Foursquare has been busy lately. The LBS darling released a whole slew of changes this month that proves what I have been saying all along – if you are in marketing, you should be paying attention to Foursquare.
The two-year-old platform now boasts over 15 million venues and more than 1/2 a billion check-ins amongst its 6 million users. But even more impressive than the growth it has shown, is the potential for growth that these new changes bring. So, without further ado, here’s what is new at Foursquare. And more importantly, here’s what it all means for you, the marketer.
Think of this as the equivalent of Amazon recommendations, except instead of recommending what you should read, it tells you where you should go. The value in these suggestions comes from the sophisticated algorithm Foursquare uses to make them. Before suggesting a venue it looks at:
It then serves you its best recommendations and tells you why it has chosen these for you, so that you can make an informed choice.
Why this matters: This added functionality will likely draw many new users – potentially a LOT of new users. Not everyone was able to see the benefit of keeping track of where they’ve been, but history tells us that most everyone can see the value in good recommendations. And recommendations that are tailored to your preferences – well that just makes sense. An influx of new users will also increase the activity amongst existing users, therefore making your company’s Foursquare program substantially more visible and enticing.
Also in version 3.0, Foursquare revamped its leaderboard. What’s that you are wondering? Exactly. The leaderboard was actually a pivotal aspect of baby Foursqaure and it tracked the points each user got for checking in. The goal was to create competition and to encourage people to check-in more often. This element fell by the wayside as the platform grew, so Foursquare revamped the leaderboard and its point system in this latest version of its app.
The new leaderboard lets you easily see your points vs your friends points right from your phone. It also comes with a much cooler point system that awards you for a wider variety of things. Will this refresh of the gaming aspect motivate everyone to check in more? Heck no. Will some people certainly be into it? Yes.
Why this matters: Anything that encourages more people to get out of their homes and check in to public places will ultimately be a good thing for your venue. Plus, the more active the users, the quicker the platform grows, and that’s good for you, too.
The key to Foursquare’s initial “mainstream” success was the Mayorship special that rewarded users for being the most frequent visitor to a venue. Now there’s much more. This month, Foursquare rolled out five new types of specials and a new interface to make the platform that much more valuable to businesses. Your company can now offer:
With all these new options, Foursquare also released a printable poster to help small businesses promote their special on-site and a new analytics dashboard to track the success of each campaign.
Why this matters: You now have a whole heck of a lot more ways to entice people to come to your venue. In addition to getting more people to spend money with you, these new specials allow for more creativity, which could become fodder for PR stories and will likely increase your word-of-mouth buzz as well.
Without getting too techy on you, Foursquare released its venue API to developers. While this may not seem like a direct change for marketers, it is hugely indicative of where this platform is going, and thus important to note.
Remember when Twitter just started out? After growing slowly and steadily for awhile it began to draw attention by 3rd party app developers (think Tweetdeck and Twhirl). Twitter didn’t have the capital or the brain power to develop the innovative tools that these developers did, so it gave them the API and let them do all the work. Such tools raised Twitter’s popularity immensely and made the platform incredibly more useful. Sounds like a good growth plan, right?
Well, clearly Foursquare thinks so, and the timing couldn’t be better. With the recent announcement that Twitter will no longer allow 3rd party app developers, there are a lot of: A) Pissed developers, and B) Developers looking for somewhere to funnel their genius ideas. Enter Foursquare.
Why this matters – Similar to the previous changes, this change means that Foursquare is primed to grow. With the support and ingenuity of so many talented developers, we haven’t even scratched the surface on what Foursquare could be.
The Best for Last
Foursquare is particularly excited to release this last piece of news. As of last month, the BG team has officially joined Foursquare (They’ll be issuing a press release on this any day now, I am sure).
If you’ve met us, you know we are an active bunch. We are always out and about – at a client event, a happy hour, or an industry social – and we are chock full of suggestions and tips about the places we go. So, we thought, why not aggregate our knowledge and make a profile so that you can follow our team? This way you can stalk us and come drop off your resume at inappropriate times. OR you could just check our tips and our check-ins to get our recommendations on what’s hot – and what’s not.
Either way, here’s where you can find us: http://foursquare.com/user/6839891. Hope to see you on there!