I was reading Sebastien Provencher’s guest post this morning on the LeWeb’s blog about foursquare and comparing it to Twitter. I agree with Seb that fourSquare is not the next Twitter but I do think its a bit of a game changer in what its doing with in Social Mobile space.
foursquare gives users incentives to ‘check-in’ to different locations on their mobile phone. It uses the phone’s GPS location to provide a list of local and popular locations for the user to check-in or the user can quickly create a new location profile. The user can earn badges for each location they visit and it becomes a bit of a game to earn new badges and compare you points with your friends. The user who visits an individual location the most earns a ‘mayor’ badge for that location.
I think the game changing aspect of foursquare is what its changing for user behaviour. As users check into new locations they can instantly see other popular locations that are near them. Right now that list is free from advertising and just based on the location and popularity of the locations. Kinda like search engines were in 2000, where there race was on finding content and less on advertising/monetizing like search engines today. Right now the user group engaged in foursquare is still quite small but its growing and ff this user behaviour continues it should develop into an excellent user intercept opportunity.
Advertisers could target users in their proximity with real-time offers. This is already happening on the Twitter today and its only going to get more powerful with the social mobile connection. Populating and controlling the list of ‘check-in’ locations will be increasingly important and profitable. As will advertising that can connect with this location information in a meaningful form.
It will be interesting to see if foursquare can maintain a unique position here or if the other social networks will just duplicate its functionality and bring it internally. Right now if feels like foursquare is more like an app on Facebook or Twitter than a social network on its own. I would expect that Facebook and Twitter will continue to provide the identity data for the social mobile experience but the player with the local advertising is still an unknown.