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What is FourSquare

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Foursquare - It's More than just a Game

Foursquare is a location-based service that attempts to bring the concept of gaming to social media. Foursquare encourages people to explore their surroundings and share their location information with others.

Using the Foursquare mobile application you can earn points for checking into a variety of places like restaurants, bars, and stores in a variety of cities across the world. Foursquare uses your mobile phone's location to do a local search and presents the user with a variety of locations in close proximity.

Key Concepts - How do I check-in and why would I want to become Mayor?

The check-in: In order to announce your arrival at a particular location you must first "check-in". Checking in is easy using the application and once you do so you earn points. Friends are then notified of your location (if you choose) and you have the opportunity to meet others in the same location.

Badges: By collecting points you have the opportunity to earn badges. There are badges for things like exploring multiple places in a given day, frequenting the same place multiple times in a given week, and even a badge for the gym rat (earned by visiting a gym more than ten times in 30 days). These virtual badges may sound silly, however, they help to bring out the competitive spirit in all of us. Badges tend to keep users interested and reward continued use of the application.

Mayorship: One can become the virtual mayor of a Foursquare location by frequenting that location more times than any other user. Once you become the mayor however, you must continue to frequent that location or risk losing your mayor title to someone else.

Tips: Foursquare users offer tips and hints that are associated with various places. This is a good way to give back and let people know about recommendations or certain things to avoid.

Opportunity for Local Businesses

The opportunities for local businesses actively participating in Foursquare are only beginning to be revealed. Given that the idea behind Foursquare is to encourage its users to go out and explore, the opportunity for local businesses is easy to see. Loyalty is rewarded by Foursquare and businesses have begun offering specials and discounts to virtual mayors.

It is becoming more common in larger cities throughout North America to see businesses offering mayor specials like free drinks, discounts on admission, and other perks normal patrons do not participate in. Customer loyalty is encouraged and rewarded. In return, businesses benefit from returning customers and also exposure through digital word of mouth.

Potential Privacy Pitfalls

If you use an application like Foursquare you are giving each of your followers access into your travel habits and general whereabouts. If you're concerned about such things maybe Foursquare isn't for you. Since you are not forced to share with friends, Foursquare allows you to start out as an observer until you feel comfortable sharing.

Foursquare Client(s)

Although there is a website for Foursquare, it really is nothing more than an opportunity to register for an account, view your travel history, and look for registered businesses. The real benefit comes when you combine Foursquare with a mobile application like those available for devices like the iPhone, Blackberry, and Android.

Go out and explore your city and compete with friends for points and badges. Add some of your favorite places if they aren't already listed on Foursquare. Who knows, you might just become the mayor at your favorite haunt.