Foursquare – how square are they?

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Foursquare – Too square?

After a week of heavy usage, I have come to find Foursquare a bit too square.  Here is the story.

Over the last year, I became quite a fan of Foursquare (an application that provides you & your friends new ways of exploring your city via your smartphone), having been sucked into the “game” component.  And, for the most part, it has been quite fun.  With reasonable consumption, it has been a way to amuse myself as I walk along the streets of Paris.  For a gag this week, for the first time, I decided to see what it would take to hit the #1 spot among all the Parisians on Foursquare. As of the last count on this Sunday afternoon, I am riding on top… with just a few more hours to go.

A hot race to finish first in Paris

However, having dived deep into the Foursquare game, there are several things to note about Foursquare as it evolves:

  1. if you have not been on it recently, the interface has been improved quite substantially and they have FINALLY taken on board some of the duplicate entries (yet, there are still many more duplicates, not to mention irrelevant or ridiculous entries that could do with disappearing over time!).  Among the new features is the option to add a photo.
  2. unfortunately, the length of time to ‘connect’ into Foursquare remains at times laborious (this is for when you check-in).
  3. the functionality is a bit erratic.  At times, you can only check in to two spots ‘simultaneously,’  at other times, you can check in to three places in the same hour.  If you do more than allowable checkins, you will get the message “Whoa, that’s a lot of checkins!  To keep it fair, there are no points or badges for rapid-fire checkins…”
  4. the algorithm that generates or nominates the mayorships is at best buggy, if not completely out of whack. Not that I want to take it personally (and I am still mayor of 49 places), but I have been ousted of some 15 mayorships recently.  That said, I am said to be 1 or 2 days away from becoming mayor of at least 20 spots… The problem is that that has been the case for at least a fortnight.  Below is the typical message I get… this last one says that I am two days away from becoming mayor.  Not true it would seem.  I have not been ‘voted’ mayor once anywhere in the last two weeks, despite what any mortal might consider heavy Foursquare usage!  Furthermore, for all my usage, I have not been awarded any new badges — clearly, they are not catering to the heavy users.
  5. Foursquare has clearly been changing the mechanisms of its game, which means that for those of us “gaming” the game, you have to stay on your toes, or else resign yourself to the mysteriousness of the Foursquare merlin that seems to take decisions without much rhyme or reason.

Whoa… too many checkins

UPDATE: At 23h54 on Sunday night, I mad my last three check-ins to just nudge out arch rival Sylvain.  (I have the proof!).  Monday morning, I woke (a bit groggy) up thinking maybe I would have some form of recognition, from someone.  Nada.  Zilch.  Diddly squat.  What did I accomplish?  Hum!~  I went to the ‘end game’ and found that the result was quite unsatisfying.  Foursquare remains a bit too square, I guess.  I am going to hang up my Foursquare gloves for a while.

Conclusion

Overall, I must avow that Foursquare does not provide much social value in its current form.  Few are the companies that are getting in on the act here in Paris (although, as seen on the right, I did find this AirFryer ad that was drawn on a sidewalk).  Ultimately, if Foursquare is to impose itself in the geo-localisation space, it will need to provide some other form of value added.  Despite my high (read: excessive) number of check-ins this week, I have had less than a handful of tips and absolutely no interaction from any commerce or other Foursquare player.  Not very social or contagious.  Clearly, the application has a long way to go to become a game changer!

Once I will have finished out the week on top (the “contest” ends on Sunday night), then I will likely take the foot off the peddle.

What is your feeling about Foursquare?  Is it lying dormant before the storm?  Is there an unexplored opportunity that businesses are missing?