CEO Mike Flanagan has high aspirations of becoming mayor. Has he finally tossed his hat into the ring? While his dedication has poised him for a serious mayoral run, his campaign is nothing political. He simply wants to retain the elite “mayor” status of his local park. Via foursquare, Flanagan recently became mayor of said park, only to be ousted by another frequent visitor, who checked in more often through the popular social site on the mobile Web.
That having been said written, foursquare is in serious contention for the local-search marketshare. As Flanagan wrote in his monthly Adotas column, “…At the end of March, foursquare’s CEO reported an estimated 750,000 users.” While foursquare is experiencing phenomenal growth, its direct competitor, Gowalla, is experiencing a much slower growth rate. Based on these statistics, foursquare appears to be winning the war.
Regardless who wins, services like foursquare and Gowalla are demonstrating the growing importance of local search. If you’re unfamiliar with foursquare, here’s Flanagan’s short synopsis:
In short, it’s a mobile social-gaming application based on the concept of users letting other users know where they are and what they’re up to, all while being able to rack up points for doing so. To break it down further, when users arrive at certain “venues” (typically bars, restaurants or stores), they will “check in” on their mobile devices, thus alerting their friends. Users can also see who else is at the venue, view nearby venues, and peruse or leave their own suggestions…
Moreover, foursquare is showing how three different avenues (i.e., local, social and mobile) are finally intersecting, creating various crossroads that are helping local businesses gain better access to consumers. For example, foursquare, at its core, is a social-media platform for local-business searches. It can be accessed on a computer, but its purpose is not best served there; rather, it is intended to be used on mobile-Web devices, so consumers can check in with real-time information, wherever and whenever they go.
And foursquare isn’t the only service that is taking notice of the local-search functionality that consumers and businesses crave. According to Flanagan,
…Both Facebook and Twitter are looking to enter the location-based world. Earlier this month, Facebook announced it will soon launch a location-based feature that will employ users’ status updates much like how foursquare users check in.
Local-search functionality is also opening the eyes of many businesses that would otherwise have difficulties engaging in massive outreach projects. Foursquare enables business owners to compete in an affordable, cost-effective way.
For example, some local businesses offer discounts to foursquare mayors, while others provide promotions to foursquare users just for displaying on their mobile phones that they’ve checked in. No ads to create. No design time. Instant publicity. And, of course, a Web service is being used to drive offline sales.
Finally, through the user-generated content, such as reviews, that foursquare users leave when they check in, businesses get free word-of-mouth advertising that will likely spread virally. Furthermore, these establishments gain better insights into their new and existing customers by managing what is being said on foursquare.
This is all proof that consumers do want to interact and engage with businesses via social media. But I’ve given too much away. Read Flanagan’s article for the full details.