Foursquare is probably the greatest mobile experience ever built since it has the power to “profoundly touch and co-create our real life experiences”. With its ‘Explore’ recommendation engine, Foursquare has now evolved far beyond its roots as the check-in game of a few years ago.
Foursquare has received more than its fair share of negative feedback, usually regarding the “check-in game” of the service’s formative years (read this). While criticism in itself is fine, what bothers me is that the service’s detractors continue to dwell on what the service was, and not what it is today – Foursquare has pivoted into a powerful local search tool, has dialed back the check-in focus, and deserves renewed attention.
Foursquare, along with Instagram, are the only two social networks that I use regularly, on a daily basis (often in tandem). I love Foursquare for a number of reasons:
- It intersects with my real life and actively influences where I go.
- It provides me with the best recommendations, bar none, on where to go, right now. Recommendations are current and highly personalised. i.e. recommendations change depending on the time of day, suggesting good lunch places at noon, great night life spots in the evening etc. Furthermore, they are based on the places I have visited so Foursquare knows the kinds of places I like.
- It is an invaluable travel tool. I use it for finding the best places around where I am staying. Time and again I have found great restaurants with Foursquare, that I would never have discovered without it. (If you’ve never tried Foursquare’s ‘Explore’ feature, go here to try it out.)
- It improves with use. Checking in and rating venues helps Foursquare learn where I like to go, and improves my recommendations. Put simply – the more you put into Foursquare, the more you get out of it.
- It keeps a daily record of my whereabouts By displaying my Foursquare check-in history in my calendar, it lets me view a detailed daily record of where I was, when. This can be incredibly useful later – it’s a window into the past that I can refer long after my memory has forgotten.
- Venue tips provide great insider knowledge. The tips left by other users often provide way more insight or advice about a venue than a regular review. This is because Tips focus on what you should do when you are already there, not why you should go there in the first place.
Foursquare is an invaluable tool for discovering great places to go. No other application can provide such personalized recommendations. If you don’t have it installed on your phone, you should, if only for the ‘Explore’ feature. (Download it here.)
Whether you are a new user, a long term fan, or someone who previously got bored of the check-in game, these are my tips on how to get the most out of Foursquare…