I have been reading about Foursquare over the past few months on Twitter. Several people I follow in New York City had been raving about it so when Foursquare came to Raleigh I was excited to see what the hype was.

Foursquare is a mix of location based social network and fantasy football without the professional athletes. Users check in at a location using their smartphones, laptops or even via text messaging. Points are awarded on weekends and non-business hours for “checking in” at venues. Badges are awarded for various activities including “Bender” for checking in four nights in a row, and “Local” for checking in at the same venue three times in one week.

Users accumulate points and are ranked among their friends as well as in their geographic location. Each Sunday night the leaderboard resets and starts all over again. I have read that if you accumulate enough points and badges you can receive free stuff from local vendors, bars, and restaurants. I’m interested in how Foursquare goes about doing this in each of their markets.

So I checked in at my office just to test the iPhone app and see how this works. I quickly learned that my office is not listed in the Foursquare directory so I entered in the address details and got more points. I also found out that many of the places I visit were not listed in their directory requiring me to look up addresses using Brightkite (another location-based social network) and then entering the address into Foursquare.

Of course I’m a 42 year old married person with two small kids so I’m not sure how many check-ins I will have at the latest bar on Glenwood South or Fayetteville St. So I quickly realized that Foursquare would ask me to enter a lot of addresses since Target and the movie theatre may not be on the “hot” lists of places to go out to. Much less my kid’s soccer practices and games held at middle schools and churches.

Other features that Foursquare offers include tips from other users. For example you can see what other users recommend on a menu to a new restaurant. Other tips may include nice quiet spots in public places or the best bartender or wait staff to ask for. Users can also create “To Do” lists to keep track of their task but it’s not a task list like you would find in Outlook. These to do’s are more like “Go to the gym” or “have lunch with John.”

I have to admit if I was a young twentysomething I would de digging Foursquare more. The fact that the network will alert you when friends check in is a neat feature to engage in social behavior. I wonder what my Foursquare would have looked like back in 1990. Would I have a “Local” badge for checking into The Five-O Club four nights a week? Would I have been the “Mayor” of The Comet? Note to Raleigh newbies: these are bars that are either no longer around or not-so-cool anymore with all the new entertainment venues.

Brian McDonald

Brian McDonald started Square Jaw Media to document strategies and techniques he had used over his experience working in marketing and communications since 1990. During this time Brian wrote about many of the exciting Raleigh social media events where great knowledge was being shared and tries to share some of the tips and tricks. . Read Brian's full bio.