February 5, 2010

This May be Blasphemy, But...

I don't get Foursquare. There, I said it. I know it's the big thing these days, but I just personally don't see the value in it for me. Everyday on Twitter I see that everyone is unlocking all these buttons, becoming mayors of places, and developing their own online kingdoms or whatever... For me, it's noise.

A usual complaint I hear from non-Twitter users is that they don't understand why you want to know what someone had for lunch today. As a Twitter user, I know that's not what people who get followers tweet about, but to me, this is almost the same thing. Why do I personally care that Joe Schmo who I'm following became the Mayor of Starbucks in Timbuktu? Why do I personally care that Jane Doe frequents Kroger in Islamabad? I don't...

Now, while I don't personally find value in the tool right now, I was thinking about how associations may be able to use it to their benefit, and as far as my sometimes small brain can tell, there may be some potential uses. Here are a few that I thought about:
  • Gathering Data on Members - Perhaps you find out through Foursquare data collection that one of your volunteers is the Mayor of his local Starbucks. You are able to then provide that person with a more personalized recognition (like a Sbux gift card) if necessary, than you would if you didn't have this information...
  • Gathering Members Together in a Regular Location - I don't know... Perhaps you are able to find out by mining the data collected from Foursquare that a large number of your members frequent the same location in NYC. Perhaps you have a networking event there since you know they're already congregating in that specific location...
  • Annual Meeting/Expo Usage - Perhaps you can use Foursquare to have members visit certain parts of your Annual Meeting or Trade Show floor by allowing people to become Mayors and unlocking buttons at specific vendor booths or rooms...
Now, the first two uses would only be good if you were easily able to gather and then mine the data from Foursquare. I don't know how easy that would be, nor do I think that many associations have the manpower (or womanpower) to do this at this point. What other potential uses are there for associations that I'm not thinking about?

So, my questions to you...

1. What am I missing about this phenomenon?
2. Why do you use it/like it so much, and what is the value add for you?

Help me understand!! Thanks as always for reading...

7 comments:

Maggie McGary said...

I don't totally get it either--but I'm trying it to see where it goes. Or let me rephrase that--I don't totally get the value for me, but I totally get the value for businesses--especially restaurants, bars, etc.

Here's an example: I go to a movie and check in. Foursquare shows me who else is at the theater--ok, well only one person because I live in the burbs and nobody uses Foursquare here much yet, but still. It shows nearby restaurants--and is hooked in to Yelp, so you can see restaurant reviews. It shows nearby tweets, so you could see if anyone you know is nearby. There is a feature called "Specials nearby" that businesses can use--for free (at least it's free now). So a message pops up that says "special nearby" when I check in and it's a coupon that says "check in at X place and get a free order of wings" or something like that. What's in it for the business? I have 50 choices when I emerge, hungry, from the theater. The savvy ones can now deliver--for free--customized push marketing to me while I'm hungry and right near their restaurant. At the point of purchase or whatever you call it. What's not to like? Well, except that not many people use it now. But the thing is that the people who do use it are most like "influencers" so when they use it and tweet about it, lots of people get curious about it. Again, at no cost to businesses.

So far there's not much value add for me personally--except that I'm the mayor of two Dunkin Donuts so if they ever start giving mayors free stuff, I'll be psyched!

Maddie Grant said...

Exactly the question we're all wondering. I wrote a blog post a few days ago (http://www.socialfish.org/2010/01/geolocation-and-other-shiny-toys.html) where I collected some interesting links from across the blogosphere about what it all could mean. I'm fascinated to see what value associations can glean out of location based apps. This is a real opportunity to think outside the box.

Deirdre Reid said...

Foursquare is purely a social thing for me. When I'm feeling social I'll check in upon arraval at a location. That way if anyone in my network sees my "check in" on their Foursquare app or on Twitter, and if they're in the same place or in the neighborhood, we can arrange to meet up. I've run into and spent some time with a few acquaintances that way.

I could see association conference or trade show hosts working with local businesses on some kind of sponsorship or advertising deal where check-ins earn discounts. Joe Waters (I believe) had a good post about possible non-profit use.

Businesses should jump on Foursquare. A few here in Raleigh have and get a lot of WOM because of it.

Kyle said...

Foursquare doesn't get you!

Seriously thought, good thoughts.

Kyle said...

That last comment is supposed to be "though" not thought.

Kyle said...

My main use for Foursquare is to figure out what all my friends are up to. Instead of texting 20 people in a given night I can just check Foursquare to find out if they are out and if so, where.

It's also really helpful when traveling. If you are in a new place you can use it as a city guide.

The biggest thing to understand is that most people don't check in everywhere, they only check in at social locations where they would want others to join them.

Bruce Hammond said...

Thanks for all of the great comments everyone! I appreciate them all.

I also wanted to just share something I saw recently that I think is relevant to this discussion... I'm sure many of you have seen it as well, but I thought I'd share an unintended consequence of Foursquare - www.pleaserobme.com.

Essentially, it's a site that is cautioning readers about letting people check in at your house... You will be freely giving out your address, and when you check in from anywhere else, potential robbers know you're not at home. And let's be honest, do we all know every person who is following us on Twitter? If so, you're better than me. What if one of those people you don't know is actually just someone trying to phish information from you?

Anyway, thanks again for the comments!

Bruce