While foursquare is now a three-year-old, mature, ever-growing technology startup company that has amassed well over 20 million users. Sure, it does not currently have the user base that Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn does, but it is a global company with very enthusiastic users. In fact, over 750,000 businesses are actively using the platform to engage their customers. Yet, with all of this knowledge and numerous case studies of great user and business usage, there are still many misconceptions about the location-based service. Being an avid foursquare user myself and a venue manager for many of my clients, I figured that I should take a moment to point some of these out!
Myth #1 | foursquare tells everybody your location
Foursquare actually built its platform with the user’s concerns in mind. Privacy is important to them. As a result, the foursquare user has full control over who sees their check-ins. First, the user creates his or her own foursquare friend list that is separate from their friends and followers that they may have on other social networks, so, if you do not want your friends on Facebook to see where you are at, you have control over that. However, if you do want to share your location with those friends on Facebook and Twitter, you can sync those accounts with foursquare and have the option of sharing any of your check-ins. Again, this option is provided to you each and every time you check-in. Also, let’s say you want to check-in but not show your foursquare friends. You can control that too by simply checking in “off the grid.” Second, none of your foursquare friends can check you in from their app. This is different than Facebook’s check-in setup where, by default, your Facebook friends can tag you at a specific location and share that with the world. For me, it is not a big issue, but sometimes you just don’t want your friends to be able to do that, so foursquare has you covered! [Example Check-in options shown in screen shots below: off-grid [private] check-in option (left) and share with Facebook and Twitter options (right).]
Myth #2 | only businesses with physical locations can optimize and engage with foursquare
Talk about something so far from the truth. Sure, businesses with physical “brick-and-mortar” locations can claim their venues and offer awesome specials to their loyal customers, but that is merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to business utilization of foursquare! Highly-acclaimed and international best-selling author, Carmine Gallo, provided numerous examples of this in his book entitled, “The Power of Foursquare.” Are you are brand that provides products or services but simply does not have a specific venue that customers come to? Are you a recording artist, comedian, group, non-profit organization, or online retailer? Well, foursquare allows you to build brand pages, gain followers, engage those followers, leave tips on other venues (where appropriate), and even create partner badges (although that option is not free). If you tour (as a musician or act of some sort), you can actually even add a special to the venues you are going to be at even though you are not the owner of each concert hall or expo location. If you are selling your products at festivals or at other temporary venues, you could always create a venue for your booth, offer a special, and then close it afterwards (or move it to the next festival spot). There are so many creative ways businesses can connect with their target market, and there is no excuse to not give it a glance and attempt.
Myth #3 | foursquare is only about checking in
Sure, many people sign up for foursquare and most check-in. Some will check-in infrequently while many, like me, will check-in at nearly every venue they go to! For them, it almost becomes second-nature. But, foursquare is a robust mobile [LBS] network and app. It allows people to leave tips for others to discover, build lists to share and organize, and explore local businesses in the area. On top of that, many third-party apps have been developed on top of the foursquare app, tailoring the experience to the users’ desires!
Before you rush to judgment about foursquare and what it can do for you, take a minute to explore the app a bit more. You might be surprised to see how great of a tool foursquare is… and how addicting the experience can be! Is your business on foursquare? With a little creativity, businesses can be very successful! For users, the app will help explore the local area and can be extra useful for discovering new spots while on trips!