Check-ins on Foursquare answer one central question: Where are you right now? But they provide little substantive information on what you're doing there. Check in at Madison Square Garden, for example, and that's all your friends will be able to glean. Are you at a Rangers or Knicks game? A monster truck rally? A Katy Perry concert? Who knows?
Foursquare check-in location data is divorced from events--and the 10-million-user-strong social network knows that needs to change. "We're working with our partners right now to get the data to make check-ins much more interesting," Jonathan Crowley, director of business development for media and entertainment, said last week at Bryant Park's breakfast briefings series. "Foursquare needs to know what's happening."
In other words, Foursquare wants to tweak its service so you're not checking in at Madison Square Garden, but at the Katy Perry concert at Madison Square Garden. The New York-based startup had noticed a trend of users checking in at venues but then "Shouting," or leaving comments, to friends about what they were doing. Foursquare wants to streamline that process by incorporating events into its location check-ins for a variety of entertainment industries, including music, movies, and sports.
"We noticed users were checking in at a movie theater like AMC, and announcing or "Shouting" on Foursquare, 'Hey, I'm at the Harry Potter movie,' or 'I'm seeing Fast Five.' We would see check-ins at Bowery Ballroom, the Staples Center, MSG, Mercury Lounge--people announcing who they're going to see--The National, or LCD Soundsystem's final show at Terminal 5," Crowley said. "What we're looking to do is make that check-in a lot easier and a lot more seamless."
Not only does Foursquare hope to provide a more convenient and interesting check-in experience for its users, but a more beneficial one for its brand partners. "You can imagine going to a concert and being able to check in to an LCD Soundsystem show--the marketing that that would do for them, in terms of, you see a thousand people at that show check in, and they push that to Twitter and Facebook," Crowley explained. "Now your Twitter stream isn't filled with, 'I'm checking in at Terminal 5'--what does that do for LCD? Now it's, 'I'm checking in at the LCD Soundsystem concert at Terminal 5.' You're incentivizing your concertgoers to be that natural marketing army for you."
The shift will also help Foursquare provide more relevant deals and rewards. "Let's say Ke$ha goes on tour," Crowley said. "If 500 people check in together [at the concert], we're going to give you a link to a song you can download, or [a link to] the live set that you're seeing right now--it'll be available two hours after the show for $5."
It's doubtful, however, that anyone will be able to become the mayor of Ke$ha. No one is the boss of her!
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