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Foursqaure 3.0: the location battle continues…


Competition between the location-based services is increasing with this week’s launch of foursquare’s latest update and its newest feature, recommendations. This follows on from Facebook “Deals” which gives businesses the opportunity to offer rewards to customers checking-in via Facebook Places. A range of offers are available from those that aim to drive new customers to discounts for loyalty (for individuals and groups). The UK launch at the end of January saw Mazda, Starbucks, Yo Sushi and Bennetton signing up.

Foursquare has been offering vouchers and discounts for longer yet businesses had seemed reluctant to embrace the service to attract new customers. I’ve been enticed by several of the “Special Nearby” panels only to be presented with rewards that are for the venue’s “Mayor” (person who has checked in the most for those not familiar with the term). This seems to be a wasted opportunity to drive new footfall into outlets though its understandable given foursquare’s relatively low user base.

With the release of foursquare 3.0 users can prompt foursquare for recommendations when they’re going out. Venues are recommended based on factors such the as user’s behaviour, that of their friends, the popularity of venues, time/date and quality of tips. You can also search for specific venues such as food, coffee and nightlife.

One aspect to it that feels odd is that lack of venue ratings. The tips attached to venues vary both in quantity and quality. A ratings system similar to Tripadvisor might offer more scope for suggestions based not just on check-ins but the overall visitor experience. An initial play with the restaurant recommendations for tonight left me feeling less than impressed. To be fair, it might be the lack of data in Birmingham that makes the results seem underwhelming.

To help businesses get more from the service, foursquare have also enhanced their merchant services with a range of extra offers. The impact of Facebook Deals is evident with some similar offers and others that are trying to go further such as Flash specials.

Will this latest release help foursquare grow or stop Facebook gaining further momentum? It’s way too early to tell though the user numbers don’t bode well for foursquare. With 7.5 million users worldwide, it still feels like a service that is popular with early adopters despite being over 2 years old. Facebook’s is reported to have approximately 30 million users in the UK alone. This might work against foursquare with bars, restaurants and retailers increasingly targeting the larger audience available on Facebook.

One Comment leave one →
  1. 10/03/2011 2:21 pm

    Nice article – Unfortunately I am not a foursquare user (which probably says something) but based on the figures with only 7.5m users worldwide I believe it is going to be hard for foursquare to generate quality recommendations outside of major cities.

    It just doesn’t sound like foursquare has the reach to be anything but a niche player at this stage.

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