What in the Hell is Foursquare, Anyway?!?

I have been asked by several people about foursquare (probably because they see me check-in on twitter every 5 minutes). What is it? Why should I use it? What is the point? Et cetera, et cetera. I thought I would take a minute or two to type up a quick post about it. This is not meant to be a guide or a walk-through, nor is it all-inclusive. This is just a quick explanation of what foursquare is to me and how/why I use it.

Foursquare is a game.

Think of it like a city welcome guide meets twitter. It allows you to “check-in” whenever you go somewhere: the grocery store, the mall, a conference out-of-town, a restaurant, a bar…you get the idea. The more places you go, the more points you earn and more badges you unlock. The more points you earn and badges you unlock, the more smack you can talk to your friends!

What happens when I check in?

Your friends are notified when you check-in to a place. You can set it up to tweet your whereabouts or to post it on facebook.

You can leave tips at places. What you are trying to do is give hints to other foursquare users that maybe people without foursquare won’t know about. Not really a review like “A wonderful venue with an exciting menu and fantastic variety of cuisine!” More along the lines of, “Talk to Sam and ask for the secret menu” or “Ask for a Katy, it’s not on the menu, but the best sandwich they have!” When a person checks in to a place you have added a tip to, they are notified. Every tip you leave is discoverable to others.

One could create one’s own “virtual scavenger hunt” with a little time and imagination. If a person goes to a place you have left a “clue” at, they are notified. If they figure out the “clue” and go there, they might find another “clue” that you have left.

You can also create a “To do” list for the next time you check-in to a venue. Something like “Try the veal next time” or “The filet mignon was horrible” where you would remind yourself of what you were thinking last time you were there.

Why would I use foursquare?

Foursquare is a social networking site. It allows you to connect with others who have similar interests evidenced by frequenting the same venues. When you check-in to a place, you can be notified if any of your friends have checked in there recently, or are possibly still there. Some circles of friends have foursquare “parties” or “mashups” in which the organizer announces the venue and it becomes a contest to see how many foursquare check-ins that party can register.

Ok, I’m sold. Now, how do I get it on my phone?

Foursquare is available on BlackBerry, iPhone, Android, and Palm. If you have a supported phone, head over to http://foursquare.com and click the appropriate link.

In short, foursquare is simply a fun, addictive game that allows you to connect with people. To add friends, they have integrated an app that scans your twitter, facebook, and Gmail accounts (with your permission of course!) and add any foursquare users it finds to your friend list once they have approved your request. Give it a try, you are sure to love it!

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