My Charlotte Foursquare Christmas List, 2009 | CLT Blog

My Charlotte Foursquare Christmas List, 2009

Posted on 23 Dec 2009 by Desiree Kane

A little over a month ago Foursquare, the location-based social media scavenger hunt/game, chose inclusion for Charlotte in it’s then very elite list of cities supported by the app/website. In no time at all we’ve seen local/independent business are getting in on the Foursquare e-gold rush.  We’ve already covered UNC Charlotte, so here are the first three to emerge that aren’t at the University.

+ Villa Francesca

@Villa Francesca: Show that you’ve checked in on Foursquare and get a Free Half Dozen Garlic Knots!

+ Big Daddy’s Burger Bar

@ Big Daddy’s Burger Bar: Come by Big Daddy’s to redeem your Mayor reward! Rewards are subject to change.

+ Blynk Organic

@ Blynk Organic: If it’s after 2pm, show that you’ve checked in on Foursquare & get a free pastry with any coffee or hot tea purchase!

What’s interesting about these businesses, and ultimately what I think is interesting about Foursquare (or any other location based social network for that matter), is the clever design in which they are collecting consumer data.  It’s smart on the behalf of Foursquare to offer this data as incentives for Charlotte businesses to participate with their start-up and it’s smart of businesses to use this same data to really target their core audience. By offering almost predominantly smart phone available service they’re already targeting a cross section of society with disposable income. Business and Foursquare makes sense but it feels like,  and perhaps it’s because it’s still so new, like Foursquare has forgotten about the same audience they and the businesses are after: the end user, the proverbial “urban explorers”.

That said, all I want for Charlotte Foursquare Christmas 2009 is:

  1. I need more of something when I check in some place. I want to be able to click on the name of a location and pull up their webpage, or even cooler, some sort of multi-media. Click on a location that is a business and you get not a commercial but a showcase of  crowd-sourced video content. Charlotte has a lot of unique places that I discover randomly and infrequently but really cherish. If I had a mini-tour guide in my hand, with data populated by people I follow,  I’d be much more apt to step outside of my regular haunts. That’s the whole purpose of Foursquare, isn’t it? It’d really help people explore places within the Queen City. Also — If I can’t get streaming video, can I at least get TwitPic supported and some way to attach pictures to locations?
  2. Closer communication with the company when, say, they change the nuances of how you play the actual game part of Foursquare. For example: A couple of weeks ago I got a point when I checked in anywhere, now I only get points if I check in someplace that I’m not mayor. I’m not mad, I just felt like I would have liked to know this info since they’re pitching it as a game (thus the “Leaderboard”).  All of the info I needed isn’t readily available.  Googling “Foursquare rules” is a complete mess when you’re looking for information that isn’t about the sport and when I search the only search field they offer for “rules” the only thing I get is a listing for a hair salon. Can a girl get a post?
  3. Directory Services — If they’re going to be trying to garner the attention of businesses, HELLO you should tell people WHAT businesses they can choose from. What good are coupons if no one knows where they can be used in their area?!
  4. Google Street View support — I think this goal is too lofty for Foursquare if I assume it’s on the same hardware options they have now. Street View would be such a battery suck that either everyone would hate it or no one would use it. I think phones will have to evolve more before this can be realized. It’s still stimulating to think about!
  5. Friends Integration — I want to be able to communicate easier with my friends. I can “shout” to everyone I play with but I can’t DM anyone if they don’t have Twitter.
  6. Put LOCATION in location-based! I want to see who is in a radius of the area I’m in so I can meet up with people! I want to be able to control in my privacy settings who’s radius I show up within most importantly.
  7. Badges — So, you get badges because you check in places that have been tagged via the web with a certain keyword a certain amount of times, with a certain number of the opposite sex, etc. When I create a new location, which earns me points, I have no options to tag the venue. This pretty much makes the badges, which could be a fun feature, pretty much the most anticlimactic feature of this “game”. The real value in the iPhone app is seeing where my friends are and finding new, trendy venues or quality cultural cuisine. Badges make me go “Oh, neat.” when I get them but I’m pretty sure I’m supposed to be motivated to get them and I’m not. I am highly motivated by a Foursquare exclusive deal though, I will say that. Maybe I just need a badge to strive for called “Exclusive” for earning the most mayoral deals or something.
  8. Pinging - I’d like to be able to set a ping to trigger when a friend checks in at a certain location without having to turn on pings for that person and get I like my friends but somewhere you have to draw the line. LOL For example: I know that if I see a group of people I know check in at Jackelope Jacks on a weeknight that I can stop by and see my friends sing and hang out during karaoke. I don’t need to know when one person is all up on Lantana or checked in @ Pinch Mobile every time they’re driving peanut to his chess lessons.
  9. Foursquare for B2B- For businesses to business operations Foursquare has potential. For example: A small parcel delivery company could have their own webportal where they follow only a certain number of delivery drivers who check in at every place they stop instead of calling in to dispatch. Geo location would keep employees honest about where they are when they check in if they are checking in as they’re supposed to.  Foursquare already has the data and is recording the metrics of their users. Heck, it presents some of the data & metrics they collect to the user, imagine the extent of data quality you can get if you’re a business and willing to pay for it! Again, good for businesses, ingenious for Foursquare.  These folks would substantially help build the infrastructure of Charlotte’s Foursquare maps &locations as well. This segways into:
  10. Lists — I hate to say it because dividing people you know into groups is kind of cliche but I’d love to privately be able to see only where a certain list of people is at any time. If you follow any significant number of people it becomes difficult to figure out who is where. Foursquare’s time contingent approach to updates doesn’t help me figure out who is at a party or location. If they check in over a couple of hours, it gets confusing. In the business sector lists could be fantastic for managing any number of remote employees, logging time spent on-site at client offices by measuring time in between check-ins, etc. The value for the logistics field is pronounced and Charlotte is an inter-modal transportation hot bed. Think of how activists could even manage themselves with Foursquare if they had the hardware. Flash mobs? :)


  1. Olga Bowman 23 Dec 2009 at 9:30 AM

    I like all these ideas. I especially like the twitpic support. I’d love to discover cool new places that way. I will say that I cant REALLY enjoy foursquare until they get a blackberry app. (which I know is soon!)

  2. Adam Holden-Bache 23 Dec 2009 at 10:15 AM

    Nice list– I especially like numbers 1 and 2. My other big gripe with Foursquare is that you can’t look up an address of a place if you don’t know it already. It’s hard to properly enter a new location that isn’t in the database. It’s leading to a lot of empty or non-accurate addresses. But overall it has great potential for both consumers and businesses. I’m curious to see how Charlotte businesses will take advantage of the opportunities presented by FourSquare. Time will tell…

  3. Wuori 23 Dec 2009 at 11:31 AM

    #9 While I agree that this is indeed “thinking beyond the obvious”, I don’t think the ‘beyond’ part is a good thing. Granted, while I’m a big proponent of companies that do one thing (and do them well), there are other implications that would deem this idea unfit, not the least of which would be having a location directory too huge to use easily via mobile devices.

    Your list is pretty spot-on. There are a ton of features that seem obvious to us that have been left out. Additionally, the FourSquare website leaves a lot to be desired.

    If I were to create a wish-list, first and foremost would be a smaller geo radius for checking in. I don’t need to see venues that are more than half a mile away, nor should I be able to check into them from that distance.

    There is a lot of activity going on with the FourSquare API development. You can follow it to see the daily updates that are being requested/made as well as get a more inside look at how the (very responsive) FourSquare dudes are approaching them:

  4. Lindsay Maddox 23 Dec 2009 at 9:43 PM

    Love all of these! I would really like to see 1 & 2 implemented soon. :)

  5. Jim @smashadv 24 Dec 2009 at 12:48 PM

    Great post Desiree — some serious thinking here. But frankly, I’d just wish they’d make it easier to comment when I check in so my tweets aren’t so templatish. I know there’s a way, but i don’t have the patience to figure it out yet.

  6. Hunter Wilson 24 Dec 2009 at 9:47 PM

    I just got on FourSquare and, so far, do not really get it. Then again, I didnt get Twitter at first.

  7. Scott Hepburn 28 Dec 2009 at 9:34 AM

    Very good list, Des.

    The Blackberry app that came out in beta last week addresses some of these points, but raises new ones, too. Here are some quick notes based on a very limited use of the app so far:

    * Improved Venue Information — Once you check in, you’ll see links to nearby Tweets, Yelp reviews of the venue, the venue’s Mayor, and any tips that have veen entered.

    * GPS-based Venue Search — It’s nice to select from a list of nearby places, rather than having to type in a search everytime. To @wuori’s point, though, the list is rather unwieldy. Smaller geo-radius will help, but this problem will grow as the database fills in.

    * Messaging — Thank you! The app lets you contact a friend via text, phone, email, and Twitter — assuming your friends have entered this info. Unfortunately, since I created my account via Facebook Connect, I don’t think Foursquare is pulling in my contact info (or if it is, I can’t see where I can manage settings).

    There’s plenty more to say about the app, but I haven’t collected my thoughts yet. I’ll say this — it’s an upgrade over the mobile site, but there’s still room to improve.

  8. Chad Hartman 28 Dec 2009 at 11:12 AM

    Your point about rules or a guide .. would help.

    Scott made a good point about GPS-based Venue Search on the new blackberry test, it is very helpful that Foursquare recommends your location and it is just a few clicks for you. With that said, in the first weekend of testing, that feature did not work 1/2 the time, I am in a metro Charlotte area, that could be the issue.

    Adam made a good point about proper entry, for such a new tool in Charlotte, there is already a lot of inaccurate information.

    Also, the “garbage” is already pretty thick. When I checked in this morning, one of the suggestions from Foursquare was “Thanksgiving Traffic” location “I-77″. enough already on that.

    I completely agree with the B2B potential (#9) and am very excited about that. I don’t know much about what businesses can see on Foursquare, but the B2C potential for building relationships seems huge also if businesses could recognize those who check in.