Surprisingly, I was speaking to someone who is quite into social networking who didn’t “get” Foursquare. He saw it just as spam and a track, I see it as so much more. I won’t name and shame, but let’s see if I can get this acquaintance (and hopefully you) see the positives of Foursquare.
It was initially started as a mobile phone app for NYC (yes the Big Apple), and it transforms the way you enjoy not just exciting foreign destinations, but also your own home town. It is a combination guide, game and social networking application. I don’t know anyone who is “into” the whole points thing past their first week of Foursquaring.
Where its strengths lie isn’t in just telling someone where you are, it allows you to find out what venues are “trending” (read going off), to find popular locations with the locals, and must sees that are near by. On top of this, it gives you advice, entered by people you know (as a first preference) on what to order, where to park, what to avoid and how to get there by public transport. Imagine a Good Food Guide or a Lonely Planet Book, but with up to the minute information. That is the power of Foursquare. Also, more and more venues are offering Foursquare benefits. Eg, check in, buy a book and get a free coffee, buy one main, get one entree free, be the mayor at the end of the month and get free cocktails, free meal, voucher etc.
You can also use Foursquare as a search engine to find a great tapas restaurant, places with free wifi etc – you name it – if you can tag it you or tip it – you can find it, even providing you with a nifty Google Map.
Queensland Tourism have just got on the Foursquare bandwagon, with their Shine program. They have listed 50 must see/must do places in the Sunshine State (though they missed a LOT of awesome Central Queensland locations). There is information when you log in there (not to the level or interest that the History Channel has done in the States, but it is a start). Furthermore, if you are into collecting the badges, then after 5 checkins, you receive the spanky new “Shine Seeker” badge.
But why I love Foursquare? With push activated, it tells me things as I walk down the street. For example, I couldn’t make up my mind where to have breakfast one morning, opened the app and recommendations popped up. I found one that spoke of an awesome vegetarian breakfast at a cafe about 250m from where I was standing and headed there instead of the greasy spoon places I was surrounded by.
Obviously, it means that people can find you. Just yesterday I was in a certain Superstore which I knew that a friend was visiting later in the day, yet low and behold he checked in shortly after I arrived. We worked out where to meet, and then ended up running into more friends, a spontaneous few hours of laughter, lunch and hilarity ensued – totally due to Foursquare.
Discover new places and things to do.
Run into people you like.
Know what to order and what to avoid.
Become the mayor of your favourite place for great prizes.
People can spam without adding anything useful.
People can find you when you don’t want to be found (you can hide your location).
Only as good as what is put into it.
I would like to suggest this unwritten rule (now written rule) for Foursquare, if you aren’t going to add a comment, don’t Tweet where you are.
As I said, it is only as good as what you put into it, so if you love somewhere, tell the world with a tip.