March 15, 2011

Why do people use Foursquare?

The location-based social network which allows you to tell your “friends” when you “check in” to a location has 6 million users and is growing at 35,000 new users per day.

People use Foursquare for a number of reasons, e.g….

  • connect with friends
  • explore new places
  • get discounts from shops
  • earn badges for “fun”, like becoming the “Mayor” by checking in the most times

But where’s the fun? It seems to me that checking in to 4square is something you do when you’ve got nothing better to do, e.g. when you’re waiting in line for your coffee or you’re waiting for your fish and chips on a Friday night and they’re taking ages.

Or worse, when your date stands you up and you don’t want to sit there looking like a wally so you get your phone out and “check in” in the hope that you’ll become the Mayor of the Mexican restaurant you’re at. But unfortunately for you, now that Foursquare has been around for a while, you would need to check in about 2,000 times to become the Mayor. No consolation prize for you. But you might get one of the hundreds of other meaningless badges that Foursquare offers.

And if you check in every time you go to Burger King or McDonald’s, your followers all get to see that your diet is like Morgan Spurlock out of Super Size Me.

I can sort of see the appeal if you lived in Manhattan where there are about 10,000 bars and restaurants crammed into an area the size of a football field. Foursquare might make catching up with friends and bar-hopping a bit easier and more fun, but this doesn’t translate to a place like New Zealand with our vanishingly small population density.

And anyway, Facebook Places looks set to destroy Foursquare, since Facebook now has 600 million users.

Am I just being a bit thick? Or is location-based social networking really the biggest thing since Facebook?