Altitude London’s Peter Kerwood looks at a newly-launched and widely taken up social media application, Foursquare, and what it could mean for the events industry.
If you have not heard of Foursquare, the location-based social networking website, you will not be the only one. The company only launched in March last year but in just a few months it has gained over 1.3m users and is widely regarded as the most exciting new social network around. Yahoo wants to buy it and Google and Facebook want to unlock its world.
Foursquare is one of many geolocation web services, which have recently launched thanks to the proliferation of smart phones such as the iPhone and Blackberry, which allow high speed mobile access to the internet. Other major players include the companies Yelp and Gowalla, and only last week Facebook announced it was close to launching location-based software that will allow brands to target users based on immediate surroundings.
Foursquare takes geolocation technology, mixes in Twitter and Facebook and adds game elements. The result is a killer application with massive potential.
The basic principal of Foursquare allows users to check into locations earning badges as they go which acts as an incentive for frequent visits. Users are able to leave tips for other visitors, which serve as suggestions for great things to do, see or eat at the location as well as places to avoid. It also allows businesses such as restaurants to reward its patrons when they check in resulting in positive comments shared on Foursquare.
In the US, it is not unusual to find signs outside restaurants offering discounts to people using Foursquare on their premises.
Brands that include Zagat, the highly respected US restaurant guide, as well as Starbucks and MTV have signed up to Foursquare and have their very own badges for people to earn.
I would love to integrate Foursquare into an exhibition, conference or concert and see what happens.
As a marketer, I’m very interested about the potential of these new mobile web applications. Being able to engage with existing and prospective customers has got to be good for my business. I will, however, be keeping a close eye on anyone checking into my venues.
Peter Kerwood is marketing director of Altitude London, which includes Altitude 360, The River Room and The Millbank Media Centre.