Just “Checking In” – Foursquare: Useful or Pointless?

I admit, I’ve never had much interest in Foursquare and other location-based check-in apps. ‘Who the hell cares if I’m at Target?‘ was my initial response (and the answer?: No one.).

But in preparation for a campus workshop on social media, I signed up for my own Foursquare account. I’ve been checking in reliably (well, mostly). After nearly 40 days, 155 check-ins, and 9 mayorships, I still don’t get it. Sorry. I love technology, but this just seems pointless. What am i missing? Is it because location-based apps haven’t really caught on everywhere? Hello NE Wisconsin! I managed to snag several mayorships after just 2 visits.

I’m now the mayor of the university, and the library. There are hundreds of people, like me, on campus every day. I can’t be the only one that checks in using a mobile device? Is it the digital divide: students not having smartphones? Or is it general disinterest? Maybe both. However, Foursquare has grown in leaps and bounds. Check out their cool infographic showing a 3400% rise in growth. And of course, Facebook offers its own check-in feature, too.

One of the key attractions to Foursquare is earning special offers and discounts when you check in. The first time I got a discount at a store, I was excited. Then I glanced up at a ‘sale’ sign and noticed it was the same discount whether you were on Foursquare, or not! But this past weekend, I *did* get a special Foursquare check-in discount at my local Barnes & Noble. However, it was for CDs. Talk about combining old technology with new technology! :)

So what are the incentives of libraries to use Foursquare? Building loyalty, offering discounts and promotions, enhancing relationships come to mind. Library Journal covered the story. Darien Library in Connecticut also has some good promotion ideas. Homewood Public Library in Alabama has some good tips for librarians.

While I may not want to use Foursquare for myself, I do think it does have some applications for libraries and is one strategy to reach an increasingly segmented, but technology adept, game-loving part of your community.

Do you use Foursquare or another similar application?

If your library does any special Foursquare promotions, let me know!

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2 thoughts on “Just “Checking In” – Foursquare: Useful or Pointless?

  1. My take is that Foursquare is precursor to geo-social, geo-spatial information environments. Think campus tour with insights and history shared via geographic location when you check in. Or community knowledge shared via similar systems about buildings, parks, museums, etc. The marketing aspect is a good start – what comes later will be very interesting.

  2. Very true! And I’ve relented a bit on my Foursquare rant. I’m still checking in (mostly) wherever I go. And we’re thinking about what goodies/prizes to offer people at the library for checking in.

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