic – FourSquare is a long way away from becoming mainstream in Australia. I’m thinking many, many months, and not less.