Over the weekend, I took a trip to Minneapolis, MN. It was a very beautiful place, and somewhere I will definitely return. While I was out there, I was doing a little experiment with a social networking platform called Four Square. In all my time on social media, Four Square is one site I’ve never tried. I really don’t know why I never had, but I felt that this opportunity was better than any other to try it.
The Fun of Four Square
Four Square is a social networking platform where you “check-in” to places you go to, and score points. You can share these “check-ins” to your friends and followers. You can also see other people who are checked into your location. Check ins can be any places of interest: coffee shops, colleges, monuments, airport bathrooms, many other types of locations and even events. If you check-in enough times in one place you become the “mayor” of that place. This means you are the most frequent visitor to a given place. Sometimes businesses will give deals to customers who use for square. For example, if you are crowned the mayor of the Minneapolis airport, you win a free embroidered hat or polo shirt!
In addition to checking-in places you can earn badges. You can earn them for the number of check-ins you have in one day, or even the number of people that are present at a given time. You could earn special badges for being at specific places, or at specific events. For example, if you attended the Rally to Restore Sanity/Fear, there were special badges for just that event. There are even badges for specific places in specific cities. For example, if you check in at a taping of The Ellen Degeneres Show you will get a special badge!
It’s surprisingly a lot of fun. This app is great for someone who likes to travel a lot and brag to their friends about where they’ve been. It’s also fun for people who like to catalogue great places to recommend to friends. It really has a great aspect of making the social experience on and off the Internet. It also has integration to Facebook and Twitter (which is also a downside, see below), so you can share these locations with friends. I think it’s a fun way to travel, and I had a blast checking into new places on my trip. Plus the point system makes it somewhat competitive and a small incentive to get up and get away from your computer screen!
From the feedback I recieved and from conversations I’ve had with other users of Twitter about Four Square, it can be annoying. There’s not a lot of information that is really being shared, and sometimes there are a lot of posts if you post everything. There are options to turn this off, but not everyone uses them. I follow a number of Twitter accounts, where the majority of the posts are Four Square check-ins. I think that this is a major concern for Four Square. I think a rating system would be helpful at times, rather than sorting through a plethora of “tips” from friends.
I had a blast using it this past week. It’s a fun social media site, but I think it could be expanded upon or further integrated. Yelp and other restaurant rating services could be integrated. The tip system is great, but a rating system or integrating some other pre-existing service would make it stronger. I think that it’s great that Four Square is great for people who travel a lot and want to keep track of where they were. As for the spamming on the social networks, it’s on the user to make sure they don’t do that. Sometimes, that discretion is not always followed. I think the intent is to enhance an individual experience, but not always enhance everyone’s experience. I’ll continue using it, but I would still like to see Four Square integrated into other services that would allow me to see reviews from other sites.
I would like to thank my friend Brendan Murphy for helping me learn Four Square. He kept reminding me to check in, and a veteran of Four-Square. He also gave me some great advice on how to use it and not annoy your followers. I’d also like to apologize if I was annoying with my Four Square updates.