I was struck the other day by Foursquare data compiled in this “infographic” (enough with the infographics) on SocialMediaToday. The data were originally collected and analyzed by social marketing firm Austin & Williams. There’s no mention of the survey sample size or demographics of the respondents.
Almost 60% report being likely or very likely to respond to a check-in incentive. Beyond this however these respondents want the badges and want to be mayor. In other words they’re very into the game dynamics of Foursquare.
I would argue that this audience is not mainstream and that most mobile users are not going to behave like this (see “check-in fatigue”) — though they will respond to deals.
The challenge for Foursquare, with Facebook on the one side and Groupon on the other, is to continue to satisfy these core users while creating much broader appeal for more casual users. I would argue that Foursquare should consider selling itself in the near term, say after it hits 15 million users. I don’t see an IPO in the company’s future and there are significant business model challenges.
Waiting too long to sell risks “pulling a Digg.”