After 434 Checkins, 20 Photos, and 26 Badges I Love Foursquare More Than Ever

Listen, Foursquare doesn’t need any more cheerleaders, so that’s certainly not my point in writing this. Occasionally, I read something on the internet and I completely disagree with a point of a view. Even more rarely do I read something and feel the incredible urge to write a post explaining why I completely disagree. That happened again this morning when I read this post from Nat Salvione appearing on Business Insider.

Nat Salvione wrote a well thought out article about how he fell in love with Foursquare and then slowly fell out of love to the point where he just recently uninstalled the app. He details the 4 main reasons that led him down this path. Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion, but I take the opposite stance here.

After using Foursquare for a little over a year, I love the app more now than ever.

I know I am late to the game compared to many of my tech peers, but I initially found no interest in broadcasting my whereabouts to the world. After overcoming my initial hesitation, I made my first checkin at a NY Tech Meetup event over year ago and it’s been a fun ride ever since.

I initially thought I would need to be competitive with leaderboards, mayorships, and badges in order to continue to use the app. I also thought I needed to be social to get the most value out of Foursquare. It turns out to be just the opposite for me:

  • I have only 19 Friends on Foursquare (which is more by choice than my social ineptitude)
  • I am continually in the middle to bottom of the leaderboard (even though I only compete with 19 people)
  • I’m only the mayor of 3 places (a made up venue, and 2 of my old office locations)

All that being said, I am continuously amazed at all the value I find in the app that keeps me coming back. Here’s my four-point counterargument to Nat’s post:

  1. I find incredible value from Foursquare in single-player mode with no gamification or social features. I like giving them all of my location data without expectation of a monetary reward or any other type of real-world, tangible benefit. They give me things like this in return: my foursquare activities on Vizify
  2. Foursquare Explore has essentially replaced Yelp, Google and any other recommendation engine for me. When I was in SF for the first time, we used Explore to decide every single place we ate lunch and dinner, and it exceeded our expectations every time. I use it even more regularly when wandering around unfamiliar parts of NYC
  3. When I go to a new place for the first time, I always check out the Foursquare Tips for that location. It helps me figure out what’s the best item on a menu, if there’s anything I must do or try while I’m there, and just generally helps me get the most out of my visit
  4. Timehop. I love me some Timehop. It’s all about me — well 365 day old me. It helps me relive and remember so many memories. I find myself checking in much more frequently because I know that there are things I can’t wait to see in a Timehop email a year from now
  5. Bonus point: I know that the Vizify location visualizations and Timehop reminders are just starting to scratch the surface of what people will do to benefit me from my location data. The fact that they open their API for developers to build amazing things just enhances its awesomeness. Think about the future Nat!

I understand why Nat Salvione is quitting Foursquare. I think it’s something Foursquare is battling every day, and they need to do a better job because they still are losing completely engaged users like Nat. But I think Nat is doing it wrong through no fault of his own. I don’t think he is getting the full benefit of Foursquare. I won’t go into detail defending Foursquare from the first half of the article about how it won’t be around in a year (I think they will be just fine in case you were wondering), but for me Foursquare is becoming increasingly more valuable with every checkin.

Foursquare is staying on the home screen of my iPhone for two simple reasons: 1) I wish I started using Foursquare many years ago so it has more of my location data and 2) I wish I would remember to check in much more frequently.