A new design for a popular app is always good for generating buzz and renewing interest in the platform. Smartphone users love (or love to hate) the excitement of their favorite apps being updated and “new.” For business owners and brands, the excitement is probably tempered by the fact that they are once again in a catch-up position. So what does Foursquare’s redesign mean? How will it impact small businesses and locally-focused brands?
For the uninitiated, Foursquare is a location-based social networking application for smartphones. The company pioneered the concept of the social “check-in”. Now, after the much buzzed about death of the check-in, Foursquare is striking back with a complete overhaul of their app’s interface. Dennis Crowley, creator of Foursquare, acknowledged that users weren’t using the app for what it’s actually for—they weren’t “checking-in.” So, Foursquare’s development team stripped the app and started over. They streamlined navigation and put venue activity and the recommendations engine front-and-center.
The change is really more of a realignment, better positioning Foursquare in a landscape where word-of-mouth, targeted displays and multimedia content reign supreme.
Take a look at Foursquare’s left tab -- “Friends” is all about good old-fashioned word-of-mouth. The design is evocative of Facebook’s newsfeed. Foursquare’s activity feed is more prominent than before. Immediately upon opening the application, users can see where their friends are (or have been in the recent past).
Foursquare’s integration with Facebook and Twitter is seamless. If the app is synched with both accounts, each post is automatically re-posted unless the user chooses to deselect one or both networks.
So what does this mean for businesses that are indexed on Foursquare?!
For one, if people are checking-in at your business, there is a good chance that activity is also showing up on Facebook and Twitter, along with a map to your location. You get instant traction -- this is a modern YellowPage ad, fully paid and delivered without you doing anything more than making your business accessible to Foursquare users.
For an added bonus: give people something to talk about on Foursquare when they are at your location. Win the content battle. You won't have to worry (as much) about filling social media channels, if your guests are doing the heavy-lifting for you -- producing images + video + endorsements -- and posting it up to their social media accounts.
Smartphone users have developed a craving for intriguing design and beautiful spaces.
The redesigned Foursquare is much more graphics and photo - focused than before. The graphic elements are now larger, easier to see and easier to navigate. Also, everyone loves photos; digital marketers for Foursquare need to understand that with larger graphics and photography, user attraction will gravitate towards locations with the most interesting visual content.
A business's interior space and visual "personality" are an increasingly important component -- branding needs to flow from your physical, on-site location to traditional and new media advertising campaigns; it should all be consistent.
Targeted displays, more exploration
Interested in trying something new?
The middle tab, “Explore,” will do just that for Foursquare users. The Explore tab has been around for awhile, using your location and past addictions to automatically generate potential places for you to eat, shop and sightsee. Want to go clubbing? — you don’t even have to ask. The recommendations are ready-to-roll.
What’s cool about Foursquare is that the “Explore” feature is also influenced by a user’s friends and people within their network. Once again, businesses that empower tech and social media savvy visitors to use Foursquare are increasing the chances that they’ll be seen by people 1 to 2 degrees of separation away from their regulars.
The tab on the upper right connects with the user profile: manage settings, see friends, photos, tips, badges and lists. Similar to Pinterest’s layout, the redesign of Foursquare profile deck is sleek, simple and graphics-heavy. Badges and the "gamification" element don't seem to be driving Foursquare's redesign, but it's still a unique and intriguing element to the platform.
For the most part: Foursquare is in a prime location. Local businesses and brands should consider focusing some attention on the platform. The platform is free and open. See what people are saying, where they are going. Understand the emerging market in your town.
For more information on how Foursquare and other social media platforms may impact your brand or business, drop Verge Pipe Media a note via info [at] vergepipemedia [dot] com.
Article by: Stephanie Young, Summer 2012 Imagineer || firstname.lastname@example.org