See Your City with Foursquare

Andrew Lane is the Director of Digital Engagement at Weber Shandwick, a proud member of the Toronto tech community, and a Notable Tech Expert. Follow his notable advice for young professionals on the best ways to keep up with the fast-paced tech world.

It’s hard to imagine there was a time (and not that long ago) when you actually had to call all of your friends on a Saturday night to figure out your plans. Then came text messages, then Facebook, and then Twitter.

Now enter Foursquare.

Foursquare is the next hottest tech toy for your mobile phone that keeps you and your friends even more connected, without even needing to actually connect!

April 16 was the first ever Foursquare Day. Get it? 4/42. The surrounding buzz pushed Foursquare over 1,000,000 worldwide users. So while it’s still a long way off of the popularity of Facebook’s 400,000,000, Foursquare is coming, but it’s still early.

Foursquare allows you to “check in” at any physical location (or even some you make up) to let your friends know where you’re at, what you’re up to, and even what’s the best thing on the menu at your favourite restaurant. While some may feel it’s irrelevant or even creepy to let people know where you are at all times, I’d like to argue that it’s actually pretty great. Add in the privacy features that the platform allows, and you can limit your information to a trusted group of friends, or blast it out to the world. Totally your call.

Still not sold? Here are some cool features to get you hooked.

Earn yourself some merit badges
Foursquare let’s you earn “badges” for your social conquests. Hit the gym 10 times in a month and you earn the Gym Rat badge. Rack up enough frequent flyer miles and you’ll pick up a Jetsetter badge. Check in at three Starbucks around the city and unlock the Barista badge. With new badges coming from Foursquare all the time, as well as businesses, it’s your chance to show off just how much you run this town.

Be the Mayor of your own local
The person who checks in the most at any one location around the city becomes the Mayor of the place! Some of my friends have gotten absolutely hooked on Foursquare just trying to dethrone the Mayor of their condo, but imagine the honour of locking down bragging rights at your favourite pub, restaurant, or club around the city. The best thing is, as businesses jump on the bandwagon, being the mayor at some locales will even entitle you to discounts, free goodies, or even (and yes, I’ve seen this) a special cocktail just for you, Your Worship.

Add a Venue
Maybe your favourite hole in the wall isn’t already added to Foursquare. Not a problem. The platform allows you to add new venuesreal or made up. Add your car, your couch, your bed, whatever. Have fun with it!

See who’s in the house
When you check in anywhere, Foursquare will tell you how many others are already checked in there. If they’re on your friends list, you can even learn who they are. This is great at big events, or a great excuse for you to ditch the group (or bad first date) you showed up with. It’s also great when you notice a few of your friends are having a drink on a patio nearby when you’re strolling down the street looking for what’s next!

Learn some tips when exploring a new ‘hood
In addition to letting you “Shout” about where you are, you can also add tips to venues. This is especially great at restaurants where you can recommend the best dish on the menu (or ones to avoid). Even cooler, when you’re in a new neighbourhood, you can see tips from friends who’ve been there before and find the perfect place for a nice meal or a stiff cocktail!

Tell the world with Twitter or Facebook
If you REALLY want to promote yourself, you can choose to blast your updates out to Twitter, or to update your Facebook status. That said, watch out you’re not giving your aunt too much information, or simply overwhelming your (soon to be former) friends with update-overload. Linking to these platforms also makes it easy to find friends already on Foursquare when you first sign up.

If you’re anything like me, you love to be among the first on top of something new and cool, so here’s your chance. Get your friends together and get on Foursquareit’s a great new way to connect and explore the Tdot.

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