Thursday, June 17, 2010

Confessions of a Closet foursquare User

I’ll admit it; I’ve turned into a foursquare addict. I’ve been keeping it hidden. My account isn’t connected to Facebook or Twitter. First, there are the obvious privacy issues and risks coinciding with a program designed to tell people where you are, and where you aren’t, at all times. On top of that, I’ve seen the derogatory comments in response to Twitter posts like “Jimbo just became mayor of the Parking Garage.” Even I find those updates annoying and agree with the “Who cares?” sentiment. But when I blurted out “Suck it, Pierre!” in the middle of a crowded deli line after ousting him as mayor, I realized I was hooked.*

Now it’s affecting my plans and decision making. I have to go back to certain places often enough to keep mayorships there, but I need to go to new places too. I went to a different ATM this morning because no one had set up that location yet. I have to go to the diner because someone ousted me as mayor, and I have to take it back. When I go see Toy Story 3 this weekend, I have to go to a specific movie theater, because with 1 more visit, I think I’ll become the mayor. That will be my ninth mayorship, and I’ll only need one more after that to get my Super Mayor badge. Competition and little trinkets make me happy. Don’t judge me.

As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, discounts and freebies make me happy too. That’s where foursquare comes into play for marketing purposes. It’s not terribly useful for general advertising. You have to be very close for a place to show up in your list of options. There is a “Special Offer Nearby” feature. Starbucks seems to have a stranglehold on this, offering a free coffee to the mayor of a location. In a business that thrives on repeat visits, that’s the way foursquare marketing can work. Give rewards to the people who come back most often, to generate recurring business. It’s effective, but it’s not for everyone. And that’s okay because I’ve got my eye on a free coffee.

*Names have been changed to protect my foursquare nemesis.

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