Core Foursquare Users Like Badges

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.”

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6 Responses to “Core Foursquare Users Like Badges”

  1. Nathan King says at

    Thanks for posting our Foursquare infographic. I definitely agree that the audience is not yet mainstream. What I think this graphic illustrates is that Foursquare’s active users are dedicated to the location-based social network and that the badges, tips, and mayorships play a role.

    Nathan King
    @NathanRKing

  2. Greg says at

    Yes. But it will be deals and/or greater utility that drive further adoption. And by utility I mean helping accomplish a specific objective rather than entertainment.

  3. Nathan King says at

    Excellent point. As a foursquare user myself, I find that its a little bit of everything – the badges, the deals as well as the tips that get my attention. The badges and mayorships don’t have much utility, but they add to the fun factor.

  4. Greg Sterling says at

    I don’t want to discount the role of fun/personality here either. But it’s an overall mix of fun and utility that will propel it beyond where it is today.

  5. Kevin Cheng says at

    Agree with your point about most consumers want the deals not the badges. Many folks I know who don’t work in tech hate the badges. But I’m curious if Facebook starting using game mechanics and offered points/badges/rankings would it be different?

  6. Greg says at

    The term game mechanics would cover a wide range of activities potentially. But most people on Facebook would not get involved in badges or points systems without some real reward behind the game.

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