In a post-Facebook world, just about anything is capable of happening. The unprecedented growth of various social media’s has yielded a great amount of interesting ideas. But more importantly, many of these are being favourably approached by users. And with usage constantly growing, representing hundreds of millions of individuals, it almost seems like a sure bet. The current level of opportunity could quite well make anything possible.
It’s this same notion of opportunity that got me thinking during Evan Cohen’s presentation last week at the Pivot Conference. For those of you who don’t Evan is, he’s the general manager of foursquare. And for those of you who don’t know what foursquare is, in a nutshell, it’s a mobile based application platform that it is integrated with a sense of social media allowing it’s users to “check-in” at different locations, explore cities, stay up-to-date with where there friends are, special offers and much more that can be found here.
foursquare is undeniably an interesting idea. As their about page states, as of August 2010 they have close to 3 million users worldwide. That’s no small feat in itself. The opportunities that potentially exist here are countless and extraordinary. However, at the same time when it seems like an opportunity that shouldn’t be overlooked, we shouldn’t be blinded by it either.
There’s no doubt “place media” has some positive and lucrative potential. And as Evan pointed out during his presentation, foursquare is leading the place media charge. Not only can place media such as foursquare increase business through valuable foot-traffic, amongst other avenues, it allows businesses to leverage consumership to a great extent.
To paraphrase Evan here, foursquare is a great opportunity for companies, brands, products and business alike. I really have no problem with that whatsoever. What I did find highly fascinating though was there was hardly any mention of the end-user. Like I said, I’m in favour of opportunity for business. But what about opportunity for the user?
Yes, the user gets special offers for their participation. And the fortunate few that can become “mayors” of various locations, do incur some special treatment. Though, I don’t think the same opportunity exists for the user as it does for business. In fact, I don’t think the majority of Millennials, myself included, resonate with this and with anything foursquare offers.
There’s a few realities to why this is. Most immediately, our understanding of what foursquare is and what it offers. With mobile phone penetration at the tipping point, chances are we already know where all our friends are, as we text and BBM on an incredible basis. Once you combine that with Facebook and even Twitter, simply on this basis, many Millennials have no need for it. The common sentiment is no one really cares about where you go. Nor do we care to tell everyone where we go. Well, sometimes for bragging purposes. But even then we don’t really care.
The other component foursquare is notably known for is the special offers you receive for checking-in to a location. Whether that be some sort of immediate savings or eventual offering after a series of check-ins at a particular location, amongst the speciality treatment mayors receive, none of this can be translated into something enticing enough for Millennials. Especially, since only as a user would you even know about the offers that exist. While at the same moment everyone is being bombarded by the ever mushrooming variants of loyalty and discounting programs.
At a time when social media has become a facet of everyday life and smart phone growth is ballooning, Millennials have yet to find any need or reason for really wanting to join foursquare. I’m as savvy as they come and I’ve hardly considered it. Even as a niche idea, you can hardly expect your niche users to always and continually support your business. Yes, for business, the opportunity is there. But until that opportunity reflects the customer, until that opportunity represents an user-centric approach, don’t expect the Millennials to be checking-in any time soon.