Remember those friendships you had in high school that were constantly filled with drama and stressful falling outs and reunions? Well, Foursquare and I have been dancing that dance for the better part of two years now, and I am finally taking a step back and making a decision on where this check-in app and I stand.
For those of you who aren’t aware, Foursquare was the first mainstream application that allowed you to “check in” to a place via your smart phone. What makes it different from its biggest competitor, Facebook, is that the app has many gimmicky features, such as location “mayors,” Yelp-like tips and reviews, and rewards for checking into a certain place.
The app debuted 5 years ago and has had a tumultuous run to say the least. The app is currently boasting 25 million users, with 10 million being active, yet the app has still been plagued by missed opportunities in advertising and solid revenue strategy.
But I won’t get into the business side of Foursquare. The user experience is what I have most credibility in, having been a user of the app for quite some time.
My experience with the app started a couple of years ago when I started using Android. I was addicted to Foursquare’s features. I check in everywhere, attempting to become “mayor” of my favorite places, and I succeeded most of the time. I loved receiving discounts and free stuff from checking into places like coffee shops and clothing stores, and a lot of my friends were doing the same thing, resulting in an engaging, fun social network.
So what happened?
After a couple of months, the app wore me out. I started seeing less and less check-ins from different people. My friends were flocking from the app, and I started seeing check-ins from the same person checking into the same place they checked into yesterday. The notifications became incessant, and I quickly lost interest into what they had to say.
That was the inherent problem Foursquare always had with me. Eventually, we all run out of new places to check into, or reasons for checking into them. Being “mayor” rarely has any tangible perks, and if they do, the competition to receive the title is too high to bother with.
At a certain point, you’ve used up all of the deals and promotions from your favorite places, and you just don’t think about the app anymore, at least not positively.
Sure, I would boot up the app again while traveling, but those instances are too few and far between for the app to be invaluable to me. I’ve uninstalled and reinstalled the app countless times.
And it seems that Foursquare’s solution is to make the app look nicer. Every update and new release, while interesting and worth checking out, doesn’t make the inherent issues behind the user experience just go away.
At the same time, I’ve always rooted for the app. It’s the proverbial underdog as it is competing against Facebook’s larger network, and it has lost a lot of ground. I get the appeal, though, since Facebook is seamless and doesn’t pester you with notifications unless you will it.
The sad thing is that Foursquare does have better features and is a fun app to navigate recently, as they’ve really tightened up the interface.
I don’t have any solutions here. Sorry for the pessimism. Today I downloaded the latest update, even though I contemplated uninstalling the app just yesterday for constantly pestering me with notifications about the same person every time I check my phone.
At some point, Foursquare lost its magic with me, where I was perfectly alright with its integration into my life. I’m not hopeful it can achieve that again, but I’m a sucker for a good Cinderella story, which is why I’m still here.
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