This 2009 conversation:

Me: Are you on foursquare?
IRL* friend: Huh?

Reminds me of this 2007 conversation:

Me: Do you tweet?
IRL friend: Huh?

Is foursquare the next Twitter? Prominent technology blogger Robert Scoble says, via CNN, “Go back three years ago. Twitter was being used by the same crowd that is playing with Foursquare today.” According to social media blog Mashable, “Foursquare’s very much in the same boat as Twitter was two years ago.”

I agree. When I started tweeting in June 2007, no one knew enough about Twitter to disparage the service for bathroom or lunch tweets. Recently as an experiment, I’ve asked a few people I know about foursquare, with the same results. Blank stares. Questioning looks. And it annoys and embarrasses my children, which I think is a sure sign it’s the next big thing.

Las Tortugas in Germantown gets some well-deserved buzz

Check out the foursquare Web site to see more, but it’s a win for businesses and a fun diversion for ordinary folk. It’s currently only available for iPhone, but a BlackBerry version is reportedly coming soon.

Fun Factor

  • Frequent a place and you’ll become the mayor. There are already many places in some of the larger cities that offer freebies to the mayor. Just prove it by showing your smartphone and you’ll get a free drink, appetizer or other perk.
  • The competition — there’s a leader board for each city that shows you who has accumulated the most points. Points are accumulated by sharing tips, to-dos, and checking in at different locations around town.
  • Learn more about your city and your friends, as you discover new places and things to do. Twitter and Facebook integration lets you share with as many or as few of my friends as you desire.

Biz Win Column

  • The mayor can be unseated by a more faithful customer, which keeps people vying for the coveted spot. (Well, geeks covet it, ok?) Patrons update from a favorite hangout and their friends join them and buy more food/drinks/merchandise.
  • As more tips and to-dos are added, it becomes a local recommendation site for businesses and attractions that can create buzz and lead people to try new things and places. There is a details tab that links to a map and to the Yelp entry for that establishment.
  • Gain new new customers with no financial investment; powerful user-generated content increases credibility and visibility.

Overall Potential Coolness

  • Travel to other cities and find popular places only the locals know about
  • You are really cool in geek circles, at least until Oprah catches on
  • The all-important freebies


My badges so far — I’m working on it!

  • Be careful who you accept friend requests from. I’ve only become friends with people I know in real life or have known online long enough to be comfortable with sharing my whereabouts.
  • Don’t autopost everything — I have set my account to tweet when I earn a badge or become the mayor, not to pull each and every update.

OK, the Challenge:

Who will be the first Memphis establishment to offer a freebie to the Mayor?

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