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Archive for February, 2010

Google Buzz got it right: Why I’m addicted to Foursquare

by on Feb.14, 2010, under Location-Based Services

Foursquare - Google Buzz - Twitter and Facebook

I first heard of Foursquare from my usual news-source: Twitter. I think it started showing up in my stream over the summer last year. I downloaded it, played with it, but wasn’t in one of the covered cities so I didn’t think I’d be able to use it meaningfully. It seemed interesting, maybe something to check out later.

It wasn’t until I was at IMS09 and I was figuring out lunch plans/who was doing what when Rachel Levy (THE Boston Marketer) said “looks like a bunch of people are all checked in at Five Guys on Foursquare” that I realized Foursquare was going to stick and take off. That evening at the #IMS09 Tweetup at the Twenty8Restaurant I loaded up my Foursquare app on my iPhone and Rachel showed me how to make using it fun and awesome.

Then I was psyched for it, I totally got it and I wanted it to show up in MY town and wanted all my friends to start using it- last month that happened. That was almost 3 months later and I had almost given up on Foursquare and even with the announcement I didn’t pick it up right away again. But then someone new joined us at MicroArtsMonica Wright (SEM ninja and all around badass) and she showed up in full Foursquare mode and immediately my Foursquare habit started in earnest. Now I’m hooked and I’d like to get you hooked too. Because the more people who use it, the more fun it is!

What’s the fun of Foursquare? Some highlights: First, it turns life into a game (complete with awards and points to keep score). Second, it lets you connect with your Internet and real life friends in new and interesting ways (“Oh I didn’t know you went to xyz too!”) and gives you plenty to talk about (“I’m taking over as Mayor of XYZ, whatcha gonna do about that?”). Third it helps you coordinate and find your friends if ever the need should arrive (see my earlier example). But there’s another point here that is a real game changer: because you can post a note when you check into a new location on Foursquare you can now give a new location-context to your Tweets and Facebook status updates.

For example: Are you at the Red Sox game? Check in on Foursquare and share your thoughts about the game – it’ll tag your Tweet with your location so you don’t have to explain that you’re at the game – it’ll just be evident that you’re there. Just got a hookup from the drive through at Dunkin Donuts? Check in there and share the love. This means going from tweets like this:

“I’m at the Red Sox Game – terrible call! Anyone seen anything like that before?”

To

“Terrible call! Anyone seen anything like that before? (@ Fenway Park) http://4sq.com/123456″

And taking tweets like this

“Fun! I’m at DD in Portsmouth and just got an extra donut hookup. The Portsmouth DD staff rocks!”

To

“Fun! I just got an extra donut hookup! These guys rock! (@ Dunkin Donuts) http://4sq.com/abcdef”

Now, that may not seem like a huge change, but #1 you don’t have to explain where you are and #2 your Tweets contain a hyperlink to a page for the location you’re tweeting from that lets people know exactly where your experience just took place and who else is there too. It makes everything much more conversational and natural – when you’re at Barnes & Noble talking to a friend you don’t have to remind them that you’re at Barnes & Noble when you’re talking to them to help them understand the context of your conversation. Foursquare enables Twitter and Facebook status updates to be just that much more conversational and natural. This makes the entire experience richer and conversations more meaningful. It makes the whole “social network thing” more fun.

To underscore the importance of this concept I’d like to point out that Google made sure to build this feature into it’s Google Buzz service out of the box for mobile users. Anytime you post from your mobile on Google Buzz it asks you to tag your post with the place of business you’re currently located at based on your current location. Google got it right by adding location tagging to Google Buzz – it’s one of the reasons why I’m addicted to Foursquare and it’s going to help propel Buzz’s adoption rates sky high (which is already happening!). As a result I expect Twitter (or Facebook[!]) to ramp up whatever plans they may have had to make a move on Foursquare, or on adding in that functionality to their systems, ASAP.

So, does any of this interest you? I hope so. Foursquare is more fun when more people you know are on it, so get the app and give it a try today! If you’re not ready to jump on the Foursquare love train then why not? Either way I’d love to hear your thoughts…

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