I’m Taking a Pass on Foursquare

foursquare_logo_girl-300x141There’s an awful lot of excitement about Foursquare, a mobile social media service that lets you share and broadcast your location. Based on your activity, you badges and can become the mayor of a particular location (e.g. Starbucks) by visiting it more often than other Foursquare users.

After being scolded by Robert Scoble recently for not getting Foursquare, I decided to try it out. Although my test was fairly brief, it didn’t take long to realize Foursquare isn’t my cup of tea. While I can certainly see the appeal for some people, the idea of broadcasting my location doesn’t feel right. In fact, it makes me think of George Orwell’s
“1984″ as opposed to feeling that I’m on the cutting edge of social media activity.

Hey, we’re living in a world where we’re increasingly sharing more of what we do, think, see and eat but where does it end? For me, Twitter and my blogs are the tools to share things. At the same time, I like the idea of other people not exactly knowing where I’m located and what I’m doing.

Sure, you have to submit your location to Foursquare so it’s not like your mobile device is broadcast beacon. And I get that some (many?) people may like the idea of being able to tell friends where they are and what they’re doing so they can easily connect but there are other ways to do it – Twitter and Facebook.

My lack of interest in Foursquare may be off-base, and I may be overly concerned about my privacy or the amount of information that really needs to be shared with other people, but my spider-sense tingles when it comes to the service.

Is it just me or does Foursquare not resonate with other people? Am I missing something?

More: According to CNet, Foursquare is now available in many places around the world.

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  • Drew

    Don't you think you might be jumping on the anti-Foursquare train a little quick? Your first check-in was less than 42 hours before you wrote this article.

  • Peter Childs

    Couldn't agree more.

    That said you have to appreciate the approach they have taken to social engagement as a means of generating buzz and moving users from initial trial to engagement.

  • @iOverlord

    Nope, totally agree. Foursquare and Brightkite and all those things are all great if you want to share where you are all the time, but if you're already on Twitter etc, then it is just as easy to share exactly where you are with that already, if you so desire, so having yet another account to monitor etc just seems a bit pointless to me.

  • Igor Sales

    I'm also passing on FourSquare. I don't see what's in it for me, e.g. by being a Mayor to a starbucks. I don't get a discount on the coffee or make any decisions on the store.

  • Mark McCulloch

    Once again visiting your blog for me is really a very pleasurable experience, I could not agree more with the information you have provided in this article and just to let you know I will be coming again for more.

    Mark McCulloch

  • markevans

    Well, you don't have to eat an entire pie to know that you don't like it. :) While it's true that I haven't used Foursquare very much, I've thought a lot about the geo-broadcast concept and read how people are using it – and then decided it wasn't a tool for me. Another reason may be that my social media plate is pretty full right now with Twitter, three blogs, LinkedIn and Facebook. Unless something blows me away, it's hard to jump on the bandwagon.

    Thanks for the comment!


  • Darlene

    Maybe you "don't get it" because you're not the target market.

    To me, Foursquare seems like a very neat tool, but something I would've been interested in and engaged in when I was a student.

    There's something to be said about the role demographics play in which social tools are relevant/appropriate. Do they all need to be relevant to everyone?

  • @warrickt

    I too tried 4Square – albeit for a couple of months and found that (a) I didn't really care where my friends were at any given moment, and (b) there was no utility or benefit to sharing my whereabouts. Checking in became a chore and so I did it with decreasing frequency. That said I can see someone with a ton of time on their hands and a wide social network getting totally hooked – so I am clearly not their target market. I think the intersection of location/geo, people and activities is really interesting, but perhaps a vertical use case is more useful to someone like me – maybe around a hobby or sport?

  • @Copywryter

    I use foursquare. Not rabidly, mind you. Often I check in when I have nothing better to do.

    I understand why you and others shrug it off, but it's still important to recognize their potential for revenue. Here are a few avenues: (pun intended)

    A) Allow 'mayors' to bestow coupons or other privileges on friends – like reserved seats at a theater, say.
    B) location-based advertising. Checking in to pizza A? Here's a coupon for Pizza B
    C) venue-based advertising. Checking in to a bar? here's an ad for beer
    D) Sell the back-end ontological data to Google, or Yelp.

    I see FourSquare as Mostly Harmless but easily monetized.

  • Crade Monget

    I have been on the mailing list for, you may want to consider trying that a little later. They seem to have a different valued proposition as opposed to 4square

  • @afrognthevalley

    I think you are missing the underlying point. Foursquare is just an early incarnation of adding geo to social. This is the real combination.

    Of course, controlling these two aspects is hard, especially UI wise, you don't want to scare people with facebook-like settings panel. But "fuzzy" location for larger social networks or precise location for "tighly-controlled" social graph will be huge. But maybe not a game. Maybe at first only for the "let's go out tonight, every night" crowd.

    Give it 5 years and let's review that, I am sure we will then see 4square as one of the early signs of this trend…

  • Kristen Daukas

    While *I* may not be a huge user, I am encouraging my clients (restaurants, bars, etc) to embrace it as I think it will be a great way to draw old and new customers in. This is mainly geared toward a younger, single and on the move crowd IMHO. I agree with @afrognthevalley.. just upping the game of social media.. making it more… social :)

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