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How Companies Are Using Data From Foursquare

Roblimo posted more than 3 years ago | from the where-did-you-go-today? dept.

Businesses 69

wjousts writes: Technology Review reports on how businesses use data from all those Foursquare check-ins. "Merchants can analyze various metrics over time, including how many check-ins are recorded each day, who the most recent and most frequent visitors are, how visitors who check in break down by gender, and what time of day the most people check in; businesses with multiple locations can aggregate statistics to fit their needs. Foursquare provides the same platform 'for Joe's coffee shop and Starbucks,' says Eric Friedman, Foursquare's director of business development, but companies use the tools and data in different ways, depending on their specific objectives. "

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'Biased' data (1)

OverlordQ (264228) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228774)

I dont see how any of these metrics are actually useful in business decisions. What percentage of people actually check in, and of those that do, I bet they actually share quite a bit in common.

Re:'Biased' data (3, Insightful)

eepok (545733) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228814)

This information is great for overwhelming business owners with unsolicited consultant proposals!

A advertising/marketing/efficiency/etc. consultant can use all those useless measurements, make assertions about their implications, write a fancy lingo-ridden cold-call proposal (synergize your cost potentials!), and get a contract. It's great for (their) business.

I concur (1)

mfh (56) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228990)

You hit the nail on the head!

Consultants looooove these kinds of metrics because they can spend a half-hour with a customer bombing them with intelligent-looking numbers and then go have lunch. At no point during this exchange will anything business related have transpired, apart from the consultant's bill.

Re:'Biased' data (3, Funny)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | more than 3 years ago | (#36229242)

This information is great for overwhelming business owners with unsolicited consultant proposals!

A advertising/marketing/efficiency/etc. consultant can use all those useless measurements, make assertions about their implications, write a fancy lingo-ridden cold-call proposal (synergize your cost potentials!), and get a contract. It's great for (their) business.

Well, the actual value is in aggregating the data with other information to identify trends that can be applied other within the same socio-econoic demography to extract value from them by offering targeted offerings that trigger desirable pre-defined responses which result beneficial economic transactions to the offerer. By identifying such markers you can maximize the synergies inherent in the cross-functional sharing of data designed to optimize the customer experience and increase the value to the enterprise.

Re:'Biased' data (1)

eepok (545733) | more than 3 years ago | (#36229492)

Normally, I'd vomit at the sight of so many weasel words, but I saw what you were doing there and appreciate it. ;)

Re:'Biased' data (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36230848)

Now you know how most people feel reading EFF screeds and RMS missives.

Re:'Biased' data (1)

todrules (882424) | more than 3 years ago | (#36230590)

SOLD!! You got the contract! I don't know what you said, but our business needs it.

It is VERY VERY Accurate! (-1, Troll)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 3 years ago | (#36229178)

...if your target metric is trendoid self-absorbed hipsters.

Re:It is VERY VERY Accurate! (1)

Dogtanian (588974) | more than 3 years ago | (#36231804)

...if your target metric is trendoid self-absorbed hipsters.

No kidding... shortly after I first heard about FourSquare [theonion.com] and realised that it *hadn't* actually been made up by The Onion, the first thing I thought was "that's... *very* Nathan Barley". [wikipedia.org]

Pecantically, it's more like a slightly smarter version of Nathan Barley from the early-2000s grew up a bit (without becoming any more likeable) and decided to make some money by exploiting today's early-twentysomething, wannabe narcissistic tossers, i.e. the Nathan Barley: The Next Generations.

Barf.

Re:'Biased' data (2)

wjousts (1529427) | more than 3 years ago | (#36229342)

I think this is a very relevant point. Any statistician will tell you that you can't cherry pick your samples of a population if you hope to learn anything about that population. Even if it's your samples themselves that are doing the picking. Much like how online polls are a waste of time.

Re:'Biased' data (1)

meta-monkey (321000) | more than 3 years ago | (#36229538)

What they probably have in common is that they're your best customers. The ones who like your operation and care enough to engage you with positive feedback and announce to all their friends and family that they're shopping at your store...those kinds of evangelists for your product are worth their weight in gold. Identifying and pandering to the people who like your store the best and will spend the most money at it and bring in the most new people is kind of the holy grail of advertising.

Re:'Biased' data (3, Interesting)

stonewallred (1465497) | more than 3 years ago | (#36230186)

Using your "good" customers to bring in new customers is a winning game, as long as you continue to provide the same level of service.

I send out and/or drop off cards to my "good" customers at least once or twice a year.

They are simple business cards with my standard business card on the front and on the back a 20% discount, parts and labor, printed on the back.

I take the time to write the customer's name I am sending them to on the card. And the letter I include with the card tells them that if they like my service to please give out the card to folks who might need my services.

And for every card that is turned in, they will get $20 bucks.

I usually spend around 300-400 bucks a year redeeming those 20 bucks a pop cards.

And they usually generate me 80-90 bucks gross profit after the 20 buck payout and 20% off per card.

Foursquare Demographics? (2)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228824)

    That's odd.

    All I've seen of Foursquare is that a limited number of people ever check in from any place that I've spot checked.

    Some of us cheat it anyways. There's a workaround for checking in places that you aren't physically at. So I check in at arbitrary places, preferably at or very close to government facilities that makes the tinfoil hat crowd go nuts. So, following my "trail" shows me being anywhere but where I actually am.

    I'm fond of companies tracking us and selling that information. I'm happier when I've seeded their data with so much false information that it's virtually impossible to guess which is right.

  And it's not that I'm one of the folks wearing a tinfoil hat too tight. I just like privacy. I don't think the government is following me. They already know where to find me. :) It's pesky people like private investigators working for someone trying to make easy money through bogus lawsuits. Go ahead, follow the trail. It's good for dealing with crazy ex-girlfriends too. :)

Re:Foursquare Demographics? (2)

alen (225700) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228958)

just because someone cares exactly where you check in and when and exactly what you do

foursquare has a chance at being the new loyalty card where loyal customers get freebies once in a while and a way to measure feedback since people can leave comments. otherwise companies care about general customer demographics and when there are big rushes. so that say starbucks can have the most people on staff when people come into the store. i've seen some starbucks with huge lines at 3pm

Re:Foursquare Demographics? (1)

wjousts (1529427) | more than 3 years ago | (#36229220)

But Starbucks could collect that data easily with some kind of electronic counter on the door. And it would be more accurate because it doesn't rely on the small fraction of people who use foursquare that may or may not reflect the greater population.

Re:Foursquare Demographics? (1)

alen (225700) | more than 3 years ago | (#36229914)

and people are always writing tips on foursquare so it's customer feedback as well. and advertising with specials keep bringing people in.

foursquare along with groupon are really tool for the mom and pop to advertise to a lot of people cheaply. that was the whole promise of the internet 15 years ago

Re:Foursquare Demographics? (1)

drafalski (232178) | more than 3 years ago | (#36230156)

foursquare along with groupon are really tool for the mom and pop to advertise to a lot of people cheaply. that was the whole promise of the internet 15 years ago

Really? Seems the internet made us different promises. Were mom and pop perhaps running a porn site?

Re:Foursquare Demographics? (3, Informative)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 3 years ago | (#36229248)

    Check any arbitrary location, and see how many people have checked in there recently. The numbers are generally pretty small.

    Companies already have a perfectly valid method to measure their business. They have their receipts. They know when they sold items, what they sold, how much to stock, and how many people they need working there.

    So there was a line at Starbucks, big deal. They already know how many people that they can have in lines without losing too much business. They look at their costs versus the number of people who may just walk out . If they lose 2 $5 ($10 lost) sales during the 3pm hour, but to handle the load properly they would have needed 3 more people on that shift at $10/hr ($240), it's not advantageous to them to put 3 more people on that shift.

    Business isn't about the customer experience. It's about making money. It's the same reason Disney doesn't mind having lines with an hour wait. They know you want their product, and are willing to stand in line waiting for it.

Re:Foursquare Demographics? (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 3 years ago | (#36230438)

Companies already have a perfectly valid method to measure their business. They have their receipts. They know when they sold items, what they sold, how much to stock, and how many people they need working there.

Try running a business using only those metrics - but make a reservation at your local bankruptcy court first, because you're going to need it. Those metrics don't tell you what brought customers into the store, or why those that left without buying didn't buy, etc... (Just for some very basic examples.)
 

So there was a line at Starbucks, big deal. They already know how many people that they can have in lines without losing too much business. They look at their costs versus the number of people who may just walk out . If they lose 2 $5 ($10 lost) sales during the 3pm hour, but to handle the load properly they would have needed 3 more people on that shift at $10/hr ($240), it's not advantageous to them to put 3 more people on that shift.

And then in your very next paragraph, you prove my point. The metrics needed to determine staffing levels go beyond the simple minded ones you posit above.
 

Business isn't about the customer experience. It's about making money. It's the same reason Disney doesn't mind having lines with an hour wait. They know you want their product, and are willing to stand in line waiting for it.

Then why does Disney provide the Fast Pass system so people *don't* have to stand in line for an hour? (Hint: Disney understands the value of customer experience, you do not.)

Re:Foursquare Demographics? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36235534)

I agree with your post, but that's not why Disney came up with FastPass - though that is why FastPass doesn't work as well as intended. FastPass was designed to get people out of lines and into stores, with a one-hour time window to encourage people not to get in line somewhere else. Their devotion to customer experience has prevented them from enforcing the back end of that window, so the procedure is to get your FastPass, get in line for rides without the system somewhere else, get a FastPass over here, go back to the other ride and enjoy it, get in line for rides without, etc. FP was supposed to recover its costs through increased sales in stores, but doesn't do so. I suppose experience is why they haven't ripped it out, however.

Re:Foursquare Demographics? (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 3 years ago | (#36236074)

Try running a business using only those metrics - but make a reservation at your local bankruptcy court first, because you're going to need it. Those metrics don't tell you what brought customers into the store, or why those that left without buying didn't buy, etc... (Just for some very basic examples.)

Have you actually looked at FourSquare, or do you just live in a delusional world?

    Have a look for Starbucks [foursquare.com] in New York.

    The one with the most check-ins is "72 Spring St at Crosby St New York, NY 10012". 7,813 check-ins. From From August 2 2010 to March 15, 2011, there were 38 comments.

    I'd be willing to bet that they serve well over 10,000 customers/month. In the roughly 5 months period (say 50,000 customers) 38 customers left feedback. That's a sample of 0.076% of the customers.

    But, lets have a look at the comments on there. I'll hand pick a few for you.

Bobby B. Check out Bobby Berk Home two doors South on Crosby.

Todd B. Great place to take a piss

Hannah S. unlock the starbucks 40th badge here

Alex F. Alex Frecon was here. And it was good.

Jo J. American runs on Star buck lol

Hafiz J. letih, minum2 jap...

Bruno J. Gossip Girl

Richado T. #turnred pls gv me sime badge here..how? tell me..

Gilang F. oiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii...!! drink in hereee

Erick P. blah blah blah dough

Gilang F. ternyata sama aja rasanya.!!orang kopinya juga eksport dr lampung.wakakakak

(translation: turns out it's just wrote.!! people also export coffee dr lampung.wakakakak)

Caitlin F. If you are a woman, regardless of age, beware of "hugh"..he will call you ma'am

Wow, the feedback is amazingly useful. We've learned that 31.6% of Starbucks customers leave absolutely worthless feedback. Extrapolate that out to the estimated customer base, and now you know that there are 15,800 customers you can't expect useful answers from.

Or more precisely... The sample set is too small for any useful purpose.

And then in your very next paragraph, you prove my point. The metrics needed to determine staffing levels go beyond the simple minded ones you posit above.

    No, I said a business must be run by a business person, who can identify their trends in their market. It may mean wearing plain clothes, sitting somewhere in the dining area and listening to conversations. It may mean asking random people how they liked their experience. Getting just 1 personal feedback per hour (assuming a 8 hour day) gives you over 1,600 data points to work with. Working with the useless data points (unless you want to take a piss, and blah blah blah) is more likely to ruin your company.

    But who am I to guess. With what I found online about you, you're obviously the business genius. Well, when you aren't vacuuming the soap suds out of your washer.

Then why does Disney provide the Fast Pass system so people *don't* have to stand in line for an hour? (Hint: Disney understands the value of customer experience, you do not.)

    Actually, Disney realizes they can herd people better. Before that, anyone who wanted to skip the lines would rent a wheelchair for one person in their party, and then everyone with them goes to the front of the line. Then you'd have backed up lines with people of questionable disabilities waiting to skip to the front of the line.

    The "Fastpass" system reserves a time for you to arrive. I don't frequent Disney, so I've only had one day to observe the system. You ask for a pass, it gives you an arbitrary time to show up. So they stage out the people who reserve, and everyone else is still in the long lines. You're limited to the number of reservations you can make, so you can't say plan your day out in a logical order. Instead, you spend most of your day running back and forth across the park to go on rides at your allotted time. And too bad if you don't make it to one in time, that tickets void. Either reserve another spot for later in the day, or stand in the line. After a while, you realize that it would have been easier to just stand in line, or cherry pick the rides as you notice short lines, than to keep running around in circles.

      Disney already knows that they can only fit so many people per hour on the rides. They know that will be saturated with the normal line. You're only participating in a crowd control experiment, which apparently is failing. That is until everyone starts using it. It's very reminiscent of the the old colored and lettered tickets. [yesterland.com] . It cost a family of four a fortune (at the prices back then) to spend a day at Disney. But Disney has done far better than inflation. $87.33 is today's price for anyone 10 and older. In 1972, the 15-ticket book was $5.95. With inflation that becomes $30.66. But they have more things to spend money on too, which increases their profits even more. It's a truly "Magic Kingdom", where their economy is whatever they think they can squeeze the tourists for, and sure as hell, they keep going there. They built an entire economy in the Disney area. In the 1950's, there were about 20,000 residents in the area, and it was mostly orange farms. Now the Orlando Metropolitan Area has a population of over 2 million people. They watch their market carefully, knowing customer behavior, price points for merchandise and services, and offering a broad spectrum of anything and everything you could possibly want. Need a place to stay? They have it, from a motel style inn, to the Cinderella's Castle Suite. Yup, something for everyone, which translates roughly to "We'll take every penny we can squeeze from you, and use your children to extort it from you".

    And.. I'd be confident that Disney isn't using FourSquare for their demographic nor statistical information. Did you have a look at FourSquare? 237 tips and 39018 check-ins, starting April 20, 2010. 18 feedbacks per month. In 2008, 17 million people went to "The Magic Kingdom" alone. I found sources saying park attendance dropped 4%, so we'll go with 16,320,000 visitors. So roughly 1,360,000 visitors per month. So 0.00132% feedback. Is this really something you want to do demographics with? You could use the fact that there were almost 4 times as many OSHA reports of work related injuries. I was really searching for the number of arrests, but couldn't find any statistics on it, since most are handled internally, and those involved are removed from the park. Disney doesn't like bad press, and despite robberies and violence including murder, there is very little statistical information available.

Re:Foursquare Demographics? (1)

wjousts (1529427) | more than 3 years ago | (#36229358)

Some of us cheat it anyways.

People will game any system if there is a way to do it. The question is what percentage of the data is junk? If it's a couple of percent, it's probably not a problem. If it's 50%, then it's probably useless.

Re:Foursquare Demographics? (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 3 years ago | (#36229780)

    It would depend on how you view junk.

    In the right city? I'd say 25% is junk.

    In the actual location? I'd say >50% is junk.

    The people who I've know that use foursquare are frequently bored where they are, so they go looking around for other places to check in. So they pick an arbitrary location nearby that appears to be more interesting than where they really are.

    I just go one up on the junk rating, and check in, in the wrong state or country. As I've told people, it's all disinformation, and usually located near cities that would drive the tinfoil hat crowd nuts. What's the worst that'll happen? They'll think I'm sort of covert government agent. The best is, they'll go looking for me at the wrong place.

    I know I've cost people money looking for me. They shouldn't have tried. When I don't want to be found, I won't be found. When I want to, I'll show up at your door. It's not hard to not be found. Give a trusted friend one of your credit cards, and tell them to buy gas with it at least once a week locally. Ask them to pay you the estimated cost in cash. Give them your cell phone, and tell them to use on a regular basis. Have them email your messages to you, to a dummy email account. Borrow a car from a friend. Pay for all your needs with cash (fuel and food). Buy a pre-paid cell phone with cash in another area. Sleep in the car during the drive, so you won't show up as staying in a hotel. When you get to your safer destination, thank your friend for their assistance. It's pretty hard to identify me by picture. White male, age 25 to 35 years old, average height, average build, wearing nondescript clothes, driving an unknown vehicle, in an unknown area.

    It's not just foursquare that I use. My Google Latitude location is at Ft. Meade at the NSA headquarters. Before that, I left myself in Manhattan. Why? I like New York. :) I miss not going up there as much as I used to. Foursquare has me logged in around Area 51, NSA headquarters, CIA headquarters, NGA headquarters, and even Wild Goose Chase, Australia [google.com] . That last one was too funny, I couldn't resist. I thought about putting myself in Ketchican, AK, but I thought there wouldn't be enough people who got the joke (Catch, I Can).

    Social networking sites have me registered in all kinds of arbitrary places. According to Facebook, I live at their office, but my current location is close (approx 5 miles) to a relatively obscure federal government emergency operations center.

    How worthwhile is any of that data? Not very. And why do I do it? Well, other than the random PI with a grudge (or a pissy client), It's to avoid all the crazy people out there. There's just too many people in the general population that really should be tucked away safely in a mental facility. Hell, I don't want most of the people on here knowing where I am.

Re:Foursquare Demographics? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36230426)

Seriously? From the sound of it, you fall squarely into the "tinfoil hat crowd" yourself. That, or you watch too many bad spy movies.

Re:Foursquare Demographics? (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 3 years ago | (#36235560)

    Well, not really. I worked in the industry that trades that information, and provides it to private investigators, law enforcement, and collections companies. Others provide it to anyone willing to pay. I know what some use for data sources. I still know people involved with those companies. They talk about their data sources, what they can provide to anyone who wants it.

    Have you ever searched for yourself on intelius.com? How about looked at the current value of your house on zillow.com? Maybe searched for someone on zabasearch.com? Where do you think they get their information? Yes, they buy it.

    I've also worked with people who have worked in other business segments of the same industry. For example, one company handles information used by marketing companies. They sell customized lists. You could get every independent car dealership within 100 miles of a particular city. Another company only trades in email lists. The more details with those email addresses the better. Want the email address for everyone in Middletown, Kansas? They'll be happy to provide it? Add to the list from Foursquare would then give you every person residing in the town, *and* those who "check in" there.

    Those companies buy access to the credit reports. Not just hand picked ones, but all of them. They're expensive to buy, but they are out there. Does it show on your credit report? Then it's accessible. Search for "Experian File One" or "TransUnion TUCS file". You're looking at a 7-figure price, plus a whole stack of qualifications, but for the right price, they're more than happy to sell information on every person in the country.

    They also buy lists or access to the lists of anything they can. Some it was perfectly legal, and some not so legal. For example, and unhappy and underpaid employee of a cell company may just happen to copy off the list of subscribers, and sell it for tens of thousands of dollars. Some random hacker gets a dump of the Sony database. They may not be in it for the credit card numbers. They may have wanted a verified list of names, addresses, phone numbers, and credit card numbers. The card numbers will stop working pretty quickly if they attempt to use them. The rest of the information is worth a fortune. How big was that data breech again? Oh ya, only 100 million users [bloomberg.com] . That'll have a nice price tag on it when it goes to market. Of course, it will be filtered to remove seeds, and handed through so many people, it'd be easier to find the Holy Grail than the source.

    If there is information available online, no matter how tedious it is to click through the forms, they have programs diligently pulling down ever bit they can. You can't guess every name on Facebook, but you can crawl through it pretty quickly. How hard would be be to write a script to request (through various anonymous proxies, with changing USER_AGENT strings):

https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1 [facebook.com]
through
https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=2100000000 [facebook.com]

    It'd take a while to run through 2,100,000,000 pages (that's the upper limit I found by changing the id number by hand, without redirecting automatically back to the front page). That's if you have one computer doing them one at a time. How about 100 servers with 100 crawler processes each? 210,000 seconds, or 2.43 days. It may seem like a lot of horsepower to do it, but it's very profitable if even a small percentage have their profiles open for anyone to see.

    But what about Foursquare, since that was the topic?

https://foursquare.com/user/1 [foursquare.com]
through
https://foursquare.com/user/9079979 [foursquare.com]

    That's a more manageable target. Only 9,079,979. All of their information could be pulled down in 907 seconds, or about 15 minutes.

    Of course, you'd want to throttle those rates back to something manageable. So instead of pulling Facebook down in 2.43 days, maybe you'll pace it to a month, and you can continue having

    They also get information from online contests/sweepstakes/etc. Ever filled out a form in a store for a free product? How about online? Do you have a grocery store card? BestBuy discount card? Pretty much any card that you have to do little to nothing to get. They hand them out to everyone willing to fill out even some of their information, because that makes a list that can be sold.

    How about Netflix? Yup, they sell their lists, updated frequently. That's why their accounts are fairly cheap. We've looked at their profit margin here before, and frequent viewers actually make them operate at a loss. Well, it's not a loss if they can sell their lists of customers for a profit. How about Redbox? $1 movies? No way. How can they make money. Oh ya. Credit card verifiable zip code. Email address provided for discounts. And of course, lets not forget, they know what movies you like.

    Not everything is quite so wholesome. They spider arrest records and court records. Were you charged with something 10 years ago, but found not guilty? It may show up. Did someone give *your* name when being arrested, even though it was corrected later? According to the datamining companies, you still have a criminal record. They use the idea that "public records" are fair game, and anything that's made available to the public falls under this. So your county or state had the records available online to everyone, but took them down after a lawsuit? Not a big deal to the datamining companies. They retain what they've collected forever.

    One company researched me to show me how good their product is. They showed me having an email address, which belonged to my mother over a decade ago. They showed her home address, and P.O. box as being mine. Why? Because at some point someone incorrectly associated me with that information. It never falls off. I have over a dozen aliases, which are different ways companies have screwed up my name. One of them was distinctive, and I spotted it right away, because I tried for months to get them to fix it. It was the power company. Yup, if you have power service at your house, your information has likely been sold. Oddly enough, it never hit my credit report as being incorrect, so it was the power company, or someone they sold their customer list to, who eventually provided it to the datamining company.

    Datamining is a tedious process, and the lists are very expensive. Not all the companies do it directly. Instead, they buy access rights to the information. They query their datasources, and in return can provide the wonderful report that whoever requested. Your information, on demand, anywhere from $0.01/ea to $5/ea, and some reports are much more expensive. I believe an online criminal check for the state of New York costs something in the neighborhood of $80.

    As far as I know, there isn't a company out there that doesn't happily sell their customer data. It's buried in the terms of services, usually with a very short and vague blurb about affiliated companies. Sure, anyone with the money is now an affiliate.

    So how do you feel about posting your location somewhere as innocent as FourSquare now? Do a check-in, and you'll find yourself being marketed to for being a customer, or targeted for being in that area. And hope you don't have a name similar to someone who is a criminal, or you may find yourself on the receiving end of lawsuits and criminal charges. Someone out there has my name, my day and month of birth, but was born 20 years before me. He still has outstanding warrants. A traffic stop can have law enforcement asking plenty of extra questions. It seems to have died down, so either he died (available through the SSA Death Index), or he was finally taken into custody. It's all fun and games, until you're denied something based on "your" criminal history. I was denied renting a house once, because "I" was a convicted felon. Only, it wasn't me. That only came up a few times, so someone had some bad logic to their searches.

Re:Foursquare Demographics? (1)

wjousts (1529427) | more than 3 years ago | (#36231144)

As I've told people, it's all disinformation, and usually located near cities that would drive the tinfoil hat crowd nuts.

Really? You think anybody actually cares where you are? You need to get over yourself.

Re:Foursquare Demographics? (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 3 years ago | (#36235600)

    I just replied to the AC that posted before you. Go up and read that. Maybe you'll understand. I would have said people were crazy for believing it. Once I worked with different aspects of the industry for a while, I realized how much is collected and sold. I really rather seed my true identity with so much disinformation that anyone trying to use it can't figure me out. Well, unless I live in Los Angeles, New York, Miami, ReykjavÃk, Berlin, and Moscow all at the same time. One of these days I'll have to throw together a randomize to pick major cities and suburbs to use online. Until then, I just pick one from the cities I know. :)

Re:Foursquare Demographics? (1)

Metrofax (2195214) | more than 3 years ago | (#36229598)

"Some of us cheat it anyways. There's a workaround for checking in places that you aren't physically at. So I check in at arbitrary places, preferably at or very close to government facilities that makes the tinfoil hat crowd go nuts. So, following my "trail" shows me being anywhere but where I actually am." That's great, I love it!

My take on these types of services (1)

mfh (56) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228830)

This kind of thing is vulnerable to liars. You think anyone is going to check in at McDonald's? Or XXX-movie mart? What about the movies when the person is supposed to be at work?

The whole thing is a sham that will promote businesses where people would want others to think they are, instead of businesses where people REALLY are.

CHECKING IN AT THE WHOREHOUSE!

Re:My take on these types of services (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36228942)

Why not? My twitter feed has me currently set to "whacking off to angry asian lesbian porn". If we do not get the word out they might not make more.

Re:My take on these types of services (3, Insightful)

mfh (56) | more than 3 years ago | (#36229046)

Your anonymity here proves my previous assertions and derails your own.

I want more FourSquare data (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228836)

As a user I could see some real interesting uses for the data.
It would be nice if you could see which clubs and restaurants are getting the most check ins. You would know the hot spots. Even better would be knowing when they are getting the check ins. Maybe you could see when that restaurant you want to try has the least check ins so you get the wait the least amount of time.
Age data would be cool as well. If a place is loaded with people that are younger or older then you are you may want to avoid that as well.
That is where foursquare I think is falling down a bit. Discovery tools.

Re:I want more FourSquare data (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#36229254)

It would be nice if you could see which clubs and restaurants are getting the most check ins. You would know the hot spots. .... That is where foursquare I think is falling down a bit. Discovery tools.

You meant to write, foursquare is missing out on selling business owners on fake checkins to boost their popularity.

So you find the "hottest new club" in the city on foursquare, go there, and theres no one there all night but two homeless alkies.

Re:I want more FourSquare data (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 3 years ago | (#36229428)

That would be really easy to check and it would get around really fast. Yea it could be done and it already happens a lot on review sites.

Re:I want more FourSquare data (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36229272)

You could possibly do all of that with their API, maybe it's just not in their business plan.

Spend, spend, spend (1)

commodore6502 (1981532) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228852)

10 percent discount to anyone who checked in on a phone at Radio Shack..... Applebee's launched a "swarm offer" in an effort to bring in the late-night crowd. Everyone who checks in gets free mozzarella sticks, as long as at least five people in the restaurant check in after 9 p.m..... New York Times' more than 90,000 followers might be advised to try the cereal-milk soft-serve ice cream at New York's Momofuku Milk Bar.....

No wonder the typical American has ~$120,000 in total debt (plus 140,000 of public gov't debt). I don't think we can build a positive future following this materialistic lifestyle. IMHO.

Re:Spend, spend, spend (1)

wjousts (1529427) | more than 3 years ago | (#36229380)

There is an uncomfortable line between getting people to spend money that they were going to spend anyway on your product rather than somebody else's and getting people to spend money they don't have. Unfortunately, I don't think most businesses care about that distinction. In fact, it seems like most consumers don't care either.

CRM - so what? (1)

callmehank (2128210) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228862)

Really, the future trend in marketing will be VRM [wikipedia.org] , not CRM.

And it's dying.... (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228916)

Over the past 3 months I have seen a dramatic drop off of Foursquare use. I have about 60 friends that all use it and it has went from a furious competition to only about 4 that actually still use it. In fact I have not checked into anyplace for over a week. It's too much of a bother. Plus any rewards for using it are near invisible. Most of the time you check in AFTER you have ordered so you see the special you now cant use.

They need a major revamping like cache all my places so I dont have to wait for 2 minutes for it to find my location and then pull the location list.

Re:And it's dying.... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36229012)

"I have about 60 friends that all use it and it has went from a furious competition to only about 4 that actually still use it."

And despite the changes in FourSquare, your grammar is still that of a semi-literate uneducated idiot.

Re:And it's dying.... (0)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 3 years ago | (#36229110)

Anonymous Coward wrote:

And despite the changes in FourSquare, your grammar is still that of a semi-literate uneducated idiot.

Why is User AC so frequently rude??? The guy made a simple mistake (went should be gone). That's all. You bitching about that error is as silly as bitching about tihs typo.

Re:And it's dying.... (1)

wjousts (1529427) | more than 3 years ago | (#36229284)

Most of the time you check in AFTER you have ordered so you see the special you now cant use.

Is that kinda your fault? Not disagreeing with you, I've never used Foursquare myself and it might well be true that the novelty has worn off.

It's not dying... (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 3 years ago | (#36229410)

It is not dying, it just reached IPO time.

There remains questions... (3, Interesting)

Kamiza Ikioi (893310) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228948)

I think the biggest question is economic class. Sure, this works for Starbucks because Starbucks is a higher end retailer who's users are tech savvy. But this does nothing for Family Dollar who's users are all over the gambit. This means, then, that you can only poll a certain section of the populous, whereas, using instore data makes more since for most businesses which captures 100% of data, rather than a subset (bothers to check in) or a subset (uses Foursquare) or a subset (owns a smartphone).

The other problem is time is automatically skewed. People running to the store late night to pick up toilet paper are unlikely to check in, especially on a weekday. But those trying out a new steakhouse on a Saturday afternoon are more likely to check in. So the time data is naturally skewed to recreational times.

While I applaud this as a way to see when advertising deals on social networks may best impact your business, this by no means will help you determine if you need to make sure your toilet paper is fully stocked at 3am.

Re:There remains questions... (1)

Warlord88 (1065794) | more than 3 years ago | (#36229020)

Why do you assume they have not taken these problems/limitations into account?

Re:There remains questions... (0)

Kamiza Ikioi (893310) | more than 3 years ago | (#36230922)

For the same reason I don't assume there is a God. I'd rather see evidence of the existence of statistical methodology in place, vetted by other statisticians, before assuming that it exists and works.

Re:There remains questions... (1)

Warlord88 (1065794) | more than 3 years ago | (#36233814)

If I were writing algorithms and implementing statistical methodologies that you mention, I wouldn't let anyone know about it..

Re:There remains questions... (1)

swanzilla (1458281) | more than 3 years ago | (#36229294)

Cross reference Facebook

People running to the store late night to pick up toilet paper are unlikely to check in, especially on a weekday.

That is exactly the inane garbage that people seem to post ad nauseum. Problem solved

Re:There remains questions... (1)

Kamiza Ikioi (893310) | more than 3 years ago | (#36230892)

The TP section needs a "Like" button. ;)

Re:There remains questions... (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 3 years ago | (#36230518)

The other problem is time is automatically skewed. People running to the [Family Dollar] store late night to pick up toilet paper are unlikely to check in, especially on a weekday. But those trying out a new steakhouse on a Saturday afternoon are more likely to check in. So the time data is naturally skewed to recreational times.

Well, duh. Who do you think is more interested in the data? Family Dollar whose business model is based on moving product in bulk with rapid turnover? Or New Steakhouse who is interested in drawing a higher income crowd during dining hours?
 

While I applaud this as a way to see when advertising deals on social networks may best impact your business, this by no means will help you determine if you need to make sure your toilet paper is fully stocked at 3am.

Which is pretty much unsurprising, because it isn't *meant* to help you determine if you need to make sure your toilet paper is fully stocked at 3am.
 
Seriously, your objections are like objecting to a fork because it won't hold your soup. Different businesses use different tools for different goals.

Re:There remains questions... (1)

Kamiza Ikioi (893310) | more than 3 years ago | (#36230808)

On the other hand, my basic objection stands. How is this better than using in-store data? Even at best, it can't correlate foot traffic with actual purposes because foursquare doesn't collect purchase data except when a deal is used. And check-ins being so narrowly defined can't even estimate foot traffic.

If 20 people check in to Foot Locker, what does that mean for actual foot traffic? How is that correlated with an ad campaign.

Considering that as part of my job for a company that sells ad campaigns (of which I'm the network administrator, so I'm in on the IT discussions to do with digital sales) in this field and the use of QR Codes for real sales/traffic/ad statistics, I fail to see how Foursquare statistics are useful for anything except for promoting Foursquare usage by customers or for specifically targeting the Foursquare using demographic. That's not very useful, impo.

If I put a QR code on a coupon which is mailed out and scanned by McDonalds, I'll blow Foursquare out of the water with data. 1) I can hit every demographic with a mailing address. 2) I can measure the success of the ad campaign because, unlike Foursquare, I can embed the QR code on anything, even allowing cashiers to scan one for customers who did not receive the mailing. and 3) I can tie in online sales as well. That's useful and companies will pay my company significantly to do this for them.

On the other hand, at this moment, I don't believe we could sell a "Foursquare" campaign to anybody but say... a rock concert. And even then, the push would be for the use of codes on tickets. Foursquare wouldn't even really be an enhancement.

home check-ins (1)

afex (693734) | more than 3 years ago | (#36228992)

can we all agree that we hate anyone that checks in at their house and/or workplace?

i have two criteria for checkins - either restaurants/bars/clubs or unique stuff (landmarks and stuff) - anything else and i just don't see the use.

Re:home check-ins (1)

wjousts (1529427) | more than 3 years ago | (#36229298)

Ah, but if you don't check in at home, how do the burglars know that it's time to make a quick exit out the back window?

Re:home check-ins (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 3 years ago | (#36229386)

No. I don't hate them. I care approximately as much about those "check ins" as I do about all the rest of the "check ins".

Re:home check-ins (1)

afex (693734) | more than 3 years ago | (#36229422)

i've never understood this attitude....why do you have 4square if you don't care?!

(and if you're seeing the crossposts on facebook, why have you not hidden all checkins yet? its 2-clicks away, not even in a menu...)

Re:home check-ins (1)

Chibi Merrow (226057) | more than 3 years ago | (#36229802)

What is Facebook?

Foursquare is worthless spam I could do without. Unfortunately the only option on Buzz is to completely block all Twitter posts from a user, which would essentially mean unfollowing three of my friends. It's an option I'm seriously considering, however.

Re:home check-ins (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36229868)

haha, foursquare is spam and twitter is not? yeesh...

may as well go to a baseball game and complain about all the foul balls - after all, you only want to see base hits!

Re:home check-ins (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 3 years ago | (#36229974)

I don't have Foursquare.

Boring... (1)

matthew_t_west (800388) | more than 3 years ago | (#36229098)

Not too much different than credit card data... except you don't always spend money when you check in somewhere with Foursquare. So it's like the spam of data harvesting... I bet the hit rate for usable information is really really weak.

M

huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36229172)

What's foursquare?

Re:huh? (1)

Danieljury3 (1809634) | more than 3 years ago | (#36231808)

This [wikipedia.org]

Say goodbye to privacy (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36229184)

Wanna know something crazy? That nice fancy TIVO you have? It can tell if you watch the ads. Then the ads can be correlated with your four-square check ins to measure the ads effectiveness. You're giving the creepy level of insight into your psychology, and I for one don't like it. -www.awkwardengineer.com [awkwardengineer.com]

Silly (1)

DogDude (805747) | more than 3 years ago | (#36229336)

Foursquare is a silly game. The number of people who use it are so trivial, that it really doesn't provide any useful data. On top of that, only the most techie geek people use it. Most people do not walk around with pants computers out when they're walking into restaurants/retail establishments.

Re:Silly (1)

afex (693734) | more than 3 years ago | (#36229736)

i've actually been shocked by how many users there are. even where i live (MKE, WI) i went out a few nights ago and there were 15 people checked in at a restaurant that holds maybe 50 people max. i'll agree with you that its still not even close to a fraction of a percent of the general populous, but its not like i'm in the bay area or NY - this is the frickin midwest for gods sake!

Re:Silly (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 3 years ago | (#36229870)

I consider myself one of the "techie" people and I don't use it. And none of my colleagues use it (nor have used it). Foursquare was a "fad" by all measures, and not a very successful one at that. My friends already know where I am, and so do the stores / establishments I frequent via receipts. The information is mostly redundant self-centered ego boost.

Re:Silly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36232860)

I agree that the "game" part of foursquare is silly, however I've found foursquare quite useful when traveling. It's really nice when you are in a new city to open up foursquare and see what restaurants/bars/clubs near you are trending. This is a much easier way to find something to do then digging through google maps or some review site online. And some of the tips left can be gems, especially when you're looking for specials. Besides all that, I use it to keep track of where I have been. I don't bother following anyone else or having anyone else follow me, but when I return to a city, instead of trying to remember the name of that great restaurant I went to, I have a list of places I've checked in before and can find it quickly.

Technology Review (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36229886)

printed paid content - and /. falls for it.

FourSquare inaccuracy... (1)

n5yat (987446) | more than 3 years ago | (#36230936)

Given how inaccurate I've found FourSquare to be (I can be standing 6 feet from a store, and it can't find it... and when I search by name, I find oodles of variations of the name because people can't spell. Maybe it's Tonys, maybe it's Tony's, maybe it's Tony's Pizza, maybe it's Tony's Pizzeria, maybe it's Tonys Pizza Place, etc...) I don't see how the data collected could ever be very useful...

on not quitting foursquare (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36232814)

I've come close to quitting several times, it just feels kind of pointless usually - but then last night I checked in someplace and a friend I hadn't seen in nearly a year also checked in. Realizing we were both there we hung out and had an awesome night, our girlfriends had never met and they both seemed to really hit it off, and we invited each other to some upcoming events we mutually share interests in but one or the other of us hadn't known of. Considering how crowded the place was I doubt we would of run into each other had it not been for foursquare. It was a cool experience and has made me reconsider the utility of foursquare.

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