As of this week (this entry was initiated March 20th), foursquare has half a million users. That is up from 400,000 last week due to intense guerrilla marketing at the South by Southwest event (SXSW) last weekend. That, in itself, is noteworthy. From what I've heard, foursquare got the jump on Gowalla last March when it spread throughout the South by Southwest community - demonstrating the power of crowds and of live viral communication. Bring a group together with a passion for social media, and you can increase your audience by 25% in a weekend. Based on a CNET podcast, it also seems that Gowalla increased its user base that weekend with many foursquare users adding that application to their smartphone portfolio.
As someone who often works from home and who has many different "social graphs," i.e., social and professional networks, foursquare has been of great interest to me as it has allowed me to stay in touch with the world beyond West 74th Street, meet new people, feel connected to a range of people and deepen my personal and professional relationships. I am also intrigued by the way in which the gaming aspect of the function affects me. By ranking people based on points and awarding points based on the number and characteristics of check-ins, foursquare brings out my competitive side and consequently influences my behavior. I feel motivated to get out, to go to multiple locations, to get to the gym because Kandace went there before work, and I want to unlock the Gym Rat badge, to check-in on my way to the subway so that I have time to capture that location. It also makes me more aware of my behavior. Until foursquare told me, I had no idea that I had been to a certain location 10 times in 30 days. I thought I went there once or twice a week. I am the mayor of Pinky Nail Salon, Fashion 74 Nails, MaxWax, Andy's Deli, Duane Reade and other local spots; this makes me aware of the fact that I frequent these place and that few other foursquarers do. And when I am dethroned, as with Duane Reade, I sense the expansion of the game's popularity. The first thing I do when I arrive somewhere is check in. The next thing I do is check my ranking.
Each day, foursquare has a unique impact on my day as I watch the way in which it influences my city, myself, and at the risk of being melodramatic, my world. I include my world because I was surprised to see how prevalent it was in Puerto Rico.
Hence, I have decided to keep a little diary of my new life with foursquare:
Saturday, March 20th, 2010
I've just returned home from a long day in Central Park, at a seminar and hanging out with a friend.
Most days that I check in at home, there is nothing trending in my neighborhood, which makes me feel like a bit of a pioneer. Today, there were two places: First, AMC Loews Lincoln Square 13, the huge multiplex theater on 67th-ish and Broadway. That makes sense. And second, a place called, I believe, Bar 460. I say, "I believe" because when I went to double check it just now, it was no longer trending, and I couldn't find it at all. Ah well, I came very close to learning of a new venue in my neighborhood.
Oh, and in going back to look for Bar 460, I saw that the AMC theater had only 5 people. So, that's trending for the Upper West Side. It could be one group of friends. Ah, and voila, at 10:45pm the movie theater is no longer trending. I guess the early show is finished.
Wednesday, March 24th, 2010
Five weeks ago, I was fresh off the Social Media Week boat (metaphorical) and freshly on the foursquare bandwagon. I was like a person who had just finished the Landmark Education Forum. My enthusiasm was so great that it was contagious. It was at that time that I had a meeting with a senior executive at a major advertising agency. In demonstrating the application - having already checked in at the location - I noted that there was one person at the agency who was showing up as present. A senior Creative executive. The Strategy executive called him to acknowledge his tastemaker status, and I friended him.
Today, I visited the agency again, and there were six people who had checked in. A six-fold increase in five weeks. I should feel good that the religion is spreading, but I am also feeling a little less uniquely "cool."
This evening, as I was walking from one nail salon (closed for the night) to another, I used the opportunity to check in. Glancing down at my options, I noticed a new location that was "Trending Now." The name seemed to be "Sunburned" something and glancing at it as I walked, I thought it was a tanning salon! My observation, therefore: it looks like folks are getting ready for the warmer weather - though I was a little perplexed given the current temperature of 50-something and a less than inspiring weather forecast.
Later that evening, when I arrived home, and my nails were dry enough to remove my iPhone from my pocket, I took another look at the name of the locale - which was still trending on the Wednesday night. It was "Sunburnt Calf." As it turns out, Sunburnt Calf is a new bar and brunch locale - an offshoot of Sunburnt Cow in the East Village and BondiRoad on Rivington Street - wherever that is - and has been open a little more than two months. Perhaps I am back in the know!
Thursday, March 25th, 2010
I've noticed that a my foursquare friends seem to spend a lot of time at airports. Is it a reflection of my group of friends, of people in general (with me as the exception), or the fact that since people have a lot of "free" time at airports they are more likely to check in. I think it is a combination with an emphasis on the latter. I've also noted that a disproportionate number of my friends seem to out of JFK - very few from Laguardia - and often fly JetBlue. Good taste. As I see them checking in at Terminal 5, I try to recall whether I was the one who set up that specific location.
Friday, April 2nd, 2010
The Museum of Natural History has been trending this week. It must be spring break. On a related note, the Shake Shack across the street from the museum has also been trending.
A new person has started checking into Pure Yoga. A man! Quite a feat since I get absolutely no AT&T coverage within the building.
Saturday, April 3rd, 2010
25 people at the SOHO Apple Store early on a Saturday morning. Could it be that early adopters of foursquare are early adopters of the iPad. I think so. Moreover, it leads me to ask: What is the ratio of Apple to PC users...
...with iPads - ok, that one is loaded
Tuesday, April 7th, 2010
I'm told that foursquare now has 750,000 users and 16 employees. (I wouldn't mind becoming #17...)
Attended a social media panel at razorfish's NY offices (SMAC) followed by drinks and plentiful bar food at Heartland Brewery. foursquare users abounded - first time for me in a while.
Whoops - almost forgot the most important bit of news! foursquare is rolling out analytics services. The implications for marketers are tremendous!
Oh, and another, Tom C. tells me that the social marketing executive for JetBlue always keeps tabs on who is the Mayor of Terminal 5 at JFK. Smart. As I said above, I think there's a lot of opportunity at airports - captive audience with time to kill away from most of their social graph.
Thursday, April 22nd, 2010
One of the more interesting things that Bonin Bough, Global Director of Digital and Social Media Strategy for Pepsi, said on a SMAC (Social Media Advertising Consortium) panel the other night was this: While historically, a huge (300,000 people, I believe and hundreds of thousands of products, I believe...) company like Pepsi would find a movement/application like foursquare to be too small to be relevant or usable, their current outlook is that they have the ability to take something like this, if it is truly interesting, and make it big. (He didn't use the word scaleable, but I felt a need to say it... like a trained reflex.) Very interesting.
I am now starting to be ousted as mayor from locations I personally created such as Penang UWS and Andy's Deli on Amsterdam. Isn't that always the case. I'm out there using it when everyone thinks I'm crazy, and then someone else gets the glory. :-)
I've noted that when I am at a networking event and another digital strategist (typically male) is using foursquare, he will "aggressively" take ownership of instructing those not familiar with it and assume that I know less than he, even if I have checked in as well. I've also noted a lot of people who seem to have some personal knowledge/relationship with Dennis or his colleagues but also have some difficulty gaining access. Oh, how I hope my plans to have dinner with him following an upcoming talk that I am co-sponsoring do not fall through. It seems to be a highly sought after privilege.
Sunday, April 25th, 2010
After discovering Burnt Calf via foursquare trending some months ago, I finally checked it out in person on Saturday. It's very close to my apartment and has bottomless brunch cocktails. However, it turns out that brunch doesn't start until noon. So we went elsewhere and sat outside on the lovely day that seems to be preceding a rainy one - still holding out hope for a 5pm tennis game.
There is a young fellow named B.H. who is the mayor of two residential buildings on CPW in the West 90s. His tip is "Live Here." Do we think he's a broker?
I've come to the conclusion that the mayor of the Central Park Tennis Center does not play tennis at all. He seems to be a runner that checks in at each venue he passes. That explains why the overseer at the courts didn't recognize him.
I have noticed that a former colleague of mine was spending a lot of time at the gym (as communicated via foursquare and, before that, facebook). She would check in at 4 in the morning and often check in twice a day. I found out today that she's a body builder! So, it wasn't that she was going to the gym before an early day at the office, she was spending 4 hours a day working out!
A few months ago, when I first heard Gary Vee speak, he asked his audience how many of them had sworn at one point that they would never have a cell phone? And how many swore they would never have a facebook account? When I heard him speak last week at the re-Set conference, he added foursquare and Gowalla to his list of things once forsworn.
Hey! Did foursquare just add back the ability to Shout Out once you're already checked in? It seems that they have.
Monday, April 26th, 2010
Can foursquare hurt your career? As a consultant, and depending upon the specific project, I often work from home and have the flexibility to work whatever hours I like - as clients who have received 3am emails will attest. However, if a client - or potential client - sees that I hit the yoga studio at 4pm or grab a game of tennis at 3, will she think I have too much time on my hands? Or will she think that I have a good work-life balance or level of discipline? This came up in a conversation today with an executive who passed on a job candidate because the applicant didn't have a lot of LinkedIn connections. Personally, I think that is a very valid and relevant assessment. When I interview someone for a job, one of the first things I do is check out the LinkedIn profile - particularly if I want to get a sense of the digital savviness of the candidate. Does use of foursquare signal that you are a vanguard or simply give out too much information?
I am convinced that foursquare needs me to reach their full strategic potential. I'm going to spend the next few days figuring out why.
Wednesday, April 28th, 2010
Oooh, I'm #15 on my list of friends this week! Usually I'm at least in the top five. Often in the top two by the end of the weekend. This can't be good.
One of my foursquare contacts (Seth H) has gone rogue on foursquare as follows: "I've subverted Foursquare to add Mitzvot in this case Sepharat H'Omer - the Counting of the Omer the days between Passover and Pentecost (Shavout.) It's 49 days so every day I try to put something clever in. I also added a check in for Shabbat. I'm still trying to figure out why I'm not the Mayor of Sephirat H'Omer as I've checked in twenty something times."
Another of my contacts likes to include little sales pitches in her posts. I'm not a fan of this approach.
Thursday, May 6th, 2010
Creepy? Maybe. Helpful? Yes. I have a business contact who lives in Boston that I want to meet with when he is next in New York. This morning he checked into Penn Station, Philly on his way to NYC. I sent him a text. This afternoon, he checked into Penn Station, NYC. I sent him a second text. This evening, we are meeting for drinks!
I would estimate that foursquare has a million members at this point.
Monday, May 17th, 2010
I've noticed that the AMC Theater and Shake Shack are often trending in my neighborhood. Could this be related to the fact that both places involve downtime in which you are waiting for something to happen - waiting for the movie to start & waiting in line... similar to why I think airports often encourage check-in.
Came home today to see lots of activity at the Beacon Theater. When I checked in at the fruit cart just south of the stage door, I noticed 47 people checked in. With a little Google sleuthing, I figured out that Fox TV is having their upfront presentation there. I then went onto Twitter to see whether attendees were tweeting about the event. Tried out #fox and #foxupfront. Indeed, they were - though very minimally relative to the number of folks on foursquare.
I then decided to take a look at who is attending the upfront. I clicked on a person and then took at look at her mayorships. It's quite amazing what you can piece together from this little bit of info. You can basically infer where the person lives, where she works, what her family status is and what her interests are. One attendee is mayor of Zenith HQ. Hmmm... a media buyer, perhaps. Another attendee is mayor of Berry Hill Elementary School, the CVS on "Cold Spring Road," LIRR Syosset and PM Pediatrics on Jericho Turnpike. Dr. House would have a field day with this stuff!
Wednesday, May 19th
I noticed that ABC had more check-ins for its upfront presentation at Avery Fisher than Fox did at the Beacon. Around 57 vs. 47. I'm assuming that it was a larger crowd - otherwise, it could mean that the foursquare population is growing over the course of and due in part to upfront week.
5 people checked into the JCC at 1am on a Wednesday morning. Strange...
Created a check-in for "Stuck In Traffic." It had to be done.
Beverage maker Pepsi has announced that it will roll out two location-based mobile campaigns to offer discounts and loyalty points to consumers who use them to patronize nearby restaurant partners.
In the first, slated to launch in mid-May, the beverage maker will roll out Pepsi Loot, an iPhone app that will use the geo-location abilities of users’ mobile phones to identify and direct them to nearby restaurants that serve Pepsi beverages, both chains such as Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, IHOP, Popeye’s, Dairy Queen and Arby’s and also participating independents with Pepsi on the menu.
Users who find these locations, or “Pop spots”, with the app and go there will then be encouraged by both mobile alerts and in-store signs to “check in”. Users that check in at three pop spots will earn “Loot” loyalty points that can then be redeemed for music downloads from Universal Music Group, behind-the-scenes video content for mobile phones from Loot featured artists like Jamie Cullum and Katherine McPhee, or discount and free-food offers from Pop Spot member restaurants.
Thursday, June 3rd
56 people were checked into Bryant Park yesterday afternoon. That's crazy! I wonder how many people are at this one square block park at any one time. A sign of warm, sunny, weather and a reflection of how fast Foursquare is spreading on this little island called Manhattan.
Tuesday, June 8th
Starcom MediaVest starting to show up on a regular basis as top trending venue during the day. 15 people today at 11am.
I have been wondering whether the Cirque du Soleil that is currently resident at the Beacon is something I would want to see. Yesterday, when I checked into a parking meter near my home, I got a pop up from Anna O. recommending it - though she did comment on the clowns, and I am more interested in the performance/acrobatics/skill elements of CdS. I will text for more info. That also reminded me that I should check the "Tips" from the Beacon for more info. The only potential downside is that people tend not to leave negative tips, so it will be a bit biased.
Slowness of checking-in continues to be a downer. I guess it's understandable given that foursquare is nearing 1.6 million users
See interview with founder Dennis Crowley from the Mashable social media Summit
Monday, June 14th, 2010
DVR'd Dennis Crowley's interview with Maria Bartiromo. Need to watch and/or record it before Time Warner Cable comes by to fix my cable service.
72 people were checked into the Twitter Conference (TWTRCON NY10) this morning. 50 people were checked in at the Tony's last night. Sometimes 4SQ alerts me to a place for me to go, or motivates me to get somewhere - such as the Internet Week Expo - but sometimes it's too late to make plans for it, or I just don't have the access, which sometimes makes me sad - I admit. Green eyed FourSquenvy.
I realized that it's probably not a good idea to check in somewhere that it's illegal to be such as Central Park at 1am. In theory, the Park police could monitor it. I know that they leave tips about venues within the Park.
I sincerely believe that foursquare could be the next facebook. According to what I've seen thus far of Dennis' interview, they do not yet have a working biz model, but are building up the audience, participation and data to have a truly powerful monetization machine (in my own words).
Tuesday, June 15th
It must be summer in Central Park because I've seen Delacorte Theater (Shakespeare in the Park) and Summer Stage trending over the last week.
Wednesday, June 16th
Today is the day that someone other than I checked into my apartment! It was the second place she had ever checked-in, the first being the cafe where we had tea. This hereby justifies - in my mind - my creating a venue for my apartment building.