I used to ask this question myself, it seems to be one of those social media phenomenons that’s taken over the other side of the pond long before it’s engulfed the UK, very similar to the way Twitter started if I remember rightly…
Anyway, I read up about it for a bit, and I thought I’d give it a try out. Paul Fairley, one of my good friends of university, started using it at roughly the same time, and now we’re competing with each other to get the most badges, check-ins and mayorships. This means I’ve kind of ended up treating it like a bit of a game, but in a good way I think!
Here’s a bit of a guide to Foursquare from what I’ve found out about it so far…
Whenever you visit absolutely ANYWHERE, remember to check-in, even if it’s only work, or your house! The more times you check-in, the more badges you unlock and the more mayorships you can collect. Not everywhere in cities and towns has been added yet in the UK, but don’t be afraid to add a new venue if you think it isn’t there, Foursquare appreciate that you’re doing the hard work for them and reward you with extra points! The best way to check-in is using one of the mobile apps available for the iPhone, Android or Blackberry, or using Foursquare’s mobile site.
When you’ve checked-in in a few times in one night, a few times in one month, or have checked-in at a special location, you can unlock a badge, which is kind of like an Achievement on Xbox Live, or at least that’s what I think. There aren’t that many badges out yet that are specific to the UK, but keep an eye on this List of Badges, which is updated constantly, as Foursquare gets a bit more recognition on this side of the great Atlantic.
If you’ve checked into a location more than anyone else, then you become the mayor of that location. In the US, this can often have some positive effects in certain places, as some restaurants will offer the Foursquare mayor free food or drink, or maybe a free game of bowling, etc. to encourage the promotion of their business. That won’t happen over here just yet, but it’s still fun to try to beat everyone else! There’s a particular woman in the Galleries in Washington where I live, that has gone round adding all the shops in the shopping centre and checking into all of them just to become the mayor! Now that’s a bit obsessive…
Tips and To-Dos
I still don’t fully understand the concept behind tips and to-dos, but it seems to involve unique or special actions you can do at a specific location (like see the missile truck when driving past the LINGsCARS office on the A184) or that you might want to do. I’ve tried posting a couple of tips, but I think I need to make a bit more use of this feature, it seems a bit underused in the UK at the moment.
Please remember, Foursquare is still in it’s infancy in the UK, and is nowhere near as feature-rich as it is in the US, but this happened to a lot of popular social tools a few years ago, like Twitter and Facebook, and they eventually caught up over here and gathered a large following. This time, you might just jump on the bandwagon BEFORE everyone else!