Places, places, everyone

Why I’m quitting Foursquare, but your business shouldn’t…yet.


Foursquare was launched in 2009 and I was an early adapter with my friend, code name Evula. He and I worked together on an outdoor festival project and we started playing with the new Foursquare for the event.  I loved it.  The gaming of it was fun, getting the stickers and the mayorships and all.

In 2010 I conducted a series of workshops statewide for the Tennessee Arts Commission through Cool People Care.  In these five cities, talking to over 40 organizations, we discussed location check-ins both on Foursquare and Yelp and the importance of listening to those that are talking about the brand experience.  Those same concepts are perennial.

Listen to those that are talking about the brand experience.

I’ve realized that my own experience with the location apps has changed in the last five years. When I go out of town, I use Yelp and Trip Advisor.  When I want to share where I am, it’s with an image on Instagram.  I used to get notes from friends on Foursquare, but now that just happens via Twitter or Text.   When I was asked to get Swarm, I did, but it’s cheesy orange, and overall brand, looks like it was made for a 16 year old to track friends, not a professional adult celebrating the support of  local businesses.

I’ve started using Facebook Check-in and the image pop up on mobile is great – it shows photos and tells me who of my friends has been there and their comments. And I can choose  privacy options.

The Mobile Moments

I listen without fail each week to Jay Baer’s Social Pros Podcast on the Sticher App. In a recent episode, Josh Bernoff,  Senior Vice President of Idea Development at Forrester and author,  discussed where brands should put their mobile efforts, his new book The Mobile Mindshift, and how mobile is transforming the traditional customer experience.

Your business must be aware of how mobile effects your everyday brand relationship with people at all points of the circular cycle that brings numbers to your bottom line.

What is happening in your city?

Be aware of what the trends are in the city or cities that you do business in.  Be prepared to meet and listen and exchange dialog with the taste-makers in your area using the platforms they prefer.  You see, it doesn’t matter if I want to use it, what matters is. do the customers want to use it?

update July 23, 2014: the “New Foursquare”  Further evidence of their struggle. Splitting the “check in” to Swarm and the “finder” to a pink logo … Yelp and Google and Facebook will win this game. Foursquare didn’t react and innovate quickly enough.  In fact, it doesn’t look like they innovated at all, they just split the services and changed to pink… crazy.  As soon s Facebook puts their Places on Instagram, game over.

Most Popular Cities on Foursquare

New York, USA

≈ 206891 venues

104000000 check-ins

2132 specials

Washington, USA

≈ 35613 venues

19500000 check-ins

185 specials

San Francisco, USA

≈ 47369 venues

27800000 check-ins

349 specials

Atlanta, USA

≈ 43195 venues

17800000 check-ins

274 specials

See More

Steps to Take For Your Business:

Get on Google Places and listen.  Make sure your Facebook Page has the location set up. Then worry about Yelp and Foursquare/Swarm.

Our friends at  Crescent Interactive strive to have their finger on the pulse of how  location check-ins and SEO work together.  Carla Swank wrote about it.   She reminds us that Microsoft invested $15 million into Foursquare, including a licensing deal and that means Bing!

The investment was announced in February and details of the arrangement have been very quiet since then. Technology and business magazine Fast Company, however, suggests that the location data could be used in Bing searches or other Windows-based mobile products.  Microsoft also gains access to Foursquare’s real-time recommendations feature – which Swarm is optimizing now by suggesting friends and locations near a user’s current location. – Carla Swank, Cresent Interactive

Businesses need to stay on Swarm/Foursquare because it is still a listening tool to see customers checking in to your location and monitoring what they say. I personally like to keep a separate stream in my Hootsuite for Foursquare check-ins. That allows any brand to quickly and in real time, respond to people who are at your business location. For example, with a restaurant it’s cool to see the surprise of a customer that gets an immediate response form checking-in on foursquare and pushing it to Twitter. It amplifies our customer service.  I personally am done with using Foursquare. I’d rather use Facebook to check in and tag friends and upload pics of where I’m at. Plus, when I check in on Facebook, I get a really awesome summary of all my friends that have been there, who they’ve been with, their tagged pictures and everything in between. Do I really need to check in on Facebook, then again on Foursquare…er uh…I mean Swarm? The answer is no.  I abandoned Foursquare when I kept being directed over to Swarm to perform the same functions I would on Foursquare. Why do I need two apps that essentially do the same thing? Swarm does not add any value to an app that I was already on the fence about.  See ya, Foursquare….I mean Swarm. – Ryan Carter, Founder, Parachute Media, LLC

And so, much like this conversation with evula five years later, I conclude that my account will be left open only to manage client experiences, for as long as it is relevant to them.