Before we get started, congratulations are in order for QuakeHOLD I of Escondido California who is officially the one millionth user to sign up for a Foursquare account. It’s always a momentous occasion when an app or web service surpasses the one-million user threshold and I’m guessing that there will be some celebrating in Foursquare’s HQ this Friday as they savor this achievement. In fact, a tweet from the popular location-aware service implied exactly those sort of festivities are on tap:
“We’re closing in on 1 million users! Current count is 969,775. Looks like that’s we may have something to toast during Friday Happy Hour :)”
Exciting stuff indeed, but what I’m really enthused about is a novel way for brands and organizations to leverage Foursquare to help users unlock their immediate surroundings. With Foursquare, one of the sticking points is that unless your friends live in your immediate area, Foursquare doesn’t really offer a lot of regional intelligence.
Sure, you could check-in at nearby locations, maybe even become the mayor, but after a while, the allure of such things wore off and the general sentiment seemed to be, “So what?”
Recently, some pretty high-profile brands began leveraging Foursquare’s “tips” feature to populate the service with regional content that aligns with their brand. By adding these suggestions about particular venues, it allows friends connected by the Foursquare service to get a notification including the tip on their iPhone or other Smartphone when they check-in somewhere close by. The History Channel, to cite one example, has started to really leverage this particular feature in an interesting way.
The cable channel has started populating tips at various venues around the United States to coincide with its new show, America The Story Of Us which begins airing April 25th. The channel’s epic 12-hour television event tells the extraordinary story of how America was invented and is an introspective look at the people, places and things that have shaped our nation over its 400-year history.
If you’re following the history channel via Foursquare, and then check-in at a particular venue, you’ll get a notification with a bit of historical info about a nearby location. You can see the sort of historical details they’re offering at their official Foursquare page. Here’s a quick example:
On the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art: “The museum was designed by Swiss architect Mario Botta who also designed the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.”
And it’s not just the History Channel who seems to be sensing the value in the Foursquare’s tips feature. Zagat, the NY Times, Bon Appetit Magazine, among others are engaged in similar campaigns, bringing local intel to Foursquare users who follow their brands. I can foresee this under-utilized feature being exploited by local guides and services who spring up to offer a wealth of trusted local information for your immediate area.
Happen to live in Long Beach California? It’s only a matter of time before some enterprising Foursquare user maps out the city’s best and most interesting venues, complete with info only a true local can offer. If you happen to live or play in the same area, all you’d need to do is follow that user on Foursquare and start unlocking some of the best venues that perhaps you never even knew existed.