27 June 2011

Foursquare: Ready to think outside the box?

I quit Foursquare, cold turkey, on March 28th. This after a year and a half, 22 badges, and dozens of mayorships, including my client’s headquarters. Since quitting I’ve had an email about every two or three weeks telling me I’ve been ousted as Mayor of one place or another.

My biggest Foursquare accomplishment was the mayorship of a large metropolitan ad agency. Competition was fierce; it seemed like all 1,300 employees were playing Foursquare.

A couple of these colleagues even invented a fun Foursquare app, called HeatTracker, which you can read about here.

So why did I quit?

The thrill was gone. Or, rather, the thrill was merely a compulsive check in. Mrs. Ad Majorem was getting annoyed and Ad Majorem, Jr., age 4, was reminding me to check in almost everywhere we went. I realized that I was checking in for the sake of checking in.

Originally I started using Foursquare in an effort to keep up with the latest in social media. It seemed like an idea that could actually be monetized. Retailers could offer deals to regular customers who checked in on Foursquare.

Except very few did.

Check In and then Check Out

Foursquare had a couple of hopeful headlines in the news last week.

On Wednesday, Foursquare and American Express announced a deal where cardholders who check in can enjoy discounts when they check out. It’s limited to certain establishments, but Amex is hoping to appeal to consumers under 35, which isn’t their typical demographic.

Then on Friday, venture capitalists invested $50 million in Foursquare, which certainly seems to validate the Amex deal.

On Second Thought…

Maybe Foursquare will find its ideal business model. I hope so, if only because it will help other social media ventures to crack the code. The concept seems right even if no one has really leveraged it yet.

I may not be checking in on my mobile phone, but will definitely keep an eye on them.

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