Foursquare seems in a bit of a bother. Just very recently a mobile network provider told me about some of the work they are doing with retailers here in the UK. If you enter a store and you are with said network, you will receive a special offer. They can triangulate the individual within a 5 meter radius and overlay age and gender. There’s no check-in needed and it’s based on simple trigger marketing principles, obviously ensuring different messages for different visits, and targeted not only on acquisition but also retention and loyalty. Now that is powerful stuff – very targeted, very relevant and very timely and completely independent from the need of being a mayor. Just imagine once they overlay this with social data. It’s going to be like mind reading.
Obviously that only happens if you are with a specific mobile network provider, but if I were the retailer and I can see the benefits I can make these deals with every major mobile network provider. Or if I’m the network provider I can entice people because of the exclusivity I can offer and if need be, I just buy the records in a master-vendor agreement from the other providers.
The advantages of Foursquare are the recommendations and the social component of connecting with your friends. But this has been swiftly replaced and superseded by Facebook places. So whilst geo-location targeting is going into the next round, it will be interesting to see how Foursquare will fare in the face of competitors with better data, more convenience and higher user numbers.