I read a great post a while ago from Jonathan Arehart on why he quit Foursquare and Gowalla. There’s privacy concerns, frustration with checkins, boredom with badges and more. Certainly, others are feeling the same. I haven’t used either since February, and I’m not into Facebook Places either.
Why Checkin? The Identity Issue
In talking to James Poulter and reading his exceptional work on The Recommendation Economy, we’ve come to understand that much of what we use Social Media for (and brands have thrived through) is expression of identity. James goes into details about it here, but I think it does quickly translate into location based games like Foursquare and Gowalla:
- By checking into a location I am expressing my identity. I am saying “I’m the type of person who goes here.” or “This is what I do.”
- By becoming a mayor (and retaining it) I am saying “This is very important to me, a key part of my identity.”
And this is fine. But it’s a very slow way of expressing my identity and a very clumsy way compared to a quick tweet, like, update, etc. Speed is of the essence today, hence the popularity of the like button.
So then what would be the other reason to checkin? – as it certainly is useless for social networking itself…
Checkin for Financial Benefit
So Foursquare now have promotions where, based on your location, a nearby service provider can tell you about their 10% off for Foursquare users or 25% off for Mayors, or whatever promotion they have.
This for me is now the only reason why I would use Foursquare, given that it’s a slow way to express my identity. And the issue there is that if it’s Mayors that only get discount, I’d not interested unless I’m already a regular.
If Gowalla doesn’t do this, it’s dead (well, it almost is anyway, despite being better designed), and if Facebook places doesn’t, I can’t see it being a popular feature. Fatigue sets in quickly.
This for me is a precise reason why we must get to the bottom line with what we do and MATTER.
Your Leading Thoughts
- What future do you see for Foursquare, etc?
- Are you using them? If not, were you and then fatigue set in?
- How can businesses other than restaurants and retailers get benefit out of these services?