Douglas Lin
Mar 25, 2010

Five things you need to know about: Foursquare

Douglas Lin, head of digital planning at BBDO/Proximity in Singapore, tells us five things we need to know about geo-location based social network Foursquare.

Five things you need to know about: Foursquare

1. The space is going to get more crowded, but it won’t matter.

Foursquare, Gowalla, Yelp, etc are the market leaders. But with Twitter’s recently announced @anywhere API based location feature, and the upcoming announcement by Facebook, platforms emphasis will become less important as more players enter the fray. This is because open APIs are now the norm. Regardless of the platform - distributed content models will allow users to view, engage, and participate from within their preferred platforms.

2. Brands and traditional agencies will struggle to understand the channel.

Retailers have been the early adopters, utilising incentive schemes to promote engagement. But brands will need to understand that just because a user “checks in” to a nearby location, doesn’t mean they are your target audience for an offer. As the space matures, demographic and psychographic information will start allowing marketers to more accurately segment and target influencers through to prime consumer prospects. Location will become just another (albeit very powerful) attribute for marketers to better target their audiences.

3. As with all social media, it’s less about the technology and more about user behaviour.

Geolocation based services have existed for the last few years with the introduction of GPS on handsets and cellular triangulation (users location based on mobile tower positions). The technology has not caused the recent boom in attention, rather it has been the adoption of game-play, competition, incentives and sharing – behaviours people are already utilising in the social media space. A successful strategy, and understanding user insights are still paramount in utilising a mobile tactic within these platforms.

4. Experiential to drive adoption and engagement.

The most successful and interesting case studies to date stem from controlled environments with geographic and time based constraints.  Similar to Twitter’s rise in adoption and usage around events, Foursquare has utilised influential conferences like SXSW to promote as well as demonstrate the power of the platform.

5. Don’t forget what you have already learned in social media.

The same rules apply - research, measurement, insights – test initiatives and allow users to refine and define engagements. Utilise the communities you have already established, and think beyond a campaign. Be prepared for ongoing monitoring, ongoing content development, and platform evolution – and the costs and requirements these will require. Being first in-market, isn’t always the goal if you are the first to be forgotten.

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