Revising My Foursquare Strategy

Posted by Bill Cammack On January - 24 - 2013

I haven’t been paying much attention to Foursquare. I use it, but it’s a “social extra”. It isn’t important to me, other than catching up with people that happen to be nearby.

For instance, I checked in on Foursquare, and my friend Tracy was in town and saw my check-in on a different social media app and pinged me, so I was able to spend some time with her IRL, thanks to the wonders of modern technology. :)

Also, if I’m leaving a hangout, I’ll check to see if any of my friends are around before I leave the area in search of other adventures.

So.. A couple of days ago, Foursquare announces to me that I’ve reached the 1,000 contact limit.

Of course, I’m thinking “What 1,000 contact limit? o_O”

These are the perils of using free apps like Foursquare, Twitter, and Facebook.. They just change whatever they want whenever they want, and you don’t have anything to say about it because you aren’t paying A DIME to use them. You roll with the ToS changes (Terms of Service) or you bounce.

Usefulness

When I joined Foursquare, years ago, it was very useful, because I was only connected to social media friends of mine, because nobody else had ever heard of it.

This meant that every update I received was relevant to me, and potentially of interest.

Somewhere down the line, Foursquare and Twitter became fads, and everybody wanted to be connected on them.

This was exacerbated when they added the ability for you to automatically find your social media friends on Foursquare, and you’re also alerted to when your friends join Foursquare.

The problem with this, and the limit I just ran into, for me, is that I have thousands of actual friends, and I have thousands of fans.

I’ve *always* been popular, so I’m still in contact with friends of mine from elementary school, high school, college, work, social media, and random socialization.

Similar to what I mentioned before about Tracy, I’ve physically spent time IRL (In Real Life) with approximately half of my 3,600 Facebook Friends, which makes ~1,800 people, which means that even if I restricted my Foursquare presence to people I’ve actually hung out with, I’d still hit the 1,000 contact limit if they all joined.

Decision

So, when I hit this limit, I started researching it and found out that Foursquare had started converting accounts of people that gained 1,000 “followers” to “celebrity” accounts, bumping all but 100 people to being “fans” or whatever, and keeping 100 as “friends”.

That was going to be a drag to begin with, but then I found out that Foursquare STARTED doing that and then STOPPED doing that before The Kid hit the limit, so my account isn’t going to be converted to anything.

This means that when friends of mine join Foursquare and send me connection requests, I can’t do anything about it. I can’t add them (it gives you an error, as if the program messed up), and I can’t send them a message saying “I can’t add you”, which I don’t FEEL LIKE sending them a message saying I can’t add them because I WANT TO ADD THEM.

I thought about this for a couple of days, and I also wanted to see if Foursquare would actually send me an email saying my account was converted. That didn’t happen. Right now, I have 1,001 friends, and I can’t add any more.

So what I’m going to do is bail from the “fan” aspect of Foursquare.

Looking down the line, as I have 3K followers on Facebook, 3K on Twitter, 6K on Google+, etc etc *yawn*, there’s no way I won’t continuously run into this barrier, so I’m going to pare down my Foursquare connections to the essentials, which will probably still be around 700 people, but at least, I’ll have space where I can add more essentials to the list, until I finally have 1,000 people, none of which I feel like deleting, and by then, Foursquare will have changed their ToS again, and I might have some better options.

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5 Responses to “Revising My Foursquare Strategy”

  1. @JoselinMane says:

    This is a very interesting situation for a number of reasons that might not be so obvious at first.

    Being in Marketing, the first one that stands out to me is the lack of brand feedback especially for a “social” company.

    There seems to be a time in a “social” brands life where they have to make a decision as to how “social” they are.

    Ironically the more social the tool the less social the brand is.

    Who do we socially connect with at Facebook, Twitter, Google +, etc

    Now Foursquare used to be the exception, as Dens was semi responsive. I haven’t had to reach out to him for a while and I think maybe the last few times I did I am not sure I received a response back so I might have not been motivated to continue.

    However this is interesting because of the celebrity factor affect ie these tools allow celebrities to connect with their fan base and become bigger celebrities but that was secondary to people just staying connected with their Friend base.

    This is similar to when .com superseded .edu as the most popular domain extension. The internet changed.

    The social web has changed now too.

    Now since celebrities, whether traditional ie Actors, Athletes, etc, or “social” ie Scoble, Vay-Ner-Chuk, Brogan, etc have become bigger than the original demographic ie the average joe that wants to just stay connected with they friends, brands have no motivation to cater to the core user base and in this case Super User.

    Many of these brands almost can’t stay loyal to that original base as they are now becoming managed by old school “boards” because they are public companies.

    There are many more things here but I will leave it there.

    Maybe another company or two will see this opportunity and build another offering that is more compelling to everyone.

    One can hope.

    • Bill Cammack says:

      Agreed, Joselin.. “How Social?” is the question.

      It makes sense that internet apps wouldn’t properly handle what we’ll call “intermediate celebrities”, because they don’t understand the concept.. Even if the people running the sites are intermediate celebrities themselves.

      The concept of “I have a subset of people that I want to share a lot with, and a greater set of people that I want to share a little with” really doesn’t compute to them, and I don’t mean the Foursquare people.. I mean people in general.

      Even the concept of “checking in” doesn’t make sense to them, because they don’t think on a social scale of that magnitude.

      Normally, people would make plans with other people and meet them somewhere, and whatever happens happens, and that’s life.

      Abnormally, your day morphs randomly by the opportunities that are presented to you on the fly by social media. If you don’t have a lot of social media contacts, you won’t get this. If you’re not a very social person with your social media contacts, you won’t get this.

      For many, social media is simply a venue for them to sell their wares and shill for their companies and try to make some money. They’re not actually trying to SOCIALIZE with anybody! :D They’re using the social aspect to try to enhance their visibility and business prospects.

      That’s all well & good, except people like that aren’t going to understand the concept of checking in at a party at a conference so you can try to get your friends to converge there for fellowship, networking, and general good times.

      It also won’t occur to them that someone might actually know several hundred people that they would like to share and receive information from, which is why a limit of 1,000 contacts seems reasonable… It IS reasonable, being that I have been on Foursquare for YEARS and only hit that limit right now, but that’s because FS isn’t as popular as Facebook or Twitter, which are both easier ways to communicate with friends, followers & fans.

  2. Otir says:

    My understanding of Foursquare – but I maybe perceiving it wrong – was to offer places you go to a way to be promoted through the social actions of their visitors, not so much a way for us users to connect to our social network.

    It is tricky because brands and venues may not be using it to that purpose yet. But I have had some nice experiences for example when checking in a place where a brand had made an offer (I can give the example of American Express offering a rebate card if you check-in and use your amex to pay).

    In the end, we have to remember that, celebrity or not, we are basically content providers for marketing purposes. That we get a kick of the social media effect in the end is just an added bonus for us, but as you said it very well in your opening paragraph, we have to go with the flow when we are not paying for the service (it is not a service then! or at least it is not “serving” us but those who buy and expect something in return).

    • Bill Cammack says:

      Your assessment is absolutely correct, Otir. :)

      To put it in your terms, I utilize the “social media effect” of it more than their main purpose, which is having people map the world for them so they can sell advertisement abilities to the companies which become mapped.

      So, if someone I know maps a company, it shows up on my radar / map, and then I get to decide whether to reach out to them or not, in real-time.

      Also, there are apps like Banjo http://ban.jo/ which aggregate Location-Based data across Foursquare, Facebook, Twitter, etc and help you keep even more precise track of your friends who are currently near you.

      Anyway.. If you consider the original premise, which you stated, it doesn’t make sense for there to be a cap on the number of contacts you can have, because the more people that can see your check-ins, the better it is for the companies that are being mapped, thus, the better it is for Foursquare.

      So I understand their concept of “celebrities”, where more than 1,000 people can find out that Demi Moore ate at Katz’s Deli, and I don’t see why they wouldn’t continue the policy they created of ‘promoting’ regular accounts to celebrity accounts with both friends and fans, for people that reach that 1,000 friend barrier.

      Then again, I’m more social than most people, so I tend to receive different values from social media apps than a lot of people.

      • Otir says:

        Let’s hope that the developers at Foursquare will read you! Their point of view is certainly limited to their field and they have not integrated the notion of “ambassador” that is so valuable in the social media app world.

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