Foursquare started out as a fad for many when in launched in 2009, but 5 years later, it’s still around and in use by over 50 million people worldwide amassing over 6 billion check-ins and growing by the day.
Foursquare has come a long way from it’s initial app in 2009 and has begun to integrate customized search results based on users behaviors including places they’ve visited in the past, place they’ve saved in their favorites, user ratings, and your circle of friends. Foursquare claims they’ve “reinvented local search, to help you find the perfect place, wherever you are.”
The part of Foursquare that made it so wildly popular in the first place, the check-in aspect, has now been pulled out and put into its very own app, Swarm. The purpose of Swarm is to become the fastest and easiest way to keep up and meet up with friends.
Foursquare launched Swarm because they believe that the method in which people connect to places is accomplished in two different ways, which created a need for a separate app. The logic is that you have a reason for going to any destination – sometimes it’s driven by a need or desire such as craving your favorite pizza or dessert but other times, your destination is chosen based on the social opportunities it may present like meeting up with friends, co-workers, or family members that are nearby. After 5 years, Foursquare believes that they’ve discovered that the instances in which both of these occur at the same time is insignificant. Foursquare thinks that you’re not often to decide to have the best fish tacos in town WITH your friends.
As early adopters of Foursquare, we began using it very early in 2009 and recall how many of our friends, colleagues and co-workers we recruited, showed how to download and use the app. Most of our use has been to let people know of businesses that we like, support and recommend and routinely would share our check-ins with Twitter and Facebook to get the most visibility. If there is a great deal, great service, or cool event happening, we wanted to let our friends and followers know about it.
Due to user information, Foursquare claims that their app is being used to find places and things around them but not necessarily used to check-in, so having an app with 80% of the homescreen revolving around that concept was not the best user experience. Likewise, other users only used Foursquare to find their friends and were not interested in the “Explore” tab.
Of course, like with any app, not all of the features are widely known or used which means Foursquare would hear feedback like “I don’t want people to know where I am all the time” and “I didn’t know you could search in Foursquare.” But, those are seem a little hard to believe for any uber-users, and of course, it’s not like Foursquare forces you to check-in.
Now, Foursquare has launched the Swarm app and has recently been overhauled and Foursquare has set about “re-introducing” themselves to users. With 5 years of data including 6 billion check-ins, 300 million photos, 55 million tips and 60,000,000 places to check-in to, due in part to hundreds of millions of edits from superusers providing feedback and updates to Foursquare to make sure their database was solid.
Once Foursquare determined that there were two different applications, they created two teams to tackle unbundling their Foursquare app into two separate apps: Foursquare and Swarm with the goal of making the best possible version of the two applications and solving the problems they saw with the current configuration, but creating a clear purpose and goal for each app. Foursquare would know be the app for finding the things you love and Swarm would become the app to express the social side of your personality.
As part of the update, the Swarm team set out to overhaul the game mechanics as they’d become dated since inception in 2009. With any update comes the opportunity to include new ideas such as neighborhood sharing. The Foursquare team focused on creating extremely customized and personalized search based on user preferences, what’s nearby, and any data that you share with the app that they can leverage to provide a more unique experience. Additionally, though the goal was to split into two separate apps, the link still needed to exist between the two to allow them to work seamlessly together. The reasoning was if you arrive at a restaurant and find your new favorite dish, you should still be able to share that information on Swarm and likewise, if you were to check in first on Swarm, Foursquare should be able to make recommendations based on your preferences.
Whether all of the logic behind Foursquare and Swarm will ring true is still being decided as users now navigate two apps. It may come as a hindrance for some and it may just be the answer to many issues that users had with Foursquare. Regardless of the benefits of the new apps, the sheer number of check-ins, and tips on Foursquare still indicate that they should be on your radar as a business. If your business are getting positive or negative feedback from users, or even simply interactions, that is of great value for business owners. Checking into a business is often an endorsement for your business and those that do so are often your loyal customers.
With over 1.9 million businesses who have claimed their locations to connect with customers on Foursquare, leveraging the reach and the community of Foursquare can be an integral piece of your local SEO and geomarketing efforts. Foursquare offers a unique blend of local SEO and social with the opportunity to interact with your customers and a way for your customers to find you. If you aren’t sure if Foursquare is right for you, simply Google “Foursquare” with your business name.
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