6 Reasons I’m down on Foursquare


I’ve been using foursquare for around six months (I think) and honestly, I’m starting to get a little tired of it. Or rather, the shiny newness of “checking in” has started to wear off.


1. I just simply don’t go out enough. I have 3 kids at home 5 and under. Which means on nights and weekends I’m not going to many places so I’m restricted to what I do during the work day, which isn’t much. So it gets kind of boring checking in to the same places every day, for basically no reason.

2. I don’t care about the points system. Mayorship is fun and badges are fun, but I don’t care about the leaderboard for some reason. All that means to me is who goes out the most and guess what, I’m not going to suddenly start going out more than the people above me in the list. So there’s really nothing I can do to improve my ranking there.

3. I’ve almost maxed out my badges because of #1. I recently got the “Bender Badge” only because I was at an airport at 5am and Foursquare thought I had been out past 3am :) Otherwise, I’m pretty much badged out.

4. I can’t beat certain people out of mayorship. There are a few places I go enough to possibly be the mayor, but unfortunately those places have other folks that go more than me and there’s pretty much no way I’ll ever beat them. So I have to rely on going to places that no one else goes so I can become mayor, which is pretty lame. For instance, @jmart730 owns the local Chick-fil-A and @darren_kennedy owns the Seattle’s Best. And personally they both run corrupt offices and rely on smear campaigns. Just sayin.

5. I’m starting to like MyTown a lot more because my success in that app isn’t tied to my friends as much as its tied to my decisions. I’m excited to see how they role out the social aspects of it in the next few months, but as far as game play its more fun for me right now. And I don’t think there’s room in my life for more than one check in system, otherwise I look a lot like this.

6. I’m a little tired of all the people tying their Foursquare accounts directly to their Twitter accounts so I see everyplace they go. For a few folks I don’t mind it but for most it clogs up my Twitter stream and that makes me resent Foursquare a little (not their fault obviously).

I’m still interested in check in applications and think there’s a future there, but waiting to see what the end game is.

Oh and I have to plug the new comic by status:THIS on Facebook entering this arena

If you’re still digging Foursquare, love to know if I’m off the mark on any of the above points.


  1. Josh Martin on February 5, 2010 at 2:30 pm

    Sounds like someone has mayor-envy….

  2. meganhickey on February 5, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    It took you 6 months to get bored? I've been on it 3 weeks and I'm bored. However, I got a renewed interest this morning when I became mayor of the Controlled Chaos room. Yay me! However, Danny Davis is planning a coup d'état.

  3. barkerja on February 5, 2010 at 8:31 pm

    Your points here are all similar to how I feel about Foursquare, and even Gowalla. They have a cool factor which everyone flocks to. For reasons unknown to me people seem to attract to services that have a gaming aspect — people love competition.

    However, what I've found with Foursquare and other similar services is they don't have a level of sustainability. They're not socially engaging and that's what retains users, it plays a role in “re-playability”.

    I'm not sure if you've ever used Brightkite but I believe they're a perfect example of how to properly engage a user socially based around location. They seem to have fallen under the radar because they don't have any “cool factors” that draw in the mass public; like I mentioned above everyone levitates towards the “game”.

    If Brightkite added a similar gaming model on top of their existing setup I think they'd begin to take a large chunk of the location based market.

  4. Jeff Hilimire on February 5, 2010 at 9:18 pm


  5. Tessa Horehled on February 5, 2010 at 9:23 pm

    If you want a more game environment, MyTown is definitely the answer. I got to max points on there and was ecstatic to delete it. Fun to play but served no purpose for me and consumed my time courtesy of some good competitive nature. Haha.

    I use FourSquare primarily for seeing where others are checking in and often find out about new restaurants, etc because of it, regardless of whether I am actually checking in myself. The only times I've gotten a new badge in the past six months has been while traveling. Have you seen the newly available badges since they merged the cities together into the open location model?

    Also, maybe you're not the target user. You are busy with other things in life that doesn't enable as active of a social or even mobile life on a regular basis and might not need the features that some of these services offer.

  6. Jeff Hilimire on February 5, 2010 at 9:29 pm

    You know what, busted, I never really tried Brightkite. I'm going to start playing with it to see what's up with it because you're not the first person to tell me its a great app.


  7. steveswanson on February 5, 2010 at 9:40 pm

    I'll do My town this weekend and let you know. Beth N HATES my updates, so your right!

  8. Jeff Hilimire on February 5, 2010 at 9:51 pm

    It's possible I'm not the target user, you're definitely correct. The question I'd ask then is, do these check in apps actually stop being useful once people “settle down” and get married and/or have kids? Is there an extension for that demographic?

  9. Jeff Hilimire on February 5, 2010 at 9:52 pm

    Well you know I like YOUR updates :)

  10. Tessa Horehled on February 5, 2010 at 9:54 pm

    Just because you choose to get married and have kids you lose your social life? That's completely up to the individuals. Does every tool have to have use across many demographics or can it be highly targeted towards an active urban lifestyle?

    (Also, do all of your dis.qus comments publish to Twitter?)

  11. Tessa Horehled on February 5, 2010 at 9:56 pm

    Brightkite used to be very useful but the key to any social app is that there has to be active participation to provide value for the user to engage or even open. The audience has just left. Those who continue to use Brightkite either do so because of it's completely awesome SMS check-in ability, lack of caring about FourSquare/Gowalla/MyTown/insert-app-of-the-week, or because their connections they're interested in engaging with have left or only sporadically update.

  12. Jeff Hilimire on February 5, 2010 at 10:06 pm

    Nope, you don't lose your social life if you have kids and get married, but, my guess is you go to less places than you do before that happens (gotta find sitters for example). I don't know many people with kids that could compete with single people for frequency of places visited. That's the main point, Foursquare stops being as fun when you can't get more badges or get mayorships. So I think Foursquare has to adapt or something, otherwise people will move to that point in their life where its less engaging as it used to be.

    re: Dis.qus, I tweet most of my dis.qus comments so that other people can join the comments/conversation. Many times people see a comment I tweeted and then jump back into the conversation.

  13. Jeff Hilimire on February 5, 2010 at 10:08 pm

    Agreed, I actually like Whrrl the best but no one uses it so I couldn't sustain.

  14. barkerja on February 5, 2010 at 10:12 pm

    I have a great community of friends that are very active. It's fun. And best of all, it can feed to all your other social networks (Twitter, Facebook, Flickr) and not just feed useless checkins but useful data (photos, notes).

    Also, it helps that I live in San Francisco that thrives on these sorts of sites, however when I go back home (eastern KY) I'm the only person that's active. :)

    But yes Jeff, should definitely give it a shot, it's addicting. And their mobile applications are nice as well.

  15. barkerja on February 5, 2010 at 10:20 pm

    Tessa I partially agree with you. Foursquare is still a one-man show. You don't really “participate” because there is no level of social'ness. You checkin, send a shout if you so desire and that's it.

    You have to rely on Twitter or other means to communicate with a user which is a terrible user experience imho.

    I really think Foursquare would benefit by adding the ability to comment on checkins and even allow photo posts. At least to me, it would make it a lot more useful. I could care less about becoming the mayor of my local 7-Eleven, but I do care about asking my friend what's going on at the bar he just checked into.

    Don't get me started about feeding such things to Twitter — that place is already too noisy as it, to the point to where I deleted Twitter.

  16. Josh Martin on February 6, 2010 at 7:51 pm

    Just saw this article on TechCrunch, where Foursquare is now doing over 1 million check-ins in a week. Looks like they are hitting a big growth spurt, similar to what we saw with Twitter. https://ow.ly/14CIz

  17. Greg H on February 8, 2010 at 10:14 pm

    I'm in the same boat as you, Jeff; I feel too old to get much out of Foursquare. And I think that really raises a question about their potential growth. Facebook started out being only for college students, but it was fairly easy for them to transition to a wider audience. It's hard to see Foursquare achieving that level of scale when the product, by its very nature, excludes such a large (and demographically valuable) group.

    Maybe it will evolve into something different and become more useful for us homebodies. But in its current incarnation, it's hard to see that happening.

  18. Jeff Hilimire on February 9, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    That's a great comparison Greg. I'm struggling with being “down” on Foursquare because I love the service and the idea of location-based apps/games/whatever is going to be a big part of our digital marketing future. I just struggle with the entertainment or engagement value if I barely go out and therefore can't compete. It's still nice knowing where my friends are but that will just move me toward being a lurker vs. participator.

  19. jonathankarron on February 9, 2010 at 7:13 pm

    I think FourSquare is the best of the bunch from what I've tested but we'll see how sustainable it is. If more restaurants, coffee shops, etc. really use it to drive frequency with discounts, meet ups, etc. it could continue to grow. Otherwise, it may just have appeal to a smaller, outgoing group.

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  21. GregH on March 9, 2010 at 5:02 pm

    Ha! Did someone say “useful for us homebodies”? (Why yes, that was me.) Check out Miso: https://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/miso_a_fou

    Still not sure I see the appeal, but I like that someone at least recognizes the importance of appealing beyond a certain demographic.

  22. dennisdube on March 11, 2010 at 10:36 pm

    Ok, Jeff, you are off the mark.

    Part of foursquare right now is scale….just as FB & Twitter weren't all that interesting in their early days, FourSquare only has 450K users….some active some like….well, you.

    They are still working through a revenue model, but the “special offer” tabs and distribution agreements offer an interesting aspect where they can and will attempt to influence your consumer behavior on where you shop and check-in. This past week, I noticed H&M has signed a deal with MyTown as well.

    Lastly, I think you are discounting the networking aspect. I've already made connections with two people (one who has knocked out of a mayorship and the other one runs a Social Media campaign for a large organization).

    So give it a chance…..keep checking in and we'll connect the next time we are nearby.

  23. Jeff Hilimire on March 13, 2010 at 5:13 pm

    One thing to keep in mind is that you live in the Valley or damn close to it, which makes apps like Foursquare more interesting because so many people use them.

    However, I see your point. So for me to get a use out of Foursquare either I need to start going out later and partying more, or more people in Atlanta need to start using it. If one of those things happen then I'll probably get into it again.

    OR if I'm at a conference, which is what I'm doing now (SxSW). I have been checking in all over the place and looking at who else is there. So its not that I don't appreciate the medium, but its hard to make it a consistent part of my life in its current state.

  24. ryanarndt on March 22, 2010 at 6:16 pm

    recently traveled overseas and was REALLY looking forward to some sort of travel bonus. Going from Vancouver, Canada to Sydney, Australia is a looooooong way, and so I was very excited to see just how many points I would get.

    How many did I get, you ask?

    Three. thats it. I got to Sydney, and it reset me from “Ryan of Vancouver” to “Ryan of Sydney.” srsly.

    that was the last time I touched it.

  25. […] brings me to my current topic, Foursquare. There are several reasons why some people don’t think this app is great, but for me personally, I think most of my uncertainty stems from the fact that I don’t […]

  26. hhotelconsult on April 1, 2010 at 9:01 pm

    I am fairly interested in Twhrrl…. I just want one simple network that works… FB is relentlessly awful, yelp is juvenile, etc etc….

    I am finally getting to the point where I don't really care about bringing my phone with me to places…. I am thrilled about that.

    Whatever the case… there was also the mayor of north pole that hacked 4square. I think this list is more “wah”-mbulance than the very impacting and problematic list of issues he points out. https://www.krazydad.com/blog/2010/02/mayor-of-t

  27. hhotelconsult on April 1, 2010 at 9:06 pm

    Another thing… the crisis in social media is that people think it's about themselves, and it's really about everyone else. If you don't like it, that is one thing. But you not liking it doesn't make it less impacting or less of a phenomenon. I am not sure if the post was meant to be constructive or just to vent steam…. but the whole point of these networks is that one person doesn't matter… it is the connected web of integrated interaction that makes it interesting. If I didn't comment here, someone else would have. Individual content means nothing – someone else will fill that void.

    But a strong networking effect and powerful new tool: that is interesting.

    I am supposed to be working anyway.

    Oh yeah… it doesn't matter because I am just one person but I don't really care either. And I am sick of people linking the twitter accounts.

    I am a big fan of native posting across all channels. It's vital.

  28. Michelle Batten on April 20, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    Jeff –

    I loved reading your post and thought you gave many valid points. I did not initially use Foursquare while in Atlanta for several of the same reasons you gave. Now that I'm moving to Chicago, it has become a wonderful discovery tool as well as a handy way to keep up with friends and colleagues like yourself :)

    I believe that location-based networks and marketing are inevitable, but in order for them to work long-term, utility has to be a much more central part of the experience for users as well as brands. I've listed out a few ideas on my blog here – bit.ly/a8KTvg Would love to hear yours and your readers thoughts along these lines.


  29. Jeff Hilimire on April 20, 2010 at 8:15 pm

    Everyone who contributed to the comments on this post should check out @imediamichelle's post on the topic: https://bit.ly/a8KTvg. Very solid stuff and hopefully the Foursquare folks read it. Some great ways that location based marketing can start being less “cool kids only” and more useful to the world.

    Where I'd like to take this conversation is…well I'm going to blog about it right now to get the conversation started.

  30. […] Regarding a travel opportunity still wide open for start-ups, I’m thinking something along the lines of Foursquare meets Geocaching meets a Buzz overlay on Google Maps that pulls in content (and revenue) from a DMO, a destination content supplier, and a mobile ad network. Foursquare have been getting an incredible amount of good publicity in the just over a year since they launched. Geocaching.com is taking the scavenger hunt into the 21st century. Someone even made a movie about it. Noticings is trying to make it more of a game and SimpleGeo is making it much easier to add geo-location into your app, but none of them have quite put it together in a way that could really work in travel – some Foursqaure users are even starting to get burnt out. […]

  31. Joe Hamm (@brohamm) on May 9, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    I'm tired of getting spammed by all of my friends' status messages! Such a pain:) The more people join the network, the more disruptive it becomes to my daily life. I've been manually disabling status messages for each user.

  32. Jeff Hilimire on May 11, 2010 at 3:53 pm

    Ryan, that's one of the reasons I'm down on Foursquare. There have been a few times I was psyched about traveling and either I didn't get much from the experience and/or there weren't many of the places I went to that were in the system, so it was a bit of a let down.

  33. Jeff Hilimire on May 11, 2010 at 3:54 pm

    That's both the best way for Foursquare and others to grow (by promoting check-ins to people's followers) and the biggest reason people will not want to use or keep using the service, because they are getting friend spam.

    Hey, I like that, “friend spam”…think I'll be using that soon ;)

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