The Other Shoe Drops for Foursquare

March 10, 2010

11:09 am

Last year at this time, SXSW time that is, the new “big thing” was location-based updates I would see from folks attending who were “checking in” here and there.  As is the case most times at SXSW, people latch on to the next big thing and off it takes.  Over the course of the last year, Foursquare continued to grow and catch on with the tech crowd and eventually filtered into a bit of the mainstream.  As adults, it seemed a little crazy that we continued to check in to gather more and more badges – everything from “jetsetter” to the “crunked” badge. It was silly yet addictive.

After the badges came the mayorships.  Everyone started to battle to become the mayors of venues – for no real reason other than bragging rights.  As Foursquare’s popularity continued to grow, I recall conversations with a fellow technologist about the whats and whys of it and where it could really go.  At the time we both agreed that the value that Foursquare held was the information it was collecting.  We pondered how the company could use this data and monetize it at the same time. I felt it made sense for companies to pay to get better placement or have their venue recommended on Foursquare.

So as Foursquare’s popularity soared, some venues began to grasp the value of a tool like this, especially to the mayors that would frequent their establishments and others who would battle to gain the throne.  They began offering specials to the current mayor, creating even more of a buzz and presumably bringing in more business.

Yesterday, Foursquare took the next step, a huge step in my opinion, that truly rounds out the service, not for the casual user but for the venues themselves.  The website now offers a true analytics dashboard to venues, giving them an in-depth view of who is frequenting their establishment and when.

These metrics hold lots of power.  The venue can see who is coming in, what time they came in, and, most important, who their “power” customers are, from the mayor on down.  As Malcolm Gladwell pointed out in The Tipping Point, the most important group to get to are the influencers. With this dashboard, the venue owners have that info at their fingertips.

Imagine if you will, a campaign aimed at these top users and how it would affect a business and its marketing strategies. Then imagine how management would be able to look at the dashboard and see the busy times of the day, busy times of the week, and so on.  With this information, business owners and managers will be able to target specials when they know they will be most effective.  Think of all the information Google collects and how it is able to turn that information into revenue. Now think of all the data owners of small local businesses will be able to collect and how this data will empower them to make more educated decisions with real-world revenue benefits.

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Jimmy Gardner is a Senior Unix/Windows Engineer, a lover of technology and photography. Follow him online at @jjgardner3 and enjoy his portfolio at jjg3photo.com/.

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