Commentary

20 Confessions Of A Super Mayor

Over Memorial Day weekend, I reached one of those coming-of-age milestones that only a Social Media Insider reader could appreciate: I became a Super Mayor.

I'll wager you're in one of three camps right now:

  • You're yawning. You became Super Mayor a year ago, and admitting I just did this is like a one-time high school prom king bragging that he lost his virginity... at age 25.

  • You're scratching your head, unaware that Super Mayor is a Foursquare badge earned for holding down ten mayorships simultaneously. The mayor, a title earned for the most loyal recent visitor to a given location, earns bragging rights and sometimes additional perks.

  • You empathize, recalling your own recent triumph, or you're looking forward to joining that badge holder's club someday.

    In light of the achievement, it's a good occasion to reflect on what the badge means beyond the sum of its pixels. Here's one Foursquare user's tell-all.

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    1) I became much more aggressive about checking in when I knew I was in the running for Super Mayor.

    2) I haven't earned a single tangible reward for being the mayor of a location.

    3) I tried telling one Indian restaurant staffer how Foursquare worked, secretly hoping for a perk. He then left to work at another restaurant before I could get him on board.

    4) The reasons I use Foursquare, in order: finding tips at places I'm visiting, the serendipity of badges, seeing where friends are, earning mayorships, discovering new businesses, and staying current for my job.

    5) Leaving home helps earn mayorships. There's much more competition for mayorships in major cities, so I spent a while in New York without any mayorships at all. Vacations to Miami and Atlantic City helped pad my count. Atlantic City was especially interesting. I got a cheap mayorship by adding my grandmother's Boardwalk high-rise in Ventnor and then "owning" the nearby Mento's Ice Cream & Water Ice, but I couldn't snag the Wawa's across the street, nor Tony's Baltimore Grill near the Tropicana.

    6) If you're at a doctor's office, especially one where they don't treat highly communicable or embarrassing diseases, that's a great time to check in. By the time I got LASIK in April, I was handily mayor of Dr. Pamel's office.

    7) My wife, hooked on Facebook and a casual tweeter, can do without Foursquare entirely. She can also do without me getting so obsessive over it, especially since I'm often checking in with multiple apps.

    8) I'm not sure the number of times I've checked in from bathrooms, but I have made several bathroom visits just to check in.

    9) I don't like services where you check in to multiple places at once. For the best apps -- Foursquare, Gowalla, Whrrl, and SCVNGR among them--- there are value propositions unique to each service that span utility, social currency, and fun. I also don't trust geolocation data to be consistent enough across apps.

    10) I can't stand Foursquare addicts who auto-post their locations to Facebook and Twitter. I'll do this selectively, as when I visited Sprinkles Cupcakes in Dallas on Saturday.

    11) I used to auto-post updates for mayorships and badges to Facebook and Twitter. Then I felt these updates were happening too frequently and I stopped automatically sharing them. Then I got annoyed that I had no way of easily sharing my milestones, including becoming Super Mayor.

    12) I'm only somewhat embarrassed about all the thought I've put into auto-posting Foursquare updates.

    13) I've never falsely checked in at any location, though I have done so by accident. One social norm on Foursquare I've always wanted to violate but never did was checking into places from which I've had food delivered.

    14) On a few occasions, I've picked up food instead of having it delivered just to earn or maintain a mayorship.

    15) The coolest place I ever became mayor of was Madison Square Park. I earned it right before I spent a week in Miami and never got it back.

    16) I seldom check into Madison Square Park anymore. It's such a beautiful park that I'm trying to make it a gadget-free zone for me.

    17) Getting out of the running of mayorships for places like the park and 360i's headquarters made me less inclined to check into those locations.

    18) I don't get what happened at 360i. I had dozens of check-ins there before anyone cared, and I became mayor for about a second. Then my colleagues Matt Wurst and Meg Minuskin got into it and had a battle for mayor, and I was forever out of the running. Whenever I see my check-in total for the office, well into the triple digits, I feel a tinge of resentment at Foursquare.

    19) The same thing happened to me with my apartment building. Not that I'm bitter or anything.

    20) There's an upside to the last two points: it got me out of the habit of checking into my office and home. I know, it's lame.

    Maybe all of this is lame. Foursquare's compelling, though, both for the fun and utility, and it can change consumer behavior. Side effects include addiction, competitiveness, serendipity, bitterness, and the potential for it to get inside your head so much that you'll wind up writing your own Foursquare confessions.

  • 11 comments about "20 Confessions Of A Super Mayor ".
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    1. Gary milner from The Simpler Way, June 8, 2010 at 11:58 a.m.

      Quite frankly im already tired of seeing updates from people as they move from place to place ...i signed for professional networks such as linked in to read stimulating content. Not to monitor their personal habits. Im sure this will find its place but not as a GPS tracking device for extended social networks.

    2. Steve Phelan from Your CMO, June 8, 2010 at 12:07 p.m.

      You're right. It's incredibly lame. Imagine what you could do with all that effort if you put it into something useful?

    3. Lisa Gansky from Lisa Gansky Photography, June 8, 2010 at 12:09 p.m.

      Saw a duplicate entry for L'Annam, so just marked it for merge. ;-)

    4. Chris Stinson from Non-Given, June 8, 2010 at 12:24 p.m.

      95% of all ideas are bad.

      This is one of the worst.

    5. Scott Germaise from OpenSky, June 8, 2010 at 12:28 p.m.

      Are you sure regarding your reasons? It seems "and staying current for my job." is the most likely; with the possible exception of just a random 'new thing' addiction. Then again, you could be straight up about this. I myself have justified my use of Farmville by saying crap like "I really need to understand the gaming motivations and reciprocal giving economy as part of my job." Yeah. Right. This is why I'm concerned I might miss my Watermelons coming up because I'm at a conference tonight and might not be able to log in. (Where's my damned iPad already???)

      Anyway, anyone seemingly extolling the vagaries of the Checkinrati should tip a hat to Dave McClure's post: "Check-Ins are Coupons. Game Mechanics are Bullshit. Show Me The MONEY or Go Home (Loser)." where he subtly says, "no way any normal motherfucker is gonna do this check-in shit."

      http://500hats.typepad.com/500blogs/2010/04/checkins-are-coupons.html

      Personally, I'm not sure the cussin's needed. But he does make his points in his own special way. By the way, I don't think anyone's coined "Checkinrati" so that potentially additional stupid meme is mine. Now maybe it's time to go Check In at the Shake Shack.

      Scott

    6. Scott Waxenberg from TBG Digital, June 8, 2010 at 12:35 p.m.

      I think you are seeing a trend here, David. Even though I've only dabbled in FourSquare I'm already bored with it and just not interested seeing updates from friends when they are on Metro North or at their own apartment building or office. Now if they were checking in on a flight to Paris or at a Michigan football game I might pay more attention! So...maybe FourSquare isn't for all of us but I do think there will be a core group that will continue to use it. I'm betting it's the 18-34 crowd. I'd also like to hear of any marketing success stories using location-based services. If you've got 'em please share in a future Insider column.

    7. Curtis Brubaker from BCAT, llc, June 8, 2010 at 1:02 p.m.

      The author seriously needs to get a life.

    8. Leyla Arsan from Lotus Marketing, June 8, 2010 at 1:15 p.m.

      I agree with Curtis, what a lame post. I cannot believe I read the entire thing.

      And... I love Foursquare but who cares about all the places this guy checked into and places he didn't check in to.

      http://www.leylaruinseverything.com

    9. Brendan Donoghue from Rodale, June 8, 2010 at 1:54 p.m.

      I'm calling the future now. There will be a Four Square thief or crime syndicate. Oh your at the Burrito Box? Sweet I'll just break into your place while your there. Why this hasn't happened yet I can only assume is because the cops haven't pinpointed it yet. This will also show up on Law and Order a year from now.

      There's the future.

    10. Jaymie Esch from Blue Grove, June 8, 2010 at 2:32 p.m.

      There's a fourth category: User of Foursquare who knows the badges but doesn't care or try to get them. If you see my Foursquare, it is a daily Starbucks check-in, with a rare other place (being unemployed eons and having anxiety disorder means you don't get around.)

      I see 4sq as a way to support a brand- I live near East Lansing, where Biggby's coffee was founded as a Starbucks competitor. Because locals want to support the home-based store, they cheer Biggby's on and rip Starbucks. I use Foursquare to show my loyality, and point out fun facts like the largest mocha at Biggby's, made with lower quality beans than Starbucks, is smaller, made weak, and costs $4.78ish to Starbucks' $3.98 equivalent (w/reuseable cup discount of .10€.)

      The "Foursquare as Crime Tool" is ONLY valid if you reveal where you live, which is a no brained not to do. It also doesn't indicate if anyone else is waiting at the home or how many dogs or traps may await would be criminals. The only true threat from Foursquare is someone who takes umbrage with you coming to your location and gunning you down- but if they're throwing their life away like that, they'd do it without Foursquare.

      Still, many of us don't rush or feel any need to claim badges- if we get one, so be it!

    11. Robert Gourley from Mojave Interactive, June 8, 2010 at 6:42 p.m.

      I think you of deserve our Foursquare t-shirt: http://bit.ly/aXmGlY

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