This falls under our She Said, He Said blog post series. Join us tonight on Twitter at 8 p.m. CST for #shehechat where we’ll be discussing all things concerning geo-location. We will touch on Foursquare, Yelp, OpenTable, GPS apps and more. Bring your own topics to the table for the chat!
Are the recent changes to Foursquare, one of the leading geolocation services, progress or just change? This is the question I’ve been asking myself since reading Shelby’s post Is Foursquare crying for Yelp? yesterday. Some of the changes to Foursquare, like the local view, feel like real progress. Others changes, like levels of badges that Shelby discussed yesterday, seem like gratuitous gaming additions.
What’s in it for you and me?
Like all things, at some point you and I have to ask: “What’s in it for me?” Does playing the Foursquare game and taking time to check in at the venues I visit provide real value for me or am I just letting them collect valuable demographic data about me for free? In order to decide if we should continue using Foursquare, we need to focus on the value proposition they are offering us.
The truly valuable specials are few and far between
When I defend my use of Foursquare, I point to the half-priced drink I get each time I visit the Iron Horse Hotel and the half-priced meals a business associate and I enjoyed in Chicago recently after a checkin. In both cases, it was nice to save a few dollars; but the savings were actually surprises after I’d already chosen the venue. First, merchants are bound to figure that part out and the specials will slowly disappear. Second, we’re not talking about a large dollar amount in savings. It’s nice, but not enough to drive my daily use of Foursquare.
Non-financial benefits of Foursquare
One of the things I like about Foursquare is the ability to go back and look at the geographic history of what I was doing a month ago. This can have some value when trying to remember the name of a great restaurant or when filling out an expense report. On the other hand, I don’t check in everywhere so this history is incomplete.
The social aspect of Foursquare can be useful and fun as well. Recently, again at the Iron Horse Hotel, I checked in and Foursquare notified me that some friends were in the hotel as well. We ended up having an enjoyable evening watching a sporting event together in the hotel’s lobby bar. Since my friends had been attending a private event elsewhere in the hotel, I wouldn’t have known they were there if it hadn’t been for Foursquare.
A better geolocation model
Yesterday, Shelby compared features of both Foursquare and Yelp. This reminded me of another iPhone app that has geolocation functionality that I use frequently when I travel – OpenTable. Aside from reviews, there is really no social component of OpenTable. However, it does have two distinct advantages over Foursquare. First, OpenTable helps me discover where I want to go to eat anywhere in the world unlike Foursquare’s “explore” feature, which limits my exploration to my current general location. Second, I can use OpenTable to make reservations instantly once I’ve found the place I want to go.
OpenTable is functional first and even fun if you’re a foodie. It’s useful and completes a process. When I’m hungry, I can search for a restaurant, read reviews about the establishment and make reservations all within the OpenTable ecosystem. This application closes a loop and, when that happens, I am able to see the value in a product or service.
When modifications occur within your favorite apps or services, don’t worry about whether or not you like the changes. Instead, ask yourself if the changes are useful and valuable to you.