Laurenstuart712's Blog

Foursquare – LOL or TMI?

Posted on: April 27, 2010

About a month ago, I was sitting at Starbucks with my friend Rachel. In the middle of discussing our summer job plans and dishing about our town’s latest gossip, I see her face light up with sheer joy as she glances at her iPhone. When I ask her why all the sudden excitement, she replies: “I just became mayor of this Starbucks! YES!”

I thought she was going loony.

Turns out there was no need to check her in to the nearest mental hospital. She was talking about the new social media phenomenon, Foursquare. Foursquare, as Mashable describes it, “is a location-based social network to help you connect with friends using GPS via your mobile device.” In short, Foursquare allows you to broadcast your current location to your friends.

Foursquare Users “check in” at different locations (Starbucks, for example) and can see if other friends have recently checked in at that same location. Users may also see any recommendations their friends have suggested, like a favorite menu item or a location to visit next. The person who checks in at a location the most becomes that location’s “mayor,” which can sometimes lead to awesome giveaways, like a free cup of coffee, a free meal or even a free hotel stay, depending on the location.

On one hand…

Foursquare can be a great marketing tool. Jimmy Choo, the supreme god of footwear, recently used Foursquare to create a competition that rewards one of its followers with a free pair of fabulous Jimmy Choo shoes. The winner of the Jimmy Choo Trainer Hunt event, cleverly nicknamed CatchAChoo, will be the “first person to identify the trainers in a location from which Jimmy Choo has publicised its location through its Twitter, Facebook or Foursquare page.” When businesses use Foursquare in this way, it can increase brand visibility as well as provide incentives for customers to visit the business or store.

On the other more cautious, over-protective hand…

In today’s society, when crime rates are higher than ever, is it really safe to use geotagging applications like Foursquare – which announce detailed information about where you are, where you’re going and places you visit often? I think the people behind pleaserobme.com, a website that creates and raises awareness about the possible dangers that can come with social media, explained it best when they said:

“The danger is publicly telling people where you are. This is because it leaves one place you’re definitely not… home. So here we are; on one end we’re leaving lights on when we’re going on a holiday, and on the other we’re telling everybody on the internet we’re not home. It gets even worse if you have ‘friends’ who want to colonize your house. That means they have to enter your address, to tell everyone where they are. Your address.. on the internet.. Now you know what to do when people reach for their phone as soon as they enter your home. That’s right, slap them across the face.”

Maybe you can skip the slapping part. But regardless, they make a great point. You should be careful about the amount of information you’re broadcasting out into the vast Internet world. It’s a big place out there – you wouldn’t want personal information to get into the wrong hands.

So finally, the question to end all questions: Foursquare – a fun, fresh marketing tool or a dangerous invasion of privacy?

Well, that’s for you to decide. My goal is to simply provide you with both sides of the argument and give you the tools you need to make an informed decision.

That’s all for now! I’m off to try and win those fabulous Jimmy Choo shoes…

-Lauren

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12 Responses to "Foursquare – LOL or TMI?"

Once again, great post Lauren!
I’m still torn between foursquare being an awesome app, as I am addicted to checking in and beating friends and co-workers out of being the mayor of places, but it is pretty terrifying how you’re publicizing where you AREN’T!

I guess you have to be pretty careful if you choose to take part in the mobile Geotagging phenomenon!

My thoughts exactly Ms. Staci!

I can’t decide how I feel about it. On one hand, there’s nothing i’d love more than to score some awesome freebies and become the mayor of EVERYTHING. But on the same token, I just don’t feel comfortable broadcasting my whereabouts and whereNOTabouts to the world.

Oh social media…you always put me in such predicaments.

Anywhoo, thanks for your input Staci! I always appreciate it 🙂

-Lauren

I’d never heard of Foursquare before reading your post. It sounds nuts! Personally, I think it’s more “TMI” than “LOL.” (By the way, I really appreciate the titles of your blog posts.) But hey, that’s just me!

I’m really enjoying reading your blog, by the way. You’re a natural blogger, I hope you keep up it up!

-Sarah

Sarah,

I know, i hadn’t really heard about it until a month ago! It’s a crazy concept…but one that has become quite popular! Some people are even calling it the next Twitter. Crazy, right?

Thanks for reading my post! I always appreciate feedback, especially from such a talented blogger like yourself!

-Lauren

Foursquare came out after the app called Whrrl and basically copied the entire thing. you should look it up, I think its a lot better than Foursquare and apparently whrrl is coming out with some ridiculous new stuff, like you can buy a drink for someone at a bar even if your not with them. All you have to do is order it through your phone and the bar will get the order…pretty crazy. Check it out!

Brett,

Thanks for your comment! I’ve never even heard Whrrl, but the description you left makes it seem really interesting. Comparing Foursquare to Whrrl could definitely be the topic of my next post!

Thanks for reading,
Lauren

Hi, Lauren,

Great post! I had previously heard the name “FourSquare,” but had no idea its purpose. After reading your post, I’m still not sure I see its purpose.

Technology has vastly transformed the way people communicate with each other in society. While sites like Twitter can be useful if you are following the right people, they are still saturated with people posting their every thought and activity. In the same way I hate reading about how someone is “super annoyed” or “hungry,” I could never imagine devoting time to sitting online reading about where people are. What happened to simply enjoying a cup of coffee at Starbucks without announcing it to the world? I enjoy utilizing strategic online communication for meaningful purposes, like connecting philanthropic donors to starving children in Asia, but new SN sites like “FourSquare” just reinforce my opinion that people are spending WAY too much time online. Call it the Eugene hippie in me, but people spending their days updating their location, or, even worse, sitting at home reading these updates, need to get out more. I think it’s definitely “TMI.”

Thanks for sharing and I can’t wait to read what you come out with next!

Jaimie

Lauren,
Fantastic writing. I had never heard of FourSquare, and I feel much more intelligent now. Honestly, it sounds like the Sims. I think that we keep traveling further and further into a world where human contact is unnecessary because we’re so engaged with our technology. Yes, this may make us smarter in the greater sense, but we lose our people skills and it damages personalities. Job markets are searching for prospective employees who are proficient in social media, but what happens when these employees flop in person?
I REALLY enjoy reading your blog, keep up the fantastic work,
Jenna

Just want to say what a great blog you got here!
I’ve been around for quite a lot of time, but finally decided to show my appreciation of your work!

Thumbs up, and keep it going!

Cheers
Christian, iwspo.net

Just want to say what a great blog you got here!
I’ve been around for quite a lot of time, but finally decided to show my appreciation of your work!

Thumbs up, and keep it going!

Cheers
Christian,Earn Free Vouchers / Cash

[…] Stuart describes Jimmy Choo’s use of Foursquare to reward […]

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Finding the ME in Social MEdia

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My name is Lauren Stuart and I am a senior studying public relations and at the University of Oregon. I am interested in corporate PR as well as pursuing a career with a public relations agency.

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