In my attempt to master the social media universe I started using FourSquare on January 8, 2012. I had read somewhere that 2012 was going to be the year of FourSquare, and I wanted to be part of that. After my first check-in, at the bus stop near our home, I was awarded my first badge, the Newbie badge.
FourSquare works very simple. You need a smartphone and the Foursquare app. After registration, you can check-in at places you visit. This can be any place. Your home, your office, a bus, a pool, a junction or a petrol station. If the place does not appear in the FourSquare list that pops up (“Places nearby”), you just create the place. The idea is that your friends also use FourSquare, so that you can see if you check-in somewhere, if there are any friends. You can also compete against your friends, as with every check-in you earn points. I have currently one friend on FourSquare, my brother. I do not want all my friends to know where I am, and certainly I do not want burglars to find out if I am home or not. FourSquare has two major features. You can earn badges. Since January I have earned 33 badges, of which 21 real FourSquare badges. I will give you some examples.
It feels like being a pathfinder. The pride you feel when you have deserved a new badge, or a next level on a certain badge (I have the Warhol level 3 badge, deserved after having visited 10 different art galleries).
Next to badges you can earn mayorships. The person with the most check-ins (2 or more) on different days on one location, becomes the Mayor. Today I have 25 mayorships. If someone knocks you of the throne as a mayor of a location, you get a message. A couple of weeks ago I became (after two days, so very easy) the mayor of Museo del Jamon (not a museum, but a cafe) in Madrid. This did not last long: “Noooooooo! Kevin just ousted you as the mayor of Museo del Jamon. You are not going to let that stand, are you?”. Some mayorships can be earned easily, some are very difficult. My home address: no competition, so I have been the mayor since January. Station Amsterdam-Zuid I have visited 123 times since January, but no chance to become the mayor. I am competing with 7,026 people who have checked in 31,364 times in total. Central Station Utrecht is worse. 26,030 people have checked in 202,275 (first location in The Netherlands with more than 200,000 check ins). Last week I became the mayor of the hotel in Berlin where I stayed four nights. No discount for the mayor, unfortunately.
So, why do I spend time on this totally useless game or whatever you call it?
One: it is fun, and it gives some additional flavor to my travelling.
Two: It is a kind of diary. Through FourSquare I have a list of all the hotels, restaurants and other interesting places I have visited, and it helps me to find places back.
Three: I see good business applications. FourSquare shows me the power of non-monetary rewards. If millions of people are attracted to FourSquare, there must be a powerful intrinsic value. If we can build a FourSquare for our organisation, we can give people rewards for desirable behavior. Have you contributed more than five times to a Global Knowledge Network? Here is your GKN badge level 1. Have you coached a group of trainees to their next level? Here comes the Master Coach badge. If you use your imagination, the list with badges can be endless. If we can identify people as locations, you can earn points for everyone you meet. The CEO should earn at least 500 points per year (and the Chief of HR 1,000). If what I describe is already there (big chance), let me know. If not, this is your chance, develop it fast. Customers are waiting.