The Done Thing on Foursquare

Businessman Standing on GlobeI just joined Foursquare last month at the urging of a friend who lives in Brooklyn. “This way I can see if you’re ever in the neighborhood, and we can hang out,” he said. I muttered something about calling him if I wanted to hang out, but whatever. I’m nothing if not curious, so a-Foursquaring I a-went.

I don’t know if you’ve ever played an RPG, one of those video games where you’re on a long, epic quest and there are lots of little side quests and mini-games that are not strictly necessary but they get you more points? Well, if you have then you will understand me when I say that Foursquare became instantly addicting. Points! POINTS. I must have the pooooooints!

You might think that’s silly and look down your nose at people who use Foursquare, but hey, you can go hang out with the people who refuse to say Twitter is anything but a waste of time. If you don’t like it, don’t use it, but don’t get all huffy about something that is, at worst, a harmless game.

Anyway. /wagging finger.

But as with any new social network, I’m not exactly sure what etiquette to follow. At first I had my settings fixed so that only Foursquare friends would see my check-ins. But I had just started playing, so I only had like 5 friends. So then I ticked the box that would send my check-ins to Twitter as well. The majority of my Twitter friends are in NYC and the odds are not impossible that we could run into each other and spend a nice ten minutes chatting at the park, was my reasoning. Now I find myself balancing on a double-edged sword: on the one hand, plenty of Twitter friends have engaged me in conversation about some of the places I go (“Oh, that’s where you work?” “How is that place?” “So jealous that you’re at Nintendo World!”) and that’s fun.

On the other hand, some Twitter friends have been passive aggressively (or overtly aggressively) tweeting their thoughts on seeing Foursquare updates from their Twitter friends and they do not like it. I can see why it would annoy tweeps who aren’t in the geographic area and don’t really care about where to find a good place for lunch in Midtown. And I can also see why seeing my daily check-in at the office could get old.

Surely, as with everything, it’s a personal choice when it comes to using Foursquare check-ins. But since I am so new to it, I would like to hear from the y’all. What do you think is the proper way for someone to use Foursquare?

Do you just share your check-ins with Foursquare friends? Or do you also update Facebook and Twitter with your check-ins? And what about daily check-ins? Is it gauche to check into your office every day? Is there some mobile app that would give me better control over what check-ins are shared? Let me know, please!

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  • I was recently introduced to Foursquare as well, though it has not gained that much popularity where i'm from, I can still see how it has become addicting. I mean who wouldn't want to be the mayor of their office building or me the Journalism School at WVU? At first I was a little creeped out by it. My first thought was, why would I want people to know where I am all the time? To try to answer your question about mixing social media tools and when you should check-in. I think if I were in a place like NYC or LA where it is more popular I would only check-in to the places that I wanted people to know I'm at. Also, for those who think linking with your Twitter or Facebook is annoying then tell them just to overlook the one or two check-ins you may do in a day. Also, when I was introduced to Foursquare by my social media teacher he mentioned that you shouldn't check-in to places that you go everyday, like your house or even your office.

  • For the most part, I check into my office and when I go to restaurants, but haven't explored more than that. I need to. Curious to figure out if there's value to clients using this service.

  • When I check in on Foursquare, I try to make it a status update as well instead of just an “I'm here, look how cool I am…” For example, if I check into a certain restaurant, I can say: “out celebrating my parents' anniversary. I'm at Max Burger…” I also don't check into the office. Most likely on M-F, you can bet I'm here and I can imagine it would get a little boring/annoying. I also find it useful when I do go to NYC. Last time I was in the city, I found the place my friends were meeting because of FS.

  • I know you have a BB; does it have a special app where you can change personalize your update like that? Using the official Foursquare app on my phone, I don't see where I have that option. Lookit us! Learning together!

  • For physical locations, it's got a huge value. When I last checked into a bookstore, a nearby ice cream shop told me that I now had a coupon for their sundaes. How nifty! What a great way to entice consumers, who are already out and about, who are already making a day of browsing and walking, to come into your store.

  • Via Cubana LAF, there's now a cool Firefox plugin that will silence your friends' Foursquare tweets if you don't wanna see them:

    And I agree. I should stop checking into my office daily! It's not like it's very interesting that I actually showed up at my day job.

  • Glorysgirl

    I literally laughed out loud when you mentioned POINTS! I moved back to Texas from San Francisco right around the time when Foursquare started picking up and my jealousy got the best of me so I of course joined, despite that it is still trying to pick up steam here in Houston.

    In general my rules are this:
    1. I broadcast my check-ins only on Foursquare if they are somewhere repeated from before or not unique enough to wish to share (oh wow another Starbucks run).
    2. I broadcast on Twitter if they are somewhere new that others may be interested in checking out or somewhere others may be/wish to meet up (oh I'm getting some work done at Coffee Groundz where other people might be working too).
    3. I never broadcast on Facebook, mainly just because it is my personal choice to have Twitter be my “day to day” updates and Facebook be for those who wouldn't care to see such by the minute updates. Depends on how you use each of your social media profiles.

    To those who complain about Foursquare updates on Twitter – give me a break. Twitter is a fast-paced platform and some may update more than others, whatever the content may be. As long as you are adding value with the majority of your Tweets, I'm not sure I see the issue. Plus, people can utilize Twitter lists and browser plug-ins simply filter out those who they feel are overdoing it.

  • mikeschaffer

    Being the mayor of my house does NOT give me extra special powers, strangely enough.

  • You should give yourself a coupon for a free sandwich, then present it to your wife! Oh, the fun you'll have!

  • Yes, I imagine it's difficult to get into Foursquare when no one in your city is using it. Oh, how sad; it's like literally playing a schoolyard game alone.

    Anyway, YES, good ideas on how/when to check-in. I think I might broadcast certain check-ins on Facebook, but only because the majority of those friends are not on Twitter.

    (And I didn't want to be the one to tell the annoyed people that maybe they should just not make a big deal out of it, but you know. I guess I just did. I agree, is all I mean!)

  • I have the Twitter auto option turned off but I turn it on for some check-ins including:

    – Events I'm attending when I know other tweeters are going to be there – that way we can connect.
    – When I'm adding a shout-out that adds value to the Twitter community, tips, thoughts on location, etc.

    As for checking in at home I've gone on and off that but I never release the location. I do it now because I got my friend on board Foursquare and he lives in the same building…so when I'm 'in' and 'hiding my whereabouts' it's a signal I'm home.

    As for the office, yes of course I check in. I work in PR and it's my job to promote my company. PROMOTE PROMOTE PROMOTE! Get that company listed on Foursquare, have people ask you about your work, get it recognized. As for sharing this with Twitter, I occasionally do but only with a shout-out comment attached.

    DON'T get my started on the metro mayors…pure #Fail! (Unless, as a few of us recently agreed upon, you have over a 5 minute wait for a train!)

  • Glorysgirl

    Ha yes I did not mean to sound harsh to those who may be annoyed … I guess I just see enough “Going to get a sandwich for lunch” or “I just got 100 points on Words With Friends” that I've realized everyone has their guilty Tweets that others may not care about 🙂

  • I just signed up to use Foursquare this weekend. I plan to use it primarily to track my travels and suggest interesting places outside of my locale, as I plan to do more travelling this year. I'm sending my updates to Facebook and Twitter. Given the point system, I can see why people are checking in everywhere they go, but I'm not sure if I will use Foursquare this way.

  • jeffespo

    Do you have a guest bed for when she smacks up Mike and kicks him out for a night or two?

  • Nope. I haven't made my house a check-in point on 4square yet so it obviously doesn't exist.

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  • kathycash

    I am a casual user and I do have the Twitter option turned on, but like @KOttavio I always try to personalize it so that it becomes more of a status update. No one wants to hear about me being at the office – let's just assume I'm there more often than not. 🙂 (Plus, I think a few of my colleagues have the mayor's seat pretty much locked up so I don't even try!) It is also useful when others leave tips about a particular place you are visiting….the check-in feature alone is only part of the fun. The one thing that bugs me is that it doesn't automatically include the city/state in the updates – if I don't already know what city people live in, you often can't tell where they are. Or am I missing something?

  • jennasnacks

    For me, it's been an evolution. At first I was updating Twitter and Facebook with my FourSquare adventures, but I've turned both off. Now it's just about where I'm going and where my friends (a select few) are going.

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  • I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


  • sarahsoczka

    I've been using Foursquare for a few months and I have come up with my own set of rules for sharing my check-ins.

    I only share check-ins on Twitter when I'm somewhere special like a conference or tweet-up. I haven't shared any of my check-ins on Facebook because I don't think anyone in that network cares.

    What are everyone's thoughts about checking in at home and work? I think it's cheating.

  • Wow, this is like the 5th Foursquare post I've seen in the last few days. I'd say it's catching on.

    I don't think there's a need to check in at your office…unless your work (like some universities we're seeing) decides to give incentives for checking in. Could be a cool way to educate employees on LBS. But then eventually some company will probably end up using it to make sure employees have butts in seats by 8:30. Make sure to check in on Foursquare when you get to the office. Ugh!

    TJ, I think your local ice cream shop is ahead of the game and the ability to share offers and conversation with folks who check in is where the real value lies in Foursquare. Especially since the take on those offers is measurable via redemptions and follow-up check ins.

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