What's So Fun About FourSquare?

by Shonali Burke on July 9, 2010

In my quest to try out new social networks, I signed up for FourSquare last year (image: Richard Schatzberger, Creative Commons). I didn’t start using the service until a couple of months ago, when I got my new Palm Pre and I felt ready to dive into another social network.

FourSquare is a location-based social network.

The idea is that you share your location with your friends and followers by “checking into” locations. For example, every time I go to a restaurant, I pull up the FourSquare app on my phone, let the app determine my GPS coordinates and show me possible options.  I can select one of the venues select and “check-in” or add a new venue.

When I check in, I can write a little message and share out my update on Facebook and/or Twitter.

A few Saturdays ago, I checked into four locations, including three restaurants and I got hilarious comments from friends about how all I did on Saturday was eat!

Here’s what I’m enjoying about FourSquare:

  • I don’t feel compelled to check in multiple times a day, every day. My check-ins are usually to restaurants, but increasingly, I’m checking into events. A few nights ago, I checked into the DCWW Content Strategy Workshop held at the Matrix Group office. I check in only a few times a week, if at all.
  • I love the gaming aspect of FourSquare.  People who have the most check-ins at a specific get a Mayor badge. So far, I’ve earned a Newbie badge and an Explorer badge. I’m hoping to become Mayor of one of my favorite restaurants sometime soon!
  • It’s fun to see where my friends are and what they’re doing.
  • FourSquare is not nearly as chatty as Twitter and Facebook.
  • I have learned about so many great, local businesses through FourSquare!
  • Some enterprising retailers are rewarding frequent customers with discount coupons and other goodies. The retailers are glad for the patronage AND the free advertising from the check-ins!

FourSquare has its detractors, of course.

  • Some critics say FourSquare is just another tool for sharing TMI (too much information). Yep, I agree, some people should Just Say No to checking in everywhere they go.  Seriously, do you need to check at Planned Parenthood or the strip club?
  • On a more serious note, there are legitimate privacy and security concerns about constantly broadcasting where you are and where you are not. The Web site PleaseRobMe.com used to take FourSquare and Twitter feeds and broadcast location updates of thousands of people.  The founders of PleaseRobMe say the public is now paying attention and they’re now trying to figure out whether to continue the service.

Me? I only update during the day when I’m normally at work and yes, I have an alarm system at home that is always on when nobody is home.

And I never, ever update Twitter, Facebook or FourSquare and broadcast that I’m going to be away for an extended period of time.

As of a couple of weeks ago (June 22) TechCrunch reported that FourSquare had 1.7 M users and that it had added 100,000 users in the last 10 days.

How about you? Are you on FourSquare? What do YOU think about the new location-based social networks?

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Cross-posted with permission from The Matrix Files.

Founder/CEO and self-proclaimed Chief Troublemaker of Matrix Group International, Joanna Pineda is known for her visionary big-picture thinking and drive for excellence. Combining her broad liberal arts background and passion for technology, she started Matrix Group in 1999, today a leading interactive agency. As a trusted advisor, Joanna inspires and motivates her clients and employees alike to simply, “be better” with her mantra being: Do or Do Not. There is no try!

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