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How to best use Foursquare

May 6, 2010

Who should I be friends with on Foursquare? Where should I check-in? What other tips are there for Foursquare users?

Apart from those who are early adopters or work in social media, there are very few Australians who understand Foursquare, how it can benefit them and their business, and there are many who haven’t even heard of the social networking site.

Now I’m not going to explain the ins and outs of Foursquare, but if you really have no idea what it is you can watch the interview below with Co-Founder Dennis Crowley or read up on it here.

Who should I be friends with on Foursquare?

Foursquare will announce to your friends where you are whenever you check-in, unless you choose to make your check-ins invisible to your friends. So having said that, you need to assess whether or not you feel comfortable with having strangers know where you are at any given time.

Initially I only added to Foursquare people I actually knew for the main reason of privacy, but then I decided that it was often more interesting to see where others were checking in. This way you can learn about new places to dine, drink, shop etc. You often know where your real-life friends frequent anyway.

So make a decision about how much information you want to share with strangers; but remember, you probably already share this kind of information on Twitter so if that doesn’t bother you, then befriending randoms on Foursquare shouldn’t either.

Where should I check in?

The original concept was to check-in from restaurants, cafes, bars etc. however this has grown to include any location that a user visits. But check-ins at tram stops, bus routes and airport terminals I personally think is defeating the purpose of Foursquare. First of all, I don’t care about where on your public transport journey you are at and no amount of check-ins a tram stop might have is going to encourage me to visit it as the latest ‘it’ spot.

I also think there are a few locations to consider not checking in at, or at least if you do check in then keep the ‘off the grid’. These include going to the doctor, Centrelink and visits to your Colonic Irrigation Clinic (yes, I actually know someone who is the Mayor of the Camberwell Colon Care Clinic).

Should I check in at home and at work?

No.

But a lot of people do. I personally think that you should never give away your home address on the internet, regardless of who you think you might only be sharing it with. Some people disguise their home address by not entering the exact location, but even if it is impossible to tell whereabouts you live what is to be gained by checking in there? Yes you may become the mayor of your own house (I’d be worried if it were someone else) and it might score you some extra points but other than that it’s pointless. And kinda weird.

Also be aware that your address could already be on Twitter. I have seen locations before such as ‘John’s House’, which was created by one of John’s mates when he went over for John’s for a few beers.

As for work, again I don’t really like people knowing necessarily where my place of employment is, but aside from that I think that checking in from work a) is a given – it doesn’t surprise or interest anyone, and b) it robs your employer with the chance of utilising mayor specials for genuine customers if you’re always the mayor. Having said this, I used to check into work but have since stopped when I realised to be mayor of my work was kinda embarrassing. Checking in from work also doesn’t always give good insight to what type of person you are. It’s like Jason the Grade 2 teacher becoming mayor of Collingwood Primary School – makes it look like Jason is a creep who hangs around kiddies.

Other Foursquare tips

1. Don’t automatically post your check-ins to Twitter and Facebook. If your settings have this as a default, then log onto the web version of Foursquare and update your settings so you have to manually post to Twitter and Facebook if you choose. This way you won’t annoy followers/friends with a constant update of your whereabouts. I only post to Twitter when my location is really cool or funny.

2. Don’t post where you are if you don’t want people to know you’re there. For example, I recently picked up a surprise for someone of an Apple MacBook Pro. They knew it was coming but didn’t know when, so if I had checked in at Landmark Computers then it would’ve given away the element of surprise!

3. Leave tips for other people that are relevant and useful. Love a certain dish at a restaurant? Let us know! Thought the service was terrible? Let us know that too! One of the great things about Foursquare is it’s ability to give feedback on locations, I personally love using this function and appreciate those who leave tips behind for me to read.

4. Discover new places by going to places where others have suggested or reading the tips nearby. Use Foursquare as a way to get motivated to get out of your comfort zone and try something different. You’ll unlock new badges and get extra points too!

5. Check-in wherever you spend money – with the history section of Foursquare acting like a diary, you can always track where those dollars have gone!

I personally love using Foursquare and encourage you to have a play if you haven’t already. Oh and go ahead and add me as a friend, my username is ‘misscoca’!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 8, 2010 8:14 pm

    Thanks for this post! I’ve been curious about foursquare but unsure of what exactly it is. Really helpful, thanks!

    • May 8, 2010 11:53 pm

      I’m glad it was helpful! Foursquare is a really great way to discover new places. You should definitely give it a go, I think you’d like it. Plus I’d like to check out all the funky places you go to!

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