Where are you right now? Are you at work? Are you at the grocery store? Maybe you are at home for a night on the couch watching movies and eating pizza. Wherever you are, make sure you tell foursquare so that all of your friends know where you are as well.
When I say foursquare, I do not mean the game that children used to play in the schoolyard. (Not sure, but according to a few friends of mine it is still a popular game for our youth. I myself have never heard of it.) Foursquare is a social networking service that allows you to check in to places that you go. You can follow people, as they can follow you, and you can always keep tabs on where you and your friends are.
With the service you are able to not only check in to places that you visit but you can track stats and earn badges for your accomplishments. You can earn badges, for instance, by checking in somewhere after 3:00 AM. Or you can earn a badge for visiting the gym three times in one week. That badge is called Gym Rat. On top of the ongoing and ever changing badges that you can earn, you can also become the mayor of individual locations. To become a mayor of a location, you have to have visited the place at least twice on two different days and have been there more than anyone else on foursquare. I am currently the mayor of over 25 locations!
The idea of foursquare is incredible for allowing people to stay connected. Especially for a person like me, that is always out in public and trying to network themselves around town. For instance, I went to Scotty’s Brewhouse a few weeks ago. I checking in once I sat down at the table. My girlfriend, who is also on foursquare, checked in when she got into the parking lot. I was given a notification that she was also at Scotty’s Brewhouse. The key to this is that foursquare also links to Twitter. I get updates from her sent to my phone as a text message as well. So, as I am sitting in the booth I get a push notification from foursquare saying she was there and then a tweet from Twitter saying that both she and I were in the same location. Imagine the possibilities when a location has multiple people who all follow each other on foursquare and Twitter.
Just this week foursquare has made some major changes across the board to not only their badges and the way you can edit locations, but they have also made several other platform changes. I wanted to take the time to not only introduce you to the service of foursquare if you were not already familiar with it, but also to show the people have been addicted to this service the changes that he and she can expect to see in the future.
(Note that you must have a smart phone such as a Blackberry, iPhone, or Droid to be able to use this service. You must be able to download an application that utilizes the phones GPS to track locations and allow you to check in to the desired space.)
When you first signed up for foursquare before these changes went into place, you were forced to sign up for the city nearest you. For example, while I live in Fishers, Indiana I was forced to sign up for Indianapolis, Indiana; that would place me in one of the said City Buckets and always be forced to add locations to that city. So, when I added Tan Co in Fishers, Indiana it would default back to the city of Indianapolis. That is no longer the case.
To get up to date with this issue all of the applications for all of the smart phones will be getting an update very soon, if they have not already forced the download. For the City Bucket issue to take effect everyone will have to update his or her software. I like that, actually. This is not the most exciting update of that will be taking place but it does force progress.
As I said earlier, foursquare has what are called badges that you can earn by checking into certain locations. There are also offer badges for checking into places that have been tagged certain things. For instance, I earned a badge recently for checking into a three different locations that had been tagged with karaoke.
With the new city badges, certain cities will have their own badges. So, if you go to San Francisco you can earn a different set of badges than if you were in New York City. There were some issues initially with getting the Newbie Badge in multiple cities for people who travel a lot, but if that happens they are now rolled into one badge. This means that if you get the Newbie Badge in your hometown and travel to New York you will not be able to unlock that badge again. But, with that being said you will be able to access new badges that are specific to the city that you are in.
Adding New Venues
I love adding new venues to foursquare. I like walking around the mall and checking into every store I visit. Although, foursquare recently has been accusing me of cheating for checking into too many stores when I am at the mall, but that issue is known and is being looked at. But, let us say I walk into Victoria’s Secret (not for myself, of course) and try to check in. The location has not been added yet so I go to the application and add the venue. This is where the process gets a little out of hand. From here I have to put the store name in, the address, the city, state, and zip code as well as their phone number and Twitter handle. This is a lot of data to remember, as there is not a map function on the application itself.
With the changes for adding new venues you do not have to have the address with you to ad the venue and to receive points for adding said venue. So while at the mall I add Victoria’s Secret I can then go home, open foursquare on my computer, and then edit that data since I was the one who added it. (I am actually a Super User Level 1 so I am able to edit all locations. You can get that status by adding content to the website.) This will make things easier for all foursquare users as we try to add new venues while on the go.
Currently the way the leaderboards are set up are based on the city in which you live in and the people who you are following. Now it will be based on where you are located and in a twenty-five mile radius. So, if you live in Fishers, Indiana and your friends, even who you follow on foursquare, live in Greenwood they will not be listed on my leaderboard. Also, the leaderboards reset on Sunday night at midnight so the next week you have an open slate to make your way to the top of the leaderboard!
There are a lot of other changes coming to foursquare that have not been released. They are working on new location fixe to help with the GPS in the phones, a better Blackberry application to compete with the extremely successful iPhone application, a complete design and branding overhauled for the website and the applications, and even tweaks to the point system. It is exciting to see a service that Mashable has said is the net big thing in social media putting some effort into their progress. So, the next time you walk into your local grocery story, make sure you check in so I can know exactly where you are!