Checking in on Foursquare

FoursquareFoursquare is marking its second birthday on March 11. I’m not sure what that equals in human years but in social networking platform years it means it’s high-time for this location-based company to grow up and make something useful of itself. Or, are we expecting too much from Foursquare, after all, have their social media siblings YouTube, Facebook and Twitter truly figured it out yet?

Foursquare may actually be on the verge of growing-up, the big question is, what does it want to be? In a recent interview with CNBC, C.E.O. and co-founder Dennis Crowley shared that the company has 6.5 million users (an increase from 100,000 a year ago) and 2 million check-ins each day. He reported that Foursquare would be expanding into five languages including Japanese, French, German, Italian and Spanish. Those numbers are nothing to sneeze at, but with any metrics the big question is, how many of those people are active users?

Foursquare: a platform for experimentation

If nothing else, Foursquare has become a platform for brands and their agencies to learn, explore and experiment with the concept of location-based marketing. Foursquare’s check-in leaderboards, mayorships and badges seem like gimmicks now more than ever. Marketers are looking for more mature and sustainable methods to attract customers and maintain relationships through loyalty programs which they can control. Foursquare will be challenged to find that ‘special something’ that provides a true value its users can’t live without.

Will Foursquare check-ins ever become part of people’s behaviour as they move through their daily lives, or will businesses and their customers evolve to emerging technologies such as Near Field Communications and Geofencing to provide location-based services such as auto check-ins and mobile offers? I am checking in to locations much more sporadically now.

Only 4 per cent of online adults use location-based services

In a widely distributed report released in November 2010, the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life project found that only four per cent of online adults use location-based services and only one per cent use these services to share their location with friends. The survey was completed before the release of Facebook Places so it will be interesting to see an update of these numbers later this year.

However, despite the low numbers there is no turning back now. Location will definitely be part of the mobile marketing mix moving forward. How will we be using location in five years?