Ins and Outs of Foursquare

With any aspect of social media most of us are making up the rules as we go along and Foursquare is no different. For those of you who aren't familiar, Foursquare is based on "checking in" at different locations around town and is available in a long list of cities. When you check in at a location, your friends, or those with whom you’ve connected to within your network can see where you are in the world. The idea is that you can meet up with each other, discover new places, take advantage of specials shared by retailers, etc.

The game part of Foursquare comes into play with your check ins. By checking in, a user is able to unlock badges, creating even more fun and competition. You get a point for checking in, five points for a first time check in, more points if you're adding a new venue, and so on. These points add up and eventually earn badges.

Another interesting aspect of Foursquare is how local businesses are using the technology. When you check in at Location A, you are alerted that Location B is offering a special or discount. Also, more savvy businesses are offering specials to the "mayor' of that location.

So what's the mayor of Foursquare? The mayor is the person that has the most check ins at that particular location. For a new location it takes just two check ins to become the mayor if no one else from Foursquare has discovered it yet.

If you're ready to jump into Foursquare, go to the Foursquare site and sign up for an account. Download an app to your smartphone and get to checking in.

Some advice:

  • It's okay to link your Foursquare account to Twitter and Facebook, but consider limiting those auto updates. No one but your mother cares to see your every move throughout the city pumped through Twitter and Facebook. It’s easy to turn both of those options off on your account so only Foursquare is affected by your every move.
  • Don't add just anybody as a friend. Add people you know in real life or talk to often via social networks. In other words, connect with people you feel safe with and don't mind them knowing where you’re at or where you’re going next.
  • If you're going somewhere and you want the points but don't necessarily want everyone to know where you are, check in as being "off the grid".  (Select "off" for the "Tell my friends" option)
  • Include shout outs if there's some detail about the place you want to share with your friends, such as a certain dish you recommend at your favorite restaurant or a great sales person at a store.
  • Use Foursquare as a networking tool  If someone regularly checks into a place you frequent, look them up on Twitter. If connecting makes, sense, reach out to the person and see about setting up coffee. Foursquare can be used as a great way to break the ice and meet someone that you may not have bumped into in otherwise.

If you have a great Foursquare tip to add, too, please share in the comments section below!


Jenna Oltersdorf owns an award-winning public relations and design firm headquartered in Austin, Texas that specializes in media relations, internal relations, social media, and design.


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