By Jenn Riggle
Foursquare is definitely doing something right. The company announced it jumped from 1 million users in March 2010 to 4 million users in October. But after six months on Foursquare, I just don’t get it.
Even Dennis Crowley, Foursquare’s co-founder, admitted at a conference that the check-in, in itself, is “not interesting.”
Lots of retailers are using Foursquare to increase foot traffic and foster customer loyalty programs. However, the results of these programs have been mixed. Some have hit it out of the park, while others have missed the mark.
Sports Authority ran a Black Friday promotion and offered $500 gift cards to 20 randomly selected customers checking in at its stores via Foursquare. According to the retailer, the promotion saw the number of followers increase from 400 to 4,500 and check-ins increased between 5 times and 20 times.
And while Starbucks continues to be one of the top Foursquare destinations, its promotion to offer the mayors of its stores $1 off any size Frappuccino® wasn’t as successful as originally thought. While the program increased check-ins by 50 percent, customers reported having problems redeeming coupons because baristas were unaware of the program or said they only recognize paper coupons.
So why am I losing at Foursquare? Maybe it’s because I’m not good at multi-tasking with my Blackberry. As a working mom, I’m always running from work to take my daughters to swim practice and swim meets and spend my weekends completing an endless stream of errands. It seems like I’m always sitting in parking lots to check in, while my daughters roll their eyes and say, “Not again.”
Here’s why I can’t seem to get ahead:
Checking in can be painful: Sometimes I try to check in and the right location doesn’t pop up, so I type in my destination and search for it (and sometimes it still doesn’t pop up). Besides, bringing a wallet, my Blackberry and purchasing a coffee at Starbucks can be a recipe for disaster (or a spilled Gingerbread latte).
Too little, too late: When I check in at my favorite stores and restaurants, it’s very rare that I see special offers pop up. I typically find out about these after the fact. For example, I only learned about the “I Voted” badge after I voted. Maybe this is really the result of me not being a super-user. It would be great if new badges and promotions popped up when I opened up the Foursquare app on my phone.
Oops, I forgot: I’ll admit it. When I’m running into the drug store to pick up poster board for my daughter’s book report, I sometimes forget to check in. I have the best intentions, but more often than not, I forget.
Hanging out in the wrong places: Maybe I’m checking in at the wrong places (there’s not a lot going on at swimming pools). I read that Aloft Hotels recently introduced a new Foursquare page that will feature tips on destinations, along with exclusive promotions at Aloft’s bars across the country and access insider tips on the places they visit. This sounds cool and definitely worth looking into.
I’m not a power user: Foursquare seems to be something that benefits power users the most. And while I like to receive badges, there’s little chance of me becoming mayor of my neighborhood Starbucks or Target.
But the times may be changing. AdWeek reported that there are 5 million people testing a major new version of Foursquare. The new version will downplay game features like the leader board, mayors and badges and emphasize its ability to help people discover new places – challenging users to do new things that matter most to them.
If this new functionality delivers all that it promises, it can make everyone winners.