RIP, Foursquare – you were a solution in search of a problem

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Today’s post is about the irrelevancy of Foursquare. Remember when it was all the rage? Back in 2009, Foursquare debuted with the public at large and “checking-in” caught on as the big trend in social media apps. I remember when all of my marketing peers jumped on Foursquare and were happily on their way checking-in everywhere they went. Well, Foursquare didn’t fool me. I wasn’t ready to give up my privacy and show off to my network or the world where I was and what I was doing. Talk about a loss of privacy!

Check-ins were such a shallow idea to begin with. I could never understand what attracted people to need or want to share everywhere they went. The problem was Foursquare never developed its “checking-in” functionality into something more compelling, like what else would I want to be sharing with people now that I’ve checked-in? The oysters I just ate and am now puking?

The social utility of checking-in is tied to the act of discovery and Foursquare is desperately trying to remake itself into a discovery app. But guess what?  They are a little late to the game. Apps like Yelp and Groupon already help users find great deals on all kinds of products. And let’s face it. Checking-in is a drag. You can check-in via Facebook. Why do I need to check-in via Foursquare? At some point, when does checking-in become a boring, uninteresting event? Even marketers whom I know on Facebook are not using the checking-in feature much. It’s simple.  Who cares?

Foursquare also split into two apps back in 2014 and by all accounts it was the worst decision the company ever made. The new Foursquare is trying to branch out and become a Yelp-like recommendation service, suggesting places based in part where your friends have checked-in. The new Foursquare focuses on those recommendations and moves the check-in part to a separate app, called Swarm. I haven’t used Swarm and why the hell should I?

Some people still use Foursquare and like the recommendations feature. If you’re not happy with Yelp, go back to Foursquare, I suppose. Yelp, for the most part, has never steered me wrong so I don’t see why I would abandon it. Foursquare has entered into a partnership with Twitter and is supplying its data to the company allowing Twitter to beef up its own location-based functionality. That’s probably one of the reasons why Foursquare is still alive as a company. Foursquare used to offer discount coupons to places when you checked-in. That’s gone the way of the dinosaur. But the company primarily makes money off of selling your keystrokes and transaction data to all of its advertisers.

In all honesty, Facebook helped kill Foursquare. The audience of one billion plus is where the action resides. And let’s face it. There are so many other compelling apps to be messing around with. Why are you wasting time on Foursquare?


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