Foursquare is an emerging mobile network that connects people and places through mobile phones. While it isn’t the only player in the space, Foursquare does appear to be the game to beat. The 800 pound gorilla is Facebook Places but other geo-location nicheworks are also growing including Loopt and Gowalla. Each equally bring together the real and virtual worlds, unlocking the world around consumers through checkins and supporting gaming mechanics and social effects integrated into the experience. Foursquare has blazed the trail and as a result, it’s rewarded with escalating consumer adoption and engagement.
In July 2011, Foursquare announced that it had surpassed 10 million users. While that number may seem paltry in comparison to Facebook’s recently validated number of 750 million active users, Foursquare’s state is indicative of its potential and also reflective of the future of geo-location networking. Where we are and where we’re going are potentially divergent, but history dictates our present. Foursquare is growing rapidly and that counts for everything at the moment.
To mark the milestone, Foursquare released a telling infographic. To better tell the Foursquare story, I dissected the infographic into stages.
From Zero to 10,000,000
Just two years into its endeavor, Foursquare hit 10 million users. In comparison, some estimate that it took two years for Twitter to reach one million users.
Foursquare is known for sharing interesting facts. Here we see that 4.7 million people have checked into a “Main st” across the U.S. In two years, 169 countries were visited by U.S. users. Quite telling in terms of international adoption, there are over 358 million checkins outside of the U.S. I remember a time when I would travel internationally and would have to add every location I visited. I’d often hold mayorships for months all over the world. It didn’t last very long however. I don’t believe I hold any international mayorships now.
I believe that one of the most valuable achievements of Foursquare and also services such as Yelp and Groupon is the creation of a new layer of engagement and relationships between local businesses and patrons. Foursquare reported the most popular chains across the U.S. Foursquare breaks out checkins as follows:
Bank of America
Happiness is a metric worth measuring and as such, the Foursquare team did not disappoint. The team spotlighted three cities, London, New York, and Hong Kong to open a window into the sentiment associated with each checkin. The blue pixels represent varying states of awesome, happy and okay. To the contrary, red represents shifting emotional landscape ranging from black to sucks to wtf. Interestingly checkins with “yay” outnumber “ugh” 6 to 1.
Even though Foursquare means business, it is an incredibly personal tool. As demonstrated with these telling facts, weddings and births are not beyond the checkin. To date, over 1,000 birth announcements were published in hospital checkins. Speaking of new beginnings, between parks, churches, and city halls, over 6,300 weddings checked in to Foursquare.
Each day, 78,000 mayors are ousted. I know, because I’m one of them. However, only 1 real world mayor exists on Foursquare. That honor goes to @MikeBloomberg, Mayor of City Hall, NYC.
The Games Businesses Play with Customers
Boomers and Generation X will remember the days when the Yellow Pages was the encyclopedia of local business. Now services such as Foursquare bring the Yellow Pages alive. Add to the fact that the people we know and trust share their experiences and endorsements or critiques with every checkin, we’re given access to something quite remarkable. Additionally, businesses are given a special opportunity to learn more about the people who are checking-in and also about those who are not. Foursquare offers a powerful set of business tools that can help local businesses, chains, destinations, you name it, more effectively connect with the people who can not only keep them in business, but grow it as well.
Indeed, 10 million users isn’t comparable to the numbers published by Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or YouTube. But, the insight that stems from how millions of people experience businesses, brands, and the world around them is priceless. There’s much to learn from studying relevant behavior even if it means engagement isn’t yet necessary. However, what businesses can learn is nothing short of a formula for future relevance, improved sales, and the creation of more meaningful experiences that yield loyal relationships with networked consumers. Either way, if you’re a venue owner or a brand, isn’t it time to checkin to the future of business?
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