April 2, 2020

Foursquare Foreshadows Behavior Changes

Many of the New Yorkers reading this will understand the atmosphere in Union Square on a Saturday afternoon. The square hosts its Green Market 4 days per week. Walking through it to catch a train can sometimes be always is hectic. Over 140 vendors line the area on the weekend. Everyone from pumpkin vendors to hard ciders has a booth. I was checking in on Foursquare as if I could possibly be “mayor” of the Union Square Green Market (Rob M. is about 40 check-ins ahead of me). New Yorkers know how fiercely competitive each venue in the City is. Mayor of Union Square for me would certainly have more street cred than me being the mayor of the Chinese laundry down the block. As I checked-in I noticed something; a Foursquare special. But this wasn’t just any special the special was for precisely $2 off at Rick’s Picks. For those of you unaware, Rick’s Picks is the holy grail of locally-grown artisan pickles.

This “Foursquare special” suddenly caused a change in my behavior it changed from commuter to consumer. I ignored wherever it was that I was headed via the subway and marched over to Rick’s Picks for $2 off a $7 jar of The People’s Pickle. After showing the girl at the pickle tent my iPhone, I felt victorious in capitalizing on a special available only to us 3.5 million or so Foursquare users. After walking away, I realized I just made an impulse geo-location checkout lane purchase. At first this (not the pickles) made my stomach a bit queasy. What if businesses could adapt this on a massive scale? Foursquare is obviously betting on this. But how does this apply to service businesses such as real estate?

I regularly see tips on Foursquare from Matthew over at Corcoran. They’re putting a massive effort into increasing the brand exposure via Foursquare. While many shrug Foursquare off as a waste of time and effort, this brand is quietly canvasing New York, leaving tips (and collecting badges). I primarily use Foursquare as a game and to know where my friends are, but Foursquare is weaving its way into our lives and changing our behavior in the process. I’m curious to see how Foursquare fits into real estate directly and if consumers will adapt. What if a brokerage could partner with Foursquare to create a badge for people checking-in to a certain number of open houses or viewing a minimum number of apartments? It could change the way people interact with real estate brands. Those of you who have a barista badge know exactly what I’m talking about.


  1. As a residential real estate broker, I add venues at my listing such as 41SaddleHill.com. Then whenever I’m at the property for an open house or home inspection or getting an offer signed, I check-in with a shout out to “promote” the single property website and let my facebook friends know that I actually do work for a living occasionally. I just wish foursquare would allow me to make that venue title a clickable link! I would be willing to pay money to make that happen.

  2. Keen observations as always Ryan. I am a big Foursquare fanboy myself. I am all about adding the tips and getting advice from my friends. Not so much for the badges. I think that as long as they can walk that fine line between their community and their commercial endeavors this is the first of many services out there. I still think Yelp could squash them in a heartbeat if they could get their act together. That’s just my 2¢.

  3. Ryan Hinricher says

    The reality of Yelp being a Foursquare killer is unlikely. I’m sure the VC’s that funded Foursquare recently thought this through. Yelp seems pretty weak here. There map search leaves something to be desired. I appreciate the feedback, Patrick.

    • I dunno. Yelp had a helluva lot more users and their platform is more stable. I think if they wanted to be in that game wholeheartedly they would. As it is they have a check in aspect and the people I know who use it like it ALOT more than Foursquare….

      • Ryan Hinricher says

        Good thing there’s room for more than one company in the space. I’m curious to see how Zagat’s partnership with Foursquare matures. Yelp seems Ok at reviews, and Ok at checkins.

        • I’m curious to see if Foursquare’s partnership with the other commercial entities loses them users. Yelp is self contained and for some reason doesn’t seem to have to compromise as much as Frousquare.

  4. What opened up my eyes with 4sq-early on,I checked in somewhere,and recieved a tip from a local agent,suggesting similar local places based on the fact that I’d checked in at place x-and after a few check ins in the area,I did get one suggesting checking out his brokerage if I was in the market for a home. (The first thing I did after this was to contact the biz development team at Foursquare to ask about how I could do that and how much it would cost)

    Since then,I have a great appreciation for how Corcoran is using FourSquare (I often really appreciate some of the keen tips !)

    Recently I got a foursquare request (as did my taller half),from a local agent.His user name it turns out was his website name.His twitter stream was protected.I checked out their profile,and tips they had left.All but four were copy/pasted grammatically incorrect directions to go to his website.That ,imho is an epic fail.

    Adding value is essential,blabbering on or blatant self promotion not so much.I enjoy foursquare,and I especially enjoy getting a great tip on a venue I may not have been to before.
    I have added venues,and checked in for showings/open houses or things around my listings.Much the same way I will craft an ode to an area where a listing is located.