On January 2012 I checked in to Foursquare for the first time. My first check in: bus stop Van Renesselaan, the bus stop close to my house where bus 50 stops to bring me to the railway station Driebergen-Zeist (7 minutes), or in the other direction directly to Utrecht Central station (20 minutes). On June 20, 2014, I checked in for the last time, at my home address in Zeist.
With a certain Sylvia33 I have had some serious battles to stay or become the mayor of bus stop Van Renesselaan. In Foursquare the participant who checked in at a certain location most times during the last 60 days (at least two times) became the mayor. When I went on holiday or a longer business trip, Sylvia33 would strike again and it generally took me weeks to regain ground. Bus stop Van Renesselaan was within my league. In the 2 1/2 years I participated I never managed to become the mayor of something big. Railway station Utrecht or Railway station Amsterdam-Zuid, where I checked in may times: mission impossible.
Five questions about Foursquare.
- What is/was Foursquare?
I refer to Wikipedia for an extensive description. In short: with the Foursquare app you could check in at locations. You could allow friends to see where you were. You also competed against others, as the person with most check in’s at a certain location would be the mayor. You could also win badges for certain activities. Example: you could earn the Molto Bueno badge (level 1) if you had checked in at five Italian restaurants. I reached level 9 (45 different Italian restaurants).
- What did I like about Foursquare?
Reason number one: it made traveling more fun. It became a routine: when you entered a place, check in. Maybe there was a surprise. A new badge, or one of your friends who was at the same place (small chance for me, as I only had one friend on Foursquare). Reason number 2: Foursquare was my diary. In Foursquare I could always find this little (often Italian) restaurant where I had a great meal two year ago.
- Why did I stop with Foursquare?
The bottom line is that Foursquare stopped with me. The changed the app mid 2014 in such a way that all the fun is gone. No more badges. No more mayorships. It has been transformed into a search engine, and I do not need Foursquare for that. No problem, I had a lot of fun, and not checking in saves me certainly some time!
- What, if anything, did you learn?
Foursquare showed me the power of gamification. Foursquare gave me non-monetary reward for my activities (a badge, a mayorship), and for me that worked. Foursquare did not change my behavior, but I certainly can imagine apps that have the potential to do so. Earlier I made a plea to use Foursquare type of apps in business settings, for training and development. I still see good possibilities.
- Will there be a live after Foursquare?
Yep, certainly. It took me a while to get used to my life without Foursquare. Today I use Yo. Very simple, very effective. After Yo there will be others. Apps are never for life.