Foursquare’s prognosis was not looking good at the beginning of 2013. Dire predictions such as, “Foursquare will fail by the end of 2013” to the even less healthy, “Foursquare- 12 Months to Live?” suggested that the geo-location app’s life expectancy was dramatically dwindling. If you aren’t one of the 33 million users out there, it may be difficult to understand the irresistible hook of the social network. Checking in at your favourite roundabout for example may seem as pointless as a bald hedgehog, but on the other hand receiving mayorship of the best restaurant in town brings with it a certain sense of delicious smugness. These nuggets lure users into checking-in and compete to rule virtually any location on the face of the planet. Those who have developed an obsession for the tool can be frequently spotted hurriedly loading up their app upon entering pubs, restaurants and beyond instead of greeting their real human friends. For my own sanity, I am not ready to accept that Foursquare will be going anywhere soon. So how long do we have to check-in before Foursquare checks out?
Foursquare’s forte is the ability to flaunt your ‘fabulous’ life in front of your chums’ faces, letting them know exactly where you are and when it’s best to burgle your house. And it’s fair to say that the brand has been receiving a certain amount of flak this year, with no-one seeming to be listening to CEO Dennis Crowley’s protestations that March 2013 was in fact the biggest revenue month to date for the company. Tunes are finally changing as Forbes’ post: “Why Foursquare’s Growth Story is Better than you think” demonstrates a slight U-turn from early January which forecasted dire predictions. So what’s changing?
The gamification aspect of the app provides incentives to keep users checking into even the most boring old dumps time and time again. Totalling up points to eventually knock friends from the top of the leader board provides an added sense of achievement. Have you returned so many times to that stale old haunt of yours that you feel like you deserve at least some sort of recognition? How about if you were made the mayor? Check in more than any Foursquarer in the land and you will swell with pride at receiving that tiny little crown icon to signal your mightiness. Oh, and don’t forget to leave a tip before you go for those who follow in your footsteps, you’ll even get a few bonus points to make it worthwhile. Make them as serious or sarcastic as you like such as these handy guidelines for taking the Glasgow subway.
This is a unique opportunity for businesses to provide rewards to those crowned for spending their hard earned dough repeatedly. Existing incentives range from free coffee, money off meals, or even special seating reserved for your mayorship. Encouraging return custom is great news for businesses and even better news for eager customers searching for free swag. Crowley further encouraged this by stating: “We’re building tools for local businesses to connect with their customers. We’re making search better every single day.” If a multitude of venues make use of these two-way incentives, Foursquare could finally flourish.
Changes to its business model are also fuelling hope. Check-in re-targeting will kick in this month, meaning that Foursquare will follow their millions of users once they leave the app, giving advertisers’ further incentives to use the platform to capture consumer’s behaviour. As a result, $50,000 – $75000 will be charged to advertisers for re-targeting and performance reporting campaigns. To follow in June, “post check-in units” on a cost-per-click basis will be offered, meaning that Foursquare will show relevant ads to consumers as soon as they check-in. The recent $41 funding from investors will also undoubtedly lead to a more streamlined user experience.
2013 has further seen new venue listings in the U.S. declining which suggests that near full coverage has been achieved across the States. Other corners around the globe are looking promising as the rapid explosion of new venues added in locations such as Brazil and Turkey flags growth. Foursquare will need to provide consistent, rich venue data in these growing regions to keep user experiences up to scratch with the U.S.
Its API has also become widely used by developers, with more than 40,000 using it for location and venue data. Taking into consideration these imminent changes, new business model, and a wad of cash, it really looks like the team have popped on their thinking caps, and it is indeed tempting to predict that Foursquare might just be swinging around its fortunes after all.
It’s comforting to know that we’re not even halfway through 2013 and Foursquare is already looking a little less peaky. Revenue is up, new users are continuing to check in, and a whole load of mayorship battles have resulted in feuds between friends – not least my current battle for Yomego Towers which has been raging in the office (an almighty eight of us have returned to Foursquare in the impressive space of a week). The compelling and competitive nature is what I believe will be key to its longevity. What’s more, the sky is literally the limit (trust me, I tried checking in), providing an almost infinite user journey. So watch out Boris, I only need 145 check-ins before I steal London’s mayorship.