I’ve said for a long time that Foursquare’s location based platform originally based on user check-in’s, is one of the most interesting social media applications around. An article in Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal http://on.wsj.com/IT3IVJ did nothing to dampen my enthusiasm. There’s also a video featuring Foursquare CEO Dennis Crowley on what’s next for the platform which can be clicked on from the article.
Foursquare has indicated it is planning to allow merchants to buy special placement for promotions or personalized local offers as of July. This is in keeping with the delivery of value-based promotions once a user ‘checks-in’ that Foursquare users like me have been enjoying for more than a year. I still get a kick out of obtaining a discount (free drink, appetizer, or other benefit) after I’ve already decided to go to a certain place and then check-in once I arrive. That’s real customer value. It will keep customers coming back and checking in and the special placement plans will only continue along that theme.
There are still issues – with check-ins due to the imprecise nature of GPS on smartphones. For instance I have upon more than one occasion forgotten to check in at a place I visited but did so after the fact – that is after I had left the location and had gone someplace else. While I cannot check-in to a place that’s ten miles away it seems I can check-in at a place I am going to before I get there, after I’ve left or most concerning – a place I did not go to at all.
What I am highlighting is that there has to be a general mistrust of check-in locations until the supposedly soon-to-be forthcoming (maybe July with the launch of the personalized local offers?)
improved GPS integration with Foursquare’s platform is launched. Until that time Foursquare user behavior (frequency and proximity) data will be suspect and its veracity compromised. Mr. Crowley’s point that “We are building software that’s able to drive new customers and repeat visitors to local businesses” sounds great but unless local businesses can be confident a user is actually in or within 100 feet of their business I believe merchants will be reluctant to participate.
My friends tend to snicker about my continued use of Foursquare. There are occasions when I get ‘badges’ for visiting my 10th coffee shop or 5th wine bar. What those friends fail to realize is that I am getting value far beyond the public display of a check-in which can easily be seen as self-aggrandizing.
It’s decidedly not self-aggrandizing to take advantage of discounts for places I’d visit anyway right? What Foursquare hopes is that the next level is getting me (and therefore delivering real marketing value to local merchants) to go try a new place because I’ve received an offer for a discount to a place I might never have really considered visiting.
As Garry Trudeau once had Mike offer in his wonderful strip Doonesbury so many years ago – ‘I prefer not to think of it as selling out – I prefer to think of it as buying in’.
Are you ready to buy in?