Foursquare is the latest location-based social network buzzing internationally. Already a big thing in the U.S., it’s gaining users here too. As evidenced by the counter-attack launch of Facebook Places last week, it’s clearly establishing itself.
The idea is simple. Using your smartphone, you check-in to places in your city, alerting your friends on Foursquare to where you are. Every time you check in to a venue, bar, shop or cafe etc you receive points making Foursquare a real-time location-based game amongst your friends. If you visit a place regularly, you can become the mayor of that establishment, as well as the opportunity to unlock badges and, if the business avails of special offers, you can get discounts and half-price deals.
The key to getting the best of out Foursquare is to avoid most of the usual activity of social networks. Here’s Digital’s simple guide:
What happens on Foursquare stays on Foursquare
The fundamental difference between Foursquare and say, Facebook is the number of friends you should have. On Facebook, we are used to being added by strangers. On Foursquare though, the general rule of thumb is only add people as friends you actually know in real life – who you would actually go for a pint with, for example. The iPhone app for Foursquare alerts your friends to where you are and no-one wants complete strangers to know where they are at all times. In the same vein, don’t connect your Facebook and Twitter accounts to Foursquare either.
Your house is private
This one is common sense. A recent site called Please Rob Me highlighted the danger of letting people know you are not at home. Don’t check-in to your house unless you are having a party and want your friends to come. Certainly, don’t add the real address.
Play the game, socially
The gaming aspect of Foursquare is fun and encourages you to try out new places, explore your city and get out more. It’s also tempting to check in to the local shop when picking up a loaf of bread as you’ll get points but resist that urge. A general rule of thumb is only use it socially at galleries, gigs, bars, clubs, cafés, restaurants, landmarks and places of genuine interests. Check out the tips added by users nearby, you may find somewhere new and interesting and make sure you add relevant tips and new locations for your friends too.
You can get an account at Foursquare.com and apps are available for iPhone, Android, Blackberry and other devices.