Foursquare Breaks Away from the Pack

Foursquare yesterday announced “Foursquare 3.0,” which adds recommendations (“explore”) for consumers and a range of new specials/loyalty mechanisms for merchants large and small.

According to the Foursquare post there are a wide range of specials now:

Business will now be able to offer Specials to swarms, groups of friends, regulars, newbies, Mayors, or simply to everyone. And, on the Places screen in the app, you’ll now see a list of all the Specials nearby, so it’s easier to find places that reward foursquare users. With over a quarter million businesses verified on foursquare, these new tools will mean more rewards for users everywhere in the world.

Business owners can manage campaigns “at one venue or across thousands of venues,” making Foursquare appealing for franchises and multilocation businesses. Analytics have gotten better and now will show: “gender breakdown of check-ins, best customers, check-in breakdown by time of day and all other previously available stats, business owners will also be able to view aggregate stats across multiple venues, and the number of times a Special is viewed vs. actually unlocked.”

Foursquare Biz Dev Chief Tristan Walker said last night at the SMX conference that Foursquare’s ambition is to “redefine loyalty.” This is exactly right. In late 2009 I wrote that CRM/loyalty was the model for the company:

One should see this as a mobile loyalty program of sorts. I still don’t believe that FourSquare is mainstream but these local business promotions potentially give it much broader appeal. Nothwithstanding my “non-mainstream” remark, in some ways FourSquare represents the perfect expression of the convergence of local, social and mobile.

With its nearly 8 million users Foursquare has broken away from its immediate LBS rivals: Gowalla, MyTown, Loopt. It’s now competing on a larger playing field with Facebook, Yelp, Google and Groupon. Its addition of recommendations makes the app a threat to all the new “recommendation engines” that have recently emerged. This also answers one of my big complaints about Foursquare — that it can’t be used to find places, only when you’re already there.

Wisely the company is pursuing both brands and SMBs. Walker said that last year there were 900 SMBs on Foursquare now there are 250K (probably claiming venues). There are still enormous challenges from an SMB acquisition perspective and Foursquare will probably start working with channel partners to reach SMBs.

Agencies like ReachLocal and Yodle, as well as YP publishers and other SMB “aggregators” may be able to use Foursquare as another local-social-mobile tool in their arsenals in the not-too-distant future.

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7 Responses to “Foursquare Breaks Away from the Pack”

  1. Ben Saren says at

    I, for one, love it! This is a big step in the right direction, and opening salvo in these skirmishes.

    Greg, do you see SVNGR as a competitor?

  2. Greg Sterling says at

    SVNGR has had some good traction in pockets and done some interesting marketing campaigns. However I don’t see them (unless something radical happens) being competition for 4Sq at this point. 

  3. Ben Saren says at

    Agreed. Frankly, a total overdose of PR. But I digress! 🙂
    Any chance you’ll be at SXSW? Happy to be a pair of eyes for you. A drone, if you will…

  4. Greg Sterling says at

    I will not be there. I’m the only one I think

  5. Ben Saren says at

    Ehhh, its not that awesome…


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  7. Chuck Reynolds says at

    @Ben  scvngr is cool because they were the first to really add in more gamification to the mix and it made it interesting – but with the lack of use it’s not as interesting to play by yourself so to speak. Foursquare is well beyond early adopters and into the early majority. I remember two SXSW’s ago when it launched… it hardly worked but we all destroyed our phone batteries playing it because it was fun and we could find where our friends were, and last year was even better. Scvngr isn’t encroaching on that at all imo – the dude running the ship is wicked smart at gaming mechanics but he doesn’t have the adoption rate 4sq did and thus may not ever hit critical mass. 

    In regard to the post and foursquare 3… excellent update and it was long overdue. I wrote an article last night about the update basically for small business to understand what they’re getting out of the update. That post is here:
    Hope it helps them better understand some of the benefits they’re getting with the update and that Foursquare had them in mind in addition to the users in this update.

  8. Greg Sterling says at

    Thanks Chuck.

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