A $500,000 Foursquare Swarm Badge Party

"Foursquare has yet to figure out how to turn its growing popularity into a business."
Wall Street Journal, 6/28/10

I found 5 Ways Foursquare is Changing the World quite inspiring.  I joined 1 million users on Foursquare in April 2010, entered my office into Foursquare as "Handshake 2.0 Headquarters," and experienced a thrill when I became the Mayor of Handshake 2.0

Almost three months later, I've seen the terminology describing Foursquare evolve from "location-based mobile app," to "geolocation-based social network," to hot geospatial app.  I'm now one of 1.7 million users.    I ousted the mayor of what serves as my other office, The Weight Club, "served" as Mayor of The Weight Club for many weeks, but was recently ousted myself. 

I hosted a networking meeting for 10 people at my office last night.  Since none of them is on Foursquare, I'm still the only person who has checked into Handshake 2.0 Headquarters.

Assuming Foursquare's 1.7 million users are in the U.S., and approximating the U.S. population at 310 million, that means .5 percent of the U.S. population uses Foursquare, or 5 in every 1000. 

What does it all mean?  Here are a few of my observations and insights.

  • Going to new places, launching Foursquare, and watching a list of locations that my smart phone's GPS "finds" still feels a bit like magic.
  • Mr. Handshake 2.0 will corroborate this - and he's very kind about it – I have an archivist's nature and I find great pleasure in recording and storing data.  Our basement contains probably 50 file boxes archiving what I know.  Foursquare very satisfyingly archives where I go.
  • Classical conditioning trumps advanced technology.  I connected my Foursquare account with my Twitter account so my locations are broadcast each time I change them.  When a user has achieved a Foursquare milestone – criteria known only to Foursquare – Foursquare sends a Twitter update that feels like a public accolade. More, please! That was reinforcing.  But when I got ousted as mayor of The Weight Club, I realized with disappointment that I will always lose at Foursquare.  I go places to do things, not to just go there. Why check into a place on Foursquare? The mayor is already there.

After all that, for Handshake 2.0's second anniversary celebration, why are we hosting a Foursquare Swarm Badge Party, our locale's second attempt to earn the badge requiring 50 people in the same place at the same time?  Two reasons.

  • Whenever I check into Foursquare and see one of my Foursquare "friends" at the same location, or nearby, I am delighted and hurry to find them.  I am human.  I treasure connection.  Foursquare connects.
  • I'd like to join with my locale in figuring out Foursquare.  Business model or no, Foursquare just got another round of funding, this time for $20 million, equivalent to $10,000 $10 for each of its almost 2 million users.  If we get a Foursquare Swarm Badge on July 28, 2010 with 50 people in one place at the same time, that's a $500,000 $500 party.  Who knows what could happen for a locale with that kind of economic value?
  • Added 7/3/2010.  Oops! We corrected our math above and in Why Foursquare? 

Verizon commercial featuring Foursquare on an Android (not pink?) via Mashable.

Why Foursquare?
My Other Office - The Weight Club

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