Foursquare and two years ago

explore uwgb on foursquare
Just read that Foursquare is set to launch a “big new” redesign on June 7 — thanks for sharing the link, John Lucas.

First thought – Too late. Show is over. Move on, nothing to see here. The check in has checked out.

Second thought
– What if they’ve actually made it awesome?

I’ve craved (from a venue manager role) having a meaningful location-based service to play with on campus. I really thought Gowalla was the chosen one… I was wrong, although it was chosen by Facebook for elimination (got your ears on Instagram?). Will the “new” Foursquare be the one? Will they evolve their product so it becomes a go-to app instead of an “I’m checking in just in case someday this place offers a mayor special” afterthought?

Two years ago I floated a suggestion, something that I felt was missing, yet very doable. Something that would have made foursquare a valuable addition to UWGB’s social web presence. Something that would have helped promote events and not only encourage participation, but track it. Less emphasis on place, more emphasis on combining place with time over a semester. The idea made it all the way up to the co-founder, but to my knowledge was never released to the masses.

Here’s the email conversation where my hopes and dreams went up, then slowly floated back to earth:

I would like to set up special check ins for events.

Ex. Groovin Grounds in the Coffee House goes from 8-10pm on Friday, but people can check in to the Coffee House at any time. Is it possible to make location AND time specific checkins? So when people check in at 8:32pm on a Friday they get credit for attending Groovin Grounds.

This would be done to encourage attendance at campus events (concerts, movies, presentations, etc.) and a way to reward the Mayor of “Student Life” — is this even possible?

I know that Gowalla was giving out a special “garyvee” item if you showed up to a bookstore where he was doing a book signing during the posted hours of the event (utilizing both location and time).

Any info, please yell at me, thanks,

Simple request, right? I mean, even Gowalla was able to figure out half of it.

Hey Todd … awesome ideas you’ve got going there in GB … Here’s the scoop: we don’t do time-based specials in our system right now BUT if you want to use 4SQ to boost attendance at these events, you could try using some foursquare specials to offer some sort of freebies (coffee, food, etc.) for people who checkin at these events. Similarly, while a “mayor of student life” based on checkins at events isn’t possible right now, you could definitely set up all kinds of venues around campus and offer the mayor of each some kind of special. For example, we have another college right now who is printing a huge poster of the mayor each month and hanging it in the dining hall. Be as creative as you want!

The place to go to start offering specials is here:

Let me know if you have any questions.

At the time, I didn’t want to run specials, so the first suggestion didn’t work (at least not for me). And I didn’t want to award mayors of locations and buildings, I wanted to celebrate multiple mayors of involvement and participation.

Then something awesome happened…

hmm.. adding date and times to specials is a pretty good idea. lemme talk to jason. prob not anytime super soon, but i’ll see if he can squeeze it in


Dennis Crowley, the CEO of Foursquare, chiming in with his thoughts, very cool! However, since this conversation in March 2010, to my knowledge, it still isn’t possible to award users for participation in a series of events. But what if the “new” Foursquare will make it happen? Maybe “super soon” means within 2 years, and now is the time.

Or, like in the video below, will Foursquare drop the ball in the end. I don’t need another Yelp, I need better “non-special” management options for my current venues. I need to be wowed by the product before I strongly encourage its use campuswide. I need something I can take to the Director of Student Life and have it sing. I need a Foursquare that brings non-monetary value to the check in, meaning to mayorship, and the ability to promote its use for things that aren’t offered up as sugarcoated specials.

I really want a Foursquare that is less about unlocking deals and more about discovering/sharing opportunities to participate on campus. My fingers will be crossed until Thursday.

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