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How to use FourSquare

July 1, 2011

There is a gaming element to FourSquare, and the gamer in me cares about the badges, the leader board and the check-in for check-in sake.

The game matters.

To me.

But I used to game like mad. I completed the secret level of Quake twice. There was a time where I would play Quake to the early hours of the morning. Quake is my shining example, but there are other games.

Not everyone is a gamer. Not everyone got onto LinkedIn for the first time and had to get their profile to 100%. Other people, lets call them normal, could leave their profile at 80% and not care.

The Game isn’t enough on FourSquare. 

I’ve written about marketing as game theory, and I would love your feedback on that. This isn’t about marketing as game theory, this is about FourSquare.

The issue with FourSquare is the value proposition. FourSquare can be an excellent suggestion engine (ie, where should I eat lunch today), with built-in offers, but it needs players offering suggestions (think Yelp, which in some places, generates tremendous value for people looking for things).

FourSquare needs a value proposition for the check in. I think a straight altruistic approach can work: for example, we’ll donate $1 for every check-in. That’s on top of the offers a brand can give, something for the first and the fifth check-in.

Get people checking in, and a brand can begin to see patterns of how people come to their business. They can also build a list of fans (not easy).

The point is, as a tactic, FourSquare should never be asked to act alone — the game feature might be enough to get gamers, but it isn’t enough to get everyone else. And everyone else is a way larger number.

FourSquare and the offer (altruistic and greedy) needs to be publicized. Give people context for why they should check in and you could get the behavior you need to get good data.

What do you think? Has FourSquare worked for you?

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