The social location network, Foursquare, announced that besides surpassing 10 million members, they now have 500,000 businesses using their Check-in offers. Whilst Foursquare is still niche (compare 1o million members with Facebook’s 750 million), they are combating stiff competition from Facebook’s Places/Deals by creating an excellent, free, brand platform. One interesting example cited in their blog is from Radisson Hotels in the UK who are using the Check-In to offer their customers an additional 2 hours before check-out. It shows that brand offers can be much more than discounts for free cups of coffee.
What’s more popular, Facebook Places or Foursquare? WSJ published some data on Foursquare’s check-ins last week, but you would expect Facebook’s Places to be far bigger, given that they have 100 times the users of Foursquare. We don’t know for sure how many people are checking in on each network, but this comparison from Fastcompany on some of the top Facebook check-ins, shows how Foursquare compares with the same venues. Hardly surprisingly Facebook leads, especially at Facebook HQ:
Logan Airport (Boston)
Facebook: 84,000 check-ins
Foursquare: 66,908 check-ins
Cowboys Stadium (Arlington, Texas)
Westfield Shopping Mall (London)
Hotel Piazza di Spagna (Rome)
Caesar’s Palace (Las Vegas)
Interestingly though, apart from Hotel Piazza di Spagna in Rome, the Foursquare check-ins are not that far behind their Facebook counterpart. Although many observers thought that Places could be the end of Foursquare, it has instead seen them almost double their user base since Facebook launched their offering to 10 million users. Foursquare has the gamifaction element – the chance to win badges and that all important Mayor – that Facebook lacks. Whilst some companies beginning to work with Places and Deals, Foursquare are particularly brand friendly with some good campaigns under their belt.
An interesting set of sets has appeared from the Wall Street Journal who looked at a week’s worth of check-ins on Foursquare in February. Comparing two of the social location’s most popular cities, New York and San Francisco, it reveals some interesting (but not totally unsurprising) stats:
- Out of 2 million+ venues, 44.5% had just one check-in
- 2,500 venues had 100 or more check-ins
- 61% of the check-ins were from men
- Men were more likely to check-in to transport venues, whereas women veered towards beauty and health venues (such as doctors’ surgeries)
- The most check-ins – over 13,000 – wasn’t a venue at all but Snowpocalypse, celebrating the heavy snow fall that week
View the complete figures from WSJ here
Whilst Foursquare seems to lack a decent revenue model (not that they seem to worried about it), their success with brands has led them to great Pages Gallery, a place where users can follow brand activity. The problem currently is that whilst users can follow friends, following brands is more difficult. This new initiative makes it easier for brands to boost their followers and ultimately make the monetization of Foursquare easier.
The launch of Facebook Deals saw a flurry of brands tipping their toe in the location marketing waters. Many brands have tried check in offers on Foursquare, and whilst the likes of Dommino’s and McDonalds have reported a good response, there seems to have been no real measure of it. The questions still remain: how many more people, and how mandy more sales can a check-in offer generate?
Foursquare is addressing this, by working with the NFL on the forthcoming Superbowl. They have created a Super Bowl Sunday badge, and fans checking in will be given a code that they can redem it for a 20% discount at the NFL online shop. Clearly, one campaign will not be enough to give true figures, but when it comes to marketing response we are generally looking at a range of ROI or uplift. Foursquare say this is an experiment and they are not getting any revenue from it – looks like their revenue model has still not been found!
Facebook Deals, similar to Foursqaure’s Check-In Offers, launches in Europe from Monday 31st Jan. One of the first up is Argos, who are using it for charity donations. The first 10,000 people to check in through Facebook Places will see £1 each being donated to the Teenage Cancer Trust. With 1/3rd of the company’s sales coming through their website, and 60,000 plus fans on Facebook, it looks like Argos will find their 10,000 check-in’s pretty quickly.
Whilst the Argos deal is the most high profile, other brands including Debenhams, O2, Alton Towers and Mazda are also taking iniatives. YoSushi! who are offering 5 free plates and a drink for those checking in to selected restaurants. At a time when retail sales are taking a plunge in the UK, Facebook Deals may help drive some business back to the high street.
A while back, I argued that Foursquare is not social media at all, but it’s actually a game. Yes, it has the tools of social media, but when you look at how people interact with it, it’s the gaming element of becoming mayor that keeps users engaged. There’s an interesting interview with (the very geeky) CEO of SCVNGR (what have they got against vowels?) explaining the difference between what they are doing and the Gowalla/Foursquare approach. The key difference is the challenge element and making each check-in different. When you consider that this is actually what keeps the Foursquare users engaged, the it looks like SCVNGR have nailed it.
You can view the interview here: