Sunday, January 31, 2010

How I use Foursquare

There’s been a little discussion around my Twitter circle about how or why Foursquare is useful. (I’m glad I’m not the only one who sees the irony of using Twitter to ask that question, since the exact same thing was - and still is - asked about Twitter.)

I think Foursquare is fun, and has a decent chance of being a long-term player in the location game. Of course I thought that about Dodgeball, too. For the benefit of the Foursquare doubters, here’s my tips on how to use it “right”. YMMV.

  1. Be somewhere with other players
    Foursquare is only fun with other people. If you’re the only one checking in near you, you’ll get bored. So unless you’re a real early adopter, wait until Foursquare has traction in your city. I live in a town that has very little activity, but I travel to Atlanta a lot; Foursquare is much more fun when I’m there.

  2. Have some friends
    Not only do you need people near you playing, you need to be friends with some of them. Real friends. Friends you’d share your cell number with. Friends you would enjoy having drop by your table when you’re at the same restaurant. Friends you’d like to fight for control of the neighborhood coffee shop.

  3. Don’t have too many friends
    Don’t add everyone from Twitter and Facebook. Be selective. I have maybe 20 Foursquare friends, and all but one are people I know in person.

  4. Don’t automatically post every check-in to Twitter
    The whole point of Foursquare having a separate set of friends is that you can limit who you share your location with. If you post every update to Twitter, you’re not only over-sharing to your followers, but you lose that intimacy.

  5. Post selective updates to Twitter
    You can always choose to post a check-in to Twitter on an individual basis, like if you’re at a cool restaurant you’ve never been to before, or at a conference. The advantage over just tweeting about it is a 4sq link that includes tips from other people, Yelp links, a map, phone numbers…much more info than just a geocoded location.

  6. Play the game
    Foursquare’s game mechanics are fun. Enjoy them. Battle it out for mayoral control of the taco stand. Stake your claim at every doughnut shop within 25 miles. Pick some badges and try to win them.

  7. Discover new places, find your friends
    On the rare occasion that I find myself in a city where I have Foursqaure friends, no plans, and the time and energy for some, I’ll pull up Foursquare and see if anyone is already out and about. If they are, I may join them, or at least click a button to send a SMS or a tweet and see what’s going on.

That’s how I use Foursquare. I get a reasonable amount of pleasure from it. It’s amusing, and sometimes helps me find something to do. The best way to “get” Foursquare is to try it for a while.


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