I have had a lot of conversations recently with different people both online and offline about foursquare. Sometimes the conversation is prompted by me taking out my phone (I have the Motorola Droid) to check-in to a venue. I often ask business owners if they are engaging in social media, and I specifically ask about facebook, twitter and foursquare. Other conversations I have had about foursquare are started by others who find it frustrating or think it is a waste of time (and usually go on some sort of rant via facebook or their own blog, etc.).
I happen to agree that foursquare can APPEAR to be a waste of time (and in reality BE a waste of time) if businesses are not aware (and many are not) of what foursquare is, and how it can benefit them.
So to rewind and answer the question posed in the title of this blog post I am copying and pasting a few selections directly from foursquare‘s web site here.
What is foursquare?
Foursquare is a mobile application that makes cities easier to use and more interesting to explore. It is a friend-finder, a social city guide and a game that challenges users to experience new things, and rewards them for doing so. Foursquare lets users “check in” to a place when they’re there, tell friends where they are and track the history of where they’ve been and who they’ve been there with. For more information on how foursquare works, see our searchable FAQ.
When was foursquare founded?
Foursquare co-founders Dennis Crowley and Naveen Selvadurai met in 2007 while working in the same office space (at different companies) in New York City. Working from Dennis’ kitchen table in New York’s East Village, they began building the first version of foursquare in fall 2008, and launched it at South by Southwest Interactive in Austin, Texas in March 2009.
How many users does foursquare have?
As of October 2010, foursquare had over 4 million users worldwide.
How many businesses are offering Specials through foursquare?
Tens of thousands of venues are currently experimenting with Special Offers on foursquare. For information on how businesses can work with foursquare, check out this page.
Where is foursquare’s office located?
We have a team of around 40 employees located in the East Village of New York City.
Who are foursquare’s investors?
We’re funded by Union Square Ventures, O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz and a handful of angel investors.
See the original page with supporting photos and updated information here: http://foursquare.com/about
Now that you know what foursquare is what do you do with it?
Get foursquare on your phone!
First things first – let’s get foursquare on your phone. Your best bet is to download either our iPhone, Android, Blackberry, or Palm app. If you have another phone with a web browser, you’re best off using mobile website.
If you have a phone that doesn’t have a web browser, you can use our SMS shortcode to check-in by sending messages to 50500 (like this: @ Ace Bar ! enjoying happy hour). Sorry, but this works in the US only for now.
Check-in to places
People use foursquare to “check-in”, which is a way of telling us your whereabouts. When you check-in someplace, we’ll tell your friends where they can find you and recommend places to go & things to do nearby. People check-in at all kind of places – cafes, bars, restaurants, parks, homes, offices.
You’ll find that as your friends use foursquare to check-in, you’ll start learning more about the places they frequent. Not only is it a great way to meet up with nearby friends, but you’ll also start to learn about their favorite spots and the new places they discover.
Share your experiences with friends
Think of foursquare as an “urban mix tape.” We’ll help you make lists of your favorite things to do and let you share them with friends. Think beyond your standard review – we’re looking less for “The food here is top notch” and more for “Go to Dumont Burger and try the most amazing Mac and Cheese ever.” Foursquare will keep track of the things you’ve done, help you create To-Do lists and even suggest new experiences to seek out.
As you check-in around the city, you’ll start finding tips that other users have left behind. After checking-in at a restaurant, it’s not uncommon to unlock a tip suggesting the best thing on the menu. Checking-in at a bar will often offer advice on what your next stop should be. Every tip you create is discoverable by other users just by checking-in.
Earn points and unlock badges!
Every foursquare checkin earns you points. Find a new place in your neighborhood? +5 points. Making multiple stops in a night? +2 points. Dragging friends along with you? +1.
And as you start checking-in to more interesting places with different people, you’ll start unlocking badges. There are badges for discovering new places and for traveling to far away places. Spending too much time singing karaoke or been hitting the gym consistently? Yes, there are badges for those too 🙂
Become the mayor! Unlock some freebies!
We all have our local hangouts and foursquare keeps tabs on who’s the most loyal of all the regulars. If you’ve been to a place more than anyone else, you’ll become “the mayor”… until someone else comes along and steals your title.
It may sound a little silly until you see the list of places that are offering freebies to our mayors – free coffees, free ice-cream, free hotel stays – it pays to be a foursquare loyalist and check-in whenever you go!
See the original page with supporting photos and updated information here: http://foursquare.com/learn_more
So in a nutshell foursquare is a GPS-based tool you can use with your phone to “check-in” to a location, add a location and also see where your friends are checked-in. You can provide tips/reviews and read tips/reviews left by others about places they have checked-in. You can earn badges and mayorships as you accumulate check-ins.
If you are a business owner you can use foursquare to promote the mere existence of of your business, encourage check-ins through the use of specials and badges (there is a significant cost associated with creating a badge) and of course connecting with and engaging your social media savvy customers in this channel as well as twitter and facebook (where status updates can also be shared).
FourSquare is many things including:
- foursquare is a game (collect badges, compete for mayorships, earn specials)
- foursquare is a social media channel (similar to twitter, facebook, etc. and can tie in to these sites as well)
- foursquare is a review tool (similar to yelp, gowalla, and tripadvisor)
- foursquare is a business promotion tool (businesses can offer specials and badges to encourage check-ins through the gaming aspect of foursquare as well as link to their own web site)
Hopefully this clears up some of the confusion as to what foursquare is. Check back here soon for: 4 Blog Posts About foursquare: Part 2 – Who Should Use foursquare?