Commentary

20 New Confessions Of A Foursquare Super Mayor

Congrats, Foursquare, on reaching the 10 million user milestone. It's an impressive feat, as your momentum took off even as Facebook launched its rival check-in and deals programs. If anything, your competition is lighter now than it has been for years, as also-rans have sputtered.

As for me, I still can't quit you. It was just a year ago when I listed 20 confessions of a Super Mayor after earning a virtual badge for being the most frequent visitor of  10 separate locations. Somehow, I still rank as a Super Mayor. On this occasion, with Foursquare's user count roughly six times what it was a year ago, here are 20 more confessions.

1) I'm now the mayor of 11 locations, up from the 10 just over a year ago.

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2) I expected that I'd be the mayor of fewer places after hitting the milestone, given Foursquare's user growth and my own waning interest in checking in just for the sake of being the mayor. Sometimes I'm wrong.

3) I didn't know how many mayorships I had now until I started writing this. I swear.

4) Of my four mayorships in New York City, one is for my favorite office lunch spot, Salume (more on that below), another is for a location in 360i's former office, a third is for an event that is long over, and the last is for my dentist's office.

5) If you follow me on Foursquare or Foodspotting, you'll see how I can maintain the mayorship of my dentist's office. Granted, I'm hoping 23andMe will tell me I can blame genetics.

6) Outside of New York City, I'm the mayor of my parents' building and two grandmothers' buildings. I am totally fine with that. At least I can prove to my family that I visit.

7) I have two retail mayorships, one for Atlantic City's J. Crew Factory and the other for the area's broader outlet stretch called The Walk. For those unfamiliar with The Walk, it probably attracts the lowest proportion of smartphone users in any retail environment not catering to the Amish.

8) The final two mayorships are for hotels in South Africa and Zanzibar. They both had great WiFi. Those mayorships won't last forever, as another Foursquare user is bound to stay there longer. Mayorships are fleeting but memories last forever.

9) A year ago, I hadn't earned a tangible reward for being the mayor of a location. I still haven't. But sandwich shop Salume did reward me with a bottle of sparkling water on my fifth check-in. I believe that's the only loyalty deal I have received through Foursquare.

10) I'm way too easily susceptible to gamification, and I don't even like the word. When a Foursquare update earlier this year reemphasized points as a form of bragging rights, I started caring about points again. I've never been the point leader among my Foursquare friends, but I've been in the top three a few times.

11) I've done some rough mental calculations on whether it's better to earn more points for checking in with friends you haven't seen in a while versus earning points for being the first of your friends to check in somewhere. I'm pretty sure the points favor people with fewer friends. I haven't yet defriended people to earn points, but I've considered it.

12) Foursquare caps your friends at 1,000, which is fine with me. What annoys me is that while it keeps warning me that my 700+ friends have me nearing the limit, every time I approve or reject a friend request, it suggests new friends. Stop suggesting new friends if I shouldn't have more! And also, follow Facebook and LinkedIn and let me at least reject suggestions so you don't show me the same people I don't need to connect with there.

13) I was relieved when Whrrl was acquired by Groupon, as I no longer needed to use that check-in app. One down.

14) I basically stopped using Gowalla during South by Southwest this March. If it couldn't break through in its hometown of Austin during that geek getaway, it wasn't worth focusing on.

15) For a while, I enjoyed the Yelp check-ins, but I've generally stopped using it for checking in too. It was telling when I met someone at Yelp promoting their mobile services but had barely checked in at all.

16) I'm not particularly interested in badges, though they're fun enough. I still wish I could selectively share badges through Facebook and Twitter; today it's an all or nothing option, and I keep it turned off.

17) The most unexpected badge I received was an Ellen DeGeneres badge earned at the Hong Kong Museum of History.

18) When someone follows me on Twitter and I see a large percentage of their posts are Foursquare check-ins, I know not to follow them.

 19) If we're not Facebook or Twitter friends, there's no way I can realistically friend you on Foursquare. If you really don't know me, I welcome being followed (in the Twitter sense, not the sense of lurking behind me on my way home from work). For that matter, don't send LinkedIn requests to strangers either. Please.

20) My biggest change in Foursquare usage is that I now routinely rely on it for recommendations, often instead of Yelp and other local services. It's helpful to see what's popular and where your friends have been.

That wraps the latest confessional. If Foursquare continues its hot streak, there will be many more to come.

5 comments about "20 New Confessions Of A Foursquare Super Mayor".
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  1. Paul Benjou from The Center for Media Management Strategies, June 21, 2011 at 2:27 p.m.

    How old are you???

  2. David Berkowitz from MRY, June 21, 2011 at 2:42 p.m.

    Why Paul, I hate to break it to you, but I'm taken.

  3. Paul Benjou from The Center for Media Management Strategies, June 21, 2011 at 3:56 p.m.

    I ask because the post reads like the mis-adventures of a kid caught up in a game with no redeeming value....and I too am fortunately taken.

    I would agree that the app is useful for local recomendations ... but seriously David .... mayorships, badges and mayor of your parents building?

    Thr shine is off this puppy and unless it morphs into something more serious I doubt it will be around in a couple of years.

  4. Michael Strassman from WGBH, June 24, 2011 at 10:19 a.m.

    Rome had the games to distract the populace from the empire's decline...we have stupid #$@!-ing social games...has so much energy ever been directed so uselessly? Do we have nothing better to do with our time and money? Is it any wonder people in this country can't/wont tackle the problems facing it or make anything more impressive than a really cool app? In a word...depressing.

  5. Steve Schildwachter from BrightStar Care, June 24, 2011 at 3:23 p.m.

    David, thanks for continuing to update us on your Foursquare adventures. Myself, I'm in a sort of self-imposed Foursquare 12-step recovery program. Went cold turkey back in March and have watched my mayorships expire since then. Why? One signal was that my 4-year-old son reminded me to check in everywhere we went. The real reason was that I just didn;t see the point personally or from a marketing standpoint. Few companies were leveraging it. Perhaps this will change with the news this week that Amex is launching a partnership, but we'll see. http:/twitter.com/SteveS1

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