I finally did it: after resisting peer pressure to complicate my life with another social media application, I joined Foursquare. (Is that what you do? “Join” Foursquare? “Fan” Foursquare?) After all, I work for Razorfish, a company that took pride in earning a “Swarm” badge on Foursquare Day. If you don’t tinker around with social media applications where I work, people look at you funny. Now that this 47-year-old fairly ordinary dad has been onboard with Foursquare for about a month, I have a few observations:
- Checking into places with Foursquare when I am in the company of others feels socially awkward and geeky — like checking work email or smoking a cigarette. (“Just a sec — hold that thought while I whip out my iPhone and check in to acknowledge you and I are really having a conversation here.”) I find myself ducking into the powder room to check in. Odd as it may seem to a generation raised on mobile devices, there are people who expect my undivided attention. They are known as my family and friends.
- My de facto Foursquare strategy is to become mayor by checking into places that are too uncool for others to acknowledge. I visited a local Walgreens for cough syrup one night, took a moment to check in, and suddenly found myself a mayor in an apparent landslide. However, I didn’t have time for a victory speech, and Walgreens didn’t seem interested in giving me the keys to Aisle 4. Recently I even checked into church. You can’t get much more unhip than that. Yesterday when I received an Explorer badge, I felt like I won a batting title with a bunch of infield singles.
- While dining at Corner Bakery recently I received an offer from Go Roma for a 10-percent discount next time I check in there on Foursquare. Which was fine, except that I had already paid for my meal at Corner Bakery. So far no one else seems to be interested in giving me any offers that I can actually use when Foursquare has my attention. (It would have been interesting to see what kind an offer I could have gotten at church.)
- Apparently I partied like a rock star in Los Angeles April 23 when I checked into X Bar at the Hyatt Century Plaza at 1:22 a.m. How off-brand for a boring old dad. Actually I checked in at about 11:22 p.m. Los Angeles time to sip a club soda and have a perfectly fine anti-social moment in a bar where it was too loud to talk to anyone. To my Facebook friends seeing my information reported by Fousquare in Central Time Zone, there I was just getting warmed up at 1:22 a.m. It sure was fun to create the illusion. Which is to say you can cultivate the Foursquare image you want the world to see.
- I do worry about security on Foursquare. At some point you have to ask yourself how many people should know you are miles away from home holding court at the X Bar. Or planting your butt in a theater seat for a few hours. In the time it takes for you to watch those puzzling ads for Fathom in a dark movie theater, a savvy thief could clean out your apartment or house. Yeah, you can block others from seeing your Foursquare updates, but then what’s the point of checking in? Just to receive badges and offers?
- I’m intrigued by the customized content you can create on Foursquare. While dining at said Corner Bakery, I noticed someone had created a location called “Hell aka Work.” (Hopefully that wasn’t another Razorfish employee.) Oh the possibilities, perhaps some even useful.
In coming days and weeks, I’ll continue to have some fun with Foursquare. I suppose as a marketing executive I should be telling you I have created a thoughtful Foursquare strategy that integrates tightly with all the ways I share my own brand (whatever that might be). If anything, my strategy is informed by something profound George Colony, CEO of Forrester Research, said at the Forrester Marketing Forum April 22. George questioned the popular notion that the only way to benefit from social is to go “all in.” Instead, he proposed “social light,” or focusing on quality of social interactions, not quantity. Or worrying more about the experience you can have on social, not how many Twitter followers you can accumulate.
Makes perfect sense. For now, I’m just going to tinker around with Foursquare for the pure enjoyment of discovering a tool that hasn’t been figured out yet (at least by me). Profound? No. Right for me? Absolutely.