Location-based social networks may well be the next big thing in social media. Facebook’s recent entry into the market with Facebook Places highlights the strong potential of location-based services such as BrightKite, Gowalla and Foursquare.
Foursquare, the most popular of these platforms, recently passed the 4 million user mark little more than 50 days after crossing the 3 million mark – talk about fast growth! For those who haven’t heard of it, Foursquare is a website/application that allows you to share your location with friends and awards users with points and badges for experiencing new things.
A lot of travelers we know already use Foursquare, but are they getting the most out of this network? Here are 5 reasons why we believe all travelers should be using Foursquare.
You’ve arrived in a new city after spending hours in transit and all you want is some food and perhaps a drink. There’s nobody around to point you in the right direction, you don’t speak the local dialect and you haven’t done your research – what the hell do you do? Fire up your phone and open up the Foursquare app, that’s what! Within seconds, you’ll have a lengthy list of popular places nearby. If you’re lucky, other users may have posted tips or recommendations that will help you make a decision on where to go for that much needed nourishment.
Even if you are familiar with a city, Foursquare can help you find places that you didn’t even know existed and give you the chance to experience new things! How good is that?! The City of Chicago have led the way with Foursquare integration and encourage visitors and residents to unlock the history and culture of the Windy City by finding hidden gems in 77 unique neighborhoods, 552 parks and 7,300 restaurants.
2. Foursquare History
For those of us who are traveling long-term, keeping track of where we’ve been or what we’ve done isn’t always easy. Foursquare History keeps a log of everywhere that you’ve checked in and the date you were there. Want to know the name of that restaurant you ate at a few months ago so you can recommend it to a friend? If you have a terrible memory like me, just open Foursquare and you’ll have your answer!
3. Special Offers
With the increasing popularity of Foursquare, more businesses are looking for ways to get involved and utilize Foursquare’s reach. As of August 2010, there were over 15,000 venues experimenting with special offers on Foursquare. Expect to see even more special offers via Foursquare in the future, particularly for loyal customers – this is great for us budget travelers, who’s going to say no to something for free, especially if it’s a free drink or dinner?
4. It’s a fun game!
Foursquare’s website describes the application as “a game that challenges users to experience new things and rewards them for doing so”. You earn points every time you check in or add new locations, compete for mayorships and look for badges. While this may not keep a busy traveler interested in the longer term, it adds a layer of fun to the application – we’re all going to want to earn badges and rewards along the way! And it can get quite competitive trying to become the mayor of a venue if you’re in the same city for an extended period.
5. Connecting with friends
As with any social network, one of its key objectives is allowing its users to connect with friends and their network. Foursquare allows you to see where your friends currently are – maybe they’re all at the pub and you can join them, or live through them via Foursquare. Allowing family and friends to see that you’ve arrived safely is another great reason for travelers to use Foursquare – check in and they can breath a sigh of relief at home.
So what are you waiting for? If you’ve got a cell phone, get over to http://foursquare.com/ and download the mobile app for your device.
Note: While we’re not actively using Foursquare at the moment, we plan to use the service extensively on our travels. Add us at http://foursquare.com/user/amzkiz