Why Foursquare will survive the saturated social networking market

Alright. My last post on Foursquare for a while. I promise.

I recently wrote a piece about Foursquare and their brand partnerships and advertising potential. It elaborated on Foursquare’s current location-based capabilities – and its potential for permanently changing the online/offline corporate advertising relationships.

My digital media professor commented on my work, saying that she herself hadn’t joined Foursquare (yet) but that she also couldn’t imagine adding another social network to her repertoire.

That got me thinking. We are living in a world saturated with social networking sites and online entertainment, consuming our everyday lives. How can we afford to add one more? Why did I first join Foursquare, and continue to use it on a regular basis? Where did I find the time? What makes it so different? As Ferris Bueller’s sister would ask, what makes him so god damn special?

Well Jeanie, I think I have an answer for you.

1. Foursquare is a primarily mobile-centric network

Foursquare revolves around the ability to upload status check-ins and tips on the fly via your mobile phone. For all of us tech-savvy folks, they offer tailored apps for the iPhone, Blackberry, Android, and Palm phones. In case the Big 4 don’t cover your mobile-friendly lifestyle, they also have an easily accessibly mobile site from any smartphone. And even then, if I dare to suggest you do not have a smartphone, you always have the option to text in your status update.

The bottom line is this network is predominantly used on the go when people are not busy with anything else, making it a seamless addition to your social media catalog. Apart from the 18 seconds it takes to locate yourself, participating in the Foursquare network does not take time away from any other network, or from any other aspect of your life.

2. Foursquare functions on a need-only basis

How many hours do you spend quantum leaping from one Facebook profile to the next? Or skimming your 450-following Twitter feed to absorb every last element of real-time thoughts? How many “related videos” can you click on YouTube before that wolf-eating-a-mammoth-eating-a-snake viral turns into you watching the next Twilight trailor? Ok, maybe that’s just me.

Foursquare is not a network where you expend unlimited amounts of time browsing users’ profiles. It runs on a need-to-know platform. You’re at a restaurant and you want some recommendations on what to order? You’re out on the town and you want to know where you can grab the cheapest drinks? Foursquare is your immediate gratification resource for these questions, and since your location is so eloquently pinpointed, it takes away from the time-consuming Google research in which you would normally need to divulge.

3. Foursquare is a game

Who doesn’t like playing games? With every check-in, you receive a specific amount of points which are tallied on a weekly and yearly basis, and compared on a leaderboard with the rest of your friends. By checking in to certain venues at different times, you also earn badges acknowledging your accomplishments. If you check-in to a location enough times, you can become the “mayor” of the venue, which at the very least gives you bragging right.

You can’t redeem these points for anything valuable, and the badges don’t transfer into tangible medals. So why do we Foursquare users love it? Because it’s fun.  Because they offer some form of immediate gratification which rewards you for using their product. On a bad day when nothing goes your way, you can always check-in to a location, look down at your screen, and have Foursquare tell you that you did something good. As Jason would say, it’s all about the points (seventeen of them, to be specific).

So will Foursquare survive the social networking boom? Only time will tell. But with all that it has going for it, it has a better chance than most.

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4 responses to “Why Foursquare will survive the saturated social networking market

  1. isn’t it more likely that Facebook/Twitter head them off at the pass with their upcoming location-based features?

  2. It is certainly all about the points. I want more points.

  3. Clearly, I just joined it and made you my friend. Thanks Lancos!!

  4. Austin – My (only slightly biased) opinion in regards to Twitter and Facebook overtaking Foursquare is no, they will not win. Foursquare is picking up speed and it going to burst soon. Facebook and Twitter have plenty of mobile apps and sites out, but none are ready to accept location-based updates. For that to happen, they will need a major overhaul of their programs, and for that on all their platforms (all of which Foursquare already supports). As I mentioned earlier, Foursquare is used primarily in the mobile world, and until Facebook and Twitter come out with successful supporting applications, they can’t compete, and I don’t think Facebook and Twitter will have enough time to catch up.

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