Location and community

A year ago when I went to South by Southwest I heard about this thing called Foursquare. It was all about checking in at various locations from your phone. I looked at it online and didn’t join in on the fun since Foursquare wasn’t happening in my town. It seemed like a lot of work for something I couldn’t actually play.

But that changed in January when it opened up to everywhere. So I jumped in feet first. Why? Because I was curious. And after I added locations and checked in during a busy day or three, I was quickly a points leader and a mayor of every location I visit the most (work, preschool, elementary school, grocery story, ect.). Silly and fun right? There didn’t seem to be too much of a point beyond competing with my fellow community members.

I’m having fun and when I have fun in social media, I start looking for ways to bring a newsroom to the fun. How can KOMU join in? Well, with Foursquare, you can leave tips for people who check in nearby locations. For example, Columbia has a well-known restaurant that burned down a few years ago. It was rebuilt and looks almost the same except for the patio on the roof and the lack of a very old cigarette smell that always lingered. It would be cool for our newsroom to leave tips like that around town. The newsroom could encourage a local swarm. That’s when 50 people get together in the same locations and check in with Foursquare. You get a badge in honor of that experience.

(By the way, there was a SXSW badge that required 250 checkins. I got it at my first conference party) Businesses have had a lot of success with coordinated swarms. Why not a newsroom-sponsored swarm. Meet people from the newsroom! Get to know members of the community. Sounds great to me. I also like seeing how a number of companies are teaming up with Foursquare for brand-specific badges… Including Starbucks, Bravo and even the city of Chicago.

I clearly like it… and I see great potential here. And I’m obviously a Foursquare addict. But during my time at SXSW, I found some awesome ideas for Gowalla – another location-based game. I’ll blog about that next. But I figure I’ll stop this rant and take a break!


  1. Steve

    I’m also a huge Foursquare fan. Like any other social network, it’s entirely dependent on enough of your friends/members of your community actively participating. I’ve been telling friends and family to get on Foursquare, but had little luck converting people so far. It does seem that we’re seeing a spike in Columbia members recently (there’s certainly a spike in national numbers, though I wonder how much of that comes from SXSW), but it’s really hard to build up any kind of “swarm” until there’s more of a user base at the local level.

    So in short…how can we convince more people to join?

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