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Foursquare is an up & coming social media tool that is just starting to be understood and used by nonprofits. While it's not something you likely need to figure out today, it is a good idea to be familiar with it and have it on your social media radar. At the bottom of this post I list nonprofit specific articles about foursquare.

Foursquare, like other social media tools, comes with its own unique paradigm and language, so requires some explanation up front. Think social networking tool meets location-based game meets travelogue.

With foursquare you sign up for the service and then as you visit places – parks, stores, restaurants, nonprofits, etc. – you "check in" to that place, either directly on the web or through a mobile device. There are different badges you get based on various criteria including number of visits, number of other members signed in and more. If you have the most visits to a certain location, you become the "mayor" of that place and are listed as such on the website. 
Businesses and organizations can use the service to provide virtual "coupons", i.e., "check-in" to our coffee shop get a free bakery product or become the mayor and get 10% off your purchase. 

I like being able to see if friends have visited places so I can ask their opinion about them or have them ask me. The badges and mayorships create a bit of a competition for bragging rights. It also serves as a kind of travelogue as I can go back and see where I checked in when. I have been using it since March and have 16 badges, am mayor of 16 places and have 36 friends I am connected with. 

I am more careful who I friend on foursquare and only connect with trusted friends, not acquaintances, as I am revealing where I am (though you have the option not to share your check-in with anyone). Lately I have seen an uptick in the number of friend requests, so thought it was time to write a post about it.

Launched in March of 2009, Foursquare in June banked $20 million in funding to grow its operations and user base. Article on eweek.

So who is using foursquare, Gowalla, Brightkite and other services of their kind? Nearly 80 percent of location-based social network users are males, and 70 percent are between the ages of 19 and 35. recent research from Forrester found.

The report from Forrester in July said this "Location-based social networks (LBSNs), such as foursquare and Brightkite, offer interactive marketers the promise of right-time, right-place marketing by connecting people and nearby points of sale with geotargeted media. The market is quite nascent, with only a few million consumers using geolocation apps monthly. Marketers need to know what audiences can be reached with these services, which companies — if any — are ready for prime time, and whether LBSNs align with business objectives. Forrester recommends that bold, male-targeted marketers start testing but that most marketers should wait until they can get a bigger bang for their buck, when adoption rates increase and established players emerge from the fray."

Forrester Report (full report $499)

According to a techcrunch article here are the stats as of July 7, 2010 on Foursqaure vs. Gowalla:

  • As of today, Foursquare has just over 1.9 Million users. Gowalla has around 340,000.At its current pace, Foursquare will surpass 2 Million users within a week.
  • Foursquare is adding almost 10x as many new users per day as Gowalla and, despite a significantly larger base, has a daily percentage growth rate that is 75% higher than Gowalla’s.
  • Currently, Foursquare has about 5.6 Million venues and Gowalla has 1.4 Million venues.
  • 1 in 3 venues on Foursquare have been checked into only once or never. That number is 1 in 4 on Gowalla.
  • The most popular venue name is “Home,” followed by national fast food chains like “McDonald’s” and “Burger King”
  • On Foursquare, men outnumber women almost 2-to-1. Exact gender breakouts are not available for Gowalla, but the most popular first names suggest a similar distribution.

There are some interesting ideas and discussions starting to perculate from nonprofit thinkers. Check out the following for their posts and links to other examples of use:

Beth Kanter – Foursquare

Beth Kanter – Foursquare 2

Danielle Brigida on Location Based Apps by Frank Berry

Danielle Brigida on Location-Based Networks Podcast with Allison Fine

Heather Mansfield – How to Add Your NPO to Foursquare

Allyson Kapin of Care2

Peter Panepento

Bonus suggestion: CauseWorld

Beth Kanter – CauseWorld

Beth Kanter – Causeworld on iPhone

  Category: Games, Nonprofit Technology, Nonprofit Web Presence, Social Media/Web 2.0, Travel, Web/Tech


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