FourSquare looks to promote repeat usage
Geo location tools got a shot in the arm, and a kick up the rear, last week when Facebook launched their own geo-logging tool last week. In my post on the news I suggested this could either be the killer of services like Foursquare and Gowalla, or the facilitator for future growth as the phenomenon hits the masses via Facebook’s user base. Either way it produced a record day of new sign ups for Foursquare and has provided added momentum for the development of the services.
The first signs of this, whether directly linked to the Facebook launch or not, have come in a relatively minor amend to the Foursquare experience, but one that could have larger implications. As reported on Mashable, Foursquare is now informing users of how many more days they would need to check in to a certain location to become its mayor.
Whilst this is a rather small amend, and one which could easily be dismissed as minor, it could have a serious impact on the repeat usage of Foursquare and its client lifespan. Previously it was impossible to now how close you were to becoming mayor, or in many cases why somebody was mayor over you. Their scoring system was sometimes, and still is to some extent, a bit of a mystery to users and mayorships are passed around sometimes without rhyme or reason. Whilst this change doesn’t necessarily amend these issues, it at least gives users an indication of when they may gain the coveted mayorship of their chosen target.
Obviously its primary aim is also to promote repeat usage. I don’t know to hand Foursquare user numbers but I would imagine their active users as opposed to sign ups show a large drop off from sign up to continual usage. The gaming element of Foursquare is what keeps active users signing in. But after a few mayorships and the odd badge, many people I know have lost interest and moved on. If foursquare can keep using the “carrot approach” of placing achievements not too far out of reach, they will be hoping more users will stay for longer. And as the gaming element is what differentiates Foursquare from Facebook places, this could be the key factor in whether they flourish, or perish, at the hands of the social networking giant.