This is another new platform that is fairly simple in its concept. If you have the application on your smartphone, you can “check in” when you walk around to different places, for example from the grocery store to school, or to a bar or a concert. That means you are using your phone’s global positioning system to determine where you are. For example, if I am on 23rd Street and Broadway in Manhattan and I click on “places” in the foursquare app, I’ll see Madison Park and lots of delis, restaurants, and retail stores. Using a vast and constantly updated data bank, the phone can tell what’s around you. If I walk into a deli or go to a park, I can “check in” there, meaning that I can click on the name of the park and choose that as my location. I can also add a comment. Then when other people check in to the park, they can see my comment, and it may even help them. Perhaps I might comment, “Don’t eat the hotdogs at the stand on the northeast corner. They taste terrible,” or I might say, “Watch out for the rats coming out of the hole underneath the sculpture in the middle of the park.” Those comments are a way for people to tell each other what they think is good and what isn’t at any particular location. But there are many more components to foursquare that have contributed to its popularity.
If you check in to a location—say the park or a deli—multiple times, you may become the “mayor.” The title of mayor is given to the person who checks in the most times at any one location. You cannot check in more than once a day, to keep things fair, and you have to actually be there. If you become the mayor of a location or of many locations, anytime someone checks in at that spot, they will see that you are the mayor. This simple feature has caused people to check in everywhere and compete for the title of mayor. But there is another component that stores use and you can use it, too. Let’s say the local pizza place is on foursquare, which it most likely will be. The owner of the pizza place can post rewards on its place marker. For example, it could announce that whoever is the mayor of the pizza place gets a free slice or something like that. That makes more people who go there regularly want to “check in” so they can get their free slice. The pizza place benefits because more people are seeing check-ins at their restaurant, and it is becoming well known as a result. Like Facebook and Twitter, many of your friends may be on foursquare, and they will be able to see what you are the mayor of. Knowing that you go to certain places so often will make them consider checking them out as well.
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