All About Foursquare

This was originally posted on Ogilvy's Travel and Tourism blog.  I realize most of the people who read this blog already know about Foursquare.  But for my father ...

Foursquare

Foursquareis an interesting, fun and [at times] useful service that’s gotten some solid buzz in the last few months.  It’s the brainchild of the folks who brought us the one-time Internet service darling, Dodgeball.  I found this article from the New York Future Initiative which does a nice job of explaining the service, and the creators’ vision for what it might become.

With the ever-growing buzz, I thought you might appreciate the skinny …

What it is

Foursquare describes itself as 50% friend-finder, 30% social cityguide, 20% nightlife game, though my personal bias is that [at least for the time being] it’s more game.

How it works

A player checks in with Foursquare when they are out and about at a restaurant, bar, museum, movie theater, etc.  Checking in earns you points.  Points earn status [e.g, I was for a fleeting moment the Mayor of the Bowery Hotel Bar].  You can also earn badges for doing interesting things, like checking in at odd times or out-of-the-way places.

For now points/badges only get you bragging rights, though clearly that will change at some point [e.g., Ian checked in 5 times at Old Town Social, earning him a free cocktail].

How you "play"

Players check in via a slick iPhone app [uses GPS to find your location and things around you], mobile site and text message.  You can have Foursquare ping Twitter when you check in.

Where it works

At the time of this post, Foursquare is  available in: Amsterdam, Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York City, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Portland, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington D.C.

My recommendation

If you’ve got an iPhone, I recommend giving it a whirl - nothing to lose.  If you’re a marketer, you should take a peak under the hood so you understand the possibilities when Foursquare [inevitably] opens for [paid] business.  If you’re a business in one of the cities above [particularly in a hipster neighborhood] maybe play around with rewarding patrons for checking in from your store/bar/restaurant.

It’s not there yet, and may never be.  But I continue to hear the buzz …