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Why Foursquare Is The Next Social Network

foursquare.jpgIf you’ve been following me on Twitter for any length of time you’ve recently seen some funny updates like, “I’m at LAX Terminal 3” or “I just became the mayor of Finnegan’s Wake on @foursquare”.  Some people know what this is, most do not.  These updates are being pushed over to Twitter from the new social network Foursquare, a service that I signed up with a couple of months ago.  I believe it is the next service to watch, and I want to tell you why.

First of all…I referred to Foursquare as a social network, but inside the business walls I’ve been calling it a “location aware ad platform”.  There are implications and advantages for both the average user as well as business, and I’ll break it down for both after a brief introduction.

What Is Foursquare?

Foursquare It looks like a social network that you use from your phone.  The premise is simple: when you are out on the town you can “check in” to different locations in selected cities (although soon to be available everywhere) and it will push an update out to your friends.  “Friends” can be represented by several groups, the most intimate of which are those that you have friended on Foursquare itself.  You can also link your Foursquare account to Twitter and Facebook to send updates to your friends/fans/follower and associates there.  Once linked, you don’t necessarily need to ping these networks, I opt to keep about 2/3 of my Foursquare check-ins within the Foursquare network.

After you have checked in at a venue several things happen.  First, it will allow you to click through to some more information about the venue…showing tips that are added from other users, people that have been there recently (or are there currently) and a link to a map on Google.  It also shows nearby tweets, which is kind of cool for finding people in your neighborhood.  The crowning glory of Foursquare (pun intended) is in the form of mayorship…if you check in to a venue more than anybody else you become “mayor” of that location.  It will automatically ping Twitter that you have become mayor, and if you are stealing the mayorship from somebody it names them as well.

There are currently apps for iPhone and Android and “other devices” but really these are the two biggies.  If you have one of those phones, download the app now, add me as a friend, then read on. You can also find answers to most of your questions directly from the fine folks at Foursquare here.

For Users

FoursquareIf you want a fun, active social network to be a part of, Foursquare will fit the bill for you.  It’s really easy to add friends, and the home screen will show you updates about where your friends are and what they are doing (if they are putting up tips).  The best part? The competition.  By nature I think most people like to compete, and becoming the mayor of a venue, especially a favorite neighborhood haunt, gives you some cred.  It’s a lot of fun to constantly be fighting for mayorship (I’m trying to stay on top of M80 but am currently ousted….dang….) and a good way to keep tabs on your friends.  A bit stalker-ish? Perhaps, but it’s fine if you keep your friends list restricted to people that you really are friends with.

For Businesses

Foursquare

The possibilities for a tie-in with businesses are restricted only by your imagination.  There is a pretty cool program that you can opt in to for special offers to users of Foursquare, and honestly I think it’s effective. I was in San Francisco recently eating at a local Thai restaurant.  I checked in on Foursquare and was greeted with a small message that let me know there was an offer nearby.  I ended up going across the street to Froots and checked in for the first time…and received a free bowl of frozen yogurt as a reward.  Another example…I checked in to the a small restaurant and was told about an offer “just around the corner” from a theater that was going to give me a drink for free, just for showing the screen.

If you are  a business, big or small, think about what this means to you…you now have the ability to not only know who your customer is, but where they are.  Wouldn’t it be nice to know about a potential customer in your neighborhood? Wait for them to check in, then give them an offer they can’t refuse.

Why You Should Join Foursquare

I have no association with Foursquare, but I can recognize a good thing when I see it.  They have created a service that combines some key ingredients to be a viral-like social network (it’s easy to use, and it allows you to share information with your friends) and have built it upon a platform that can be beneficial to regular users and businesses.  Honestly, that is rare.  Banner ads are dead.  Sponsored tweets are treated like the plague.  Location aware ads that are recommended by your friends…now that is something that can really get some traction.

Give it a shot and let me know what you think.  Add me as a friend, and if I’m in your city, let’s try to connect! After all, social networks are just an extension of our real lives, and I look forward to meeting you face to face…

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By Matt Singley

Personal: husband to Alison, father to four amazing kids. I used to live a fast but enjoyable life in Los Angeles, now I have chickens on acreage in Charlotte, North Carolina. Just a bit different. I'm an advocate for cycling as much as you can and eating as cleanly as you can afford. Professional: I'm the CEO of Singley + Mackie, a creative digital agency that serves well-known lifestyle and entertainment companies around the world. Clients include Microsoft, Samsung, Hulu, YP and others. If you want to find the more-professional me, go to http://singleymackie.com