Have you ever wanted to be a mayor? Wouldn’t it be great to be a mayor and not have to run in an election, but reap the benefits? Would you like primo reserved parking spots? Free meals at your local restaurants? Free drinks at your local pub? Then check out Foursquare!
How It Works
Foursquare is a location-based app that is available on iPhone, Android, Nokia, Blackberry, Palm and Windows phones. A mobile site is available for other model phones. After you download the app and sign up for an account, you can “check in” to local businesses such as stores, restaurants and museums. That’s where the fun begins.
After you set up your account, head to a place with a lot of stores, such as a shopping center or retail section of a city. Open the app and press OK when it asks to use your Current Location (see Apps: To Push or Not to Push?). A list of stores in your vicinity will appear. You can check in to your favorites to earn badges and get special offers. Some businesses will offer deals to Newbies, such as 10% off your purchase. Your check ins only count once a day and you can only check in to a limited number of places at one time, so be mindful of where you check in.
Foursquare is available internationally as well as in the US. Many countries are currently covered by Foursquare and its coverage is expanding rapidly.
If you check in to a spot more frequently than anyone else over 60 days, you can become Mayor. You also need to have a photo on your account, but the photo doesn’t have to be of your face. Your photo could be of your dog, a tree or Mayor McCheese.
Earning this esteemed title may entitle you to a premium reward such as discounts and reserved seating and parking spots. Some restaurants offer their Mayors free food or drink during their entire reign as Mayor. One of our local restaurants offers a $25 gift card every Sunday to its Foursquare Mayor. In other words, it can be a big deal to be Mayor so if you have a favorite spot you visit frequently, see if they participate in Foursquare and start checking in every time you visit.
Your quest for Mayor may not be easy though. The competition for the position at popular Foursquare locations may be intense. For example, if you are trying to become Mayor of City Hall in New York, you will have plenty of competition, including Mayor Bloomberg who is a big fan of Foursquare.
As you continue checking in, you can earn various badges along the way:
These badges may bring special discounts or may just end up being a source of pride. There are those who really enjoy the thrill of earning the badges along the way and collect as many as they can.
If you check under Places, you can see what special deals are being offered for checking in. A local ice cream store near me offers a 10% discount just for checking in. A gas station offers a five cent discount per gallon for checking in, if you purchase a drink. Our local Radio Shack is offering 20% off for checking in for the first time and 20% off for its Mayor.
Another great way to use Foursquare is for Tips. Are you visiting a restaurant? Check out the Foursquare Tips for recommendations on special dishes. We visited a local restaurant and were guided to a delicious Chicken Marsala dish thanks to a helpful Foursquare Tip. Other Tips can offer advice on where to park and where to find the best prices on products. Make sure you leave some Tips for other Foursquare users to pay it forward!
Foursquare lets you connect with friends through Facebook, Twitter, email addresses or cell phone numbers. If you add friends, you can send out notices through Foursquare to meet you at a certain place or to just let them know that you are nearby. Foursquare is a handy way to get together with your best buddies, but you can also disable this feature if you want to grab a quiet cup of coffee on your own.
Because Foursquare needs to use your Location Services to work, you need to enable this feature. But using Location Services can drain your battery so make sure to close the app if you are not using it. (See, Tech-Knowledgy: Facebook Etiquette, App Advice and More! for information on how to close apps.)
If you are concerned about your privacy, there are ways to protect your information on Foursquare. First, you don’t have to use your full name. You can use just your first name or a user name. I am not using my real name, but that’s unintentional, I’m just a horrible typist on the iPhone keypad.
Other ways of protecting your privacy include using a picture of something other than your beautiful face and not connecting with friends. But if you don’t connect with your friends, you may be missing out on the opportunity to meet up with your best friend Murph who happens to be at the mall the same time you are!
Also consider that the information you provide to retailers through Foursquare is much less than if you use discount cards at grocery stores, pharmacies, etc. which track all of your purchases.
Foursquare offers discounts, rewards, tips, socialization, badges and fun. If any or all of these sound good to you, download the Foursquare app and give it a try!
* Images by Dennis Crowley