Searching for Foursquare’s Second Act

TechCrunch names some of the challenges Foursquare now faces as it enters its second act: check-in fatigue, lack of mainstream adoption and perhaps even a lack of mainstream appeal. (Forrester found only 4% had used a mobile check-in service; Harris-Placecast found the number was 5%.)

Foursquare turned down a couple of takeover bids and decided to go it alone. It now has about 2.5 million users and a still evolving business model.

The decline of the takeover offers was the end of Act I; Act II is longer and more complex. Where to from here?

I as an over 40 adult am never going to be mayor of any location. What is my incentive to use and/or keep using the service?

I need to be able to use Foursquare to make decisions about where to go not just check in or consult tips when I’m already there. Help me make choices about where to go. This is something that Yelp does today very well. Show me, for example, most popular lists by category.

Rewards also need to be more broadly available and more tangible. The seeds of this are already in place with some retailers offering deals to users who check in — the Gap most recently for example.

Gowalla and ShopKick are offering product and retail store check-ins that translate into points redeemable for gift cards and products, among other rewards. TheDealMap does this too. Beyond a free beer or appetizer, customers need more concrete benefits.

A range of brands and publications have used Foursquare to extend their reach into the “real world.” This could continue to be a fruitful area for Foursquare if tied into loyalty and concrete rewards.

Foursquare could also offer push daily deals in conjunction with a partner or on its own.

TechCrunch focuses on the social graph and the need to build and maintain social context around Foursquare usage. My perspecitve is more individual; I don’t necessarily care who else is “around” or on Foursquare right now.

Give me information to help me decide what to do. And make it much more of a comprehensive loyalty platform with real offers and rewards. Foursquare could become the Google of mobile loyalty. I’ll go after badges if the badges mean something other than just status.

With more tangible benefits, such as what I’ve described, I think the company can continue to grow and even become mainstream. Without providing a clear value exchange and broadening the use cases I think its growth will flatten.

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2 Responses to “Searching for Foursquare’s Second Act”

  1. Arnie Kuenn says at

    As an adult in a similar age bracket 🙂 I couldn’t agree more. I get the specials and stuff, but I would like rock solid recommendations tailored just for me.

  2. Greg Sterling says at


    I wasn’t even talking about recommendations but that would be a solid feature and potentially a “killer” one if it could be done well — my history + my friends = places I might like.

  3. Can a TV Show ‘Mainstream’ Foursquare? says at

    […] is now looking for its second act or a way to make the service more mainstream. I’ve written about this challenge several times […]

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