Don’t Anger the Check In Gods of Foursquare

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in Social Media

by Sage

Don’t Anger the Check In Gods of Foursquare

I enjoy golf.  I am not a huge golfer, but on occasion I enjoy heading out to the 9 hole pitch and putt with a few friends & 6 pack.  I rarely go to the 18 hole course and play as there is one thing that I am not a fan of: The Golf Etiquette.  I learned how to play golf from my old man who, like me, doesn’t like to stick to convention wisdom or rules.  The first time I played 18 holes I was really offended when a guy in a cart drove up and told me that I need to pick up the pace and play faster.  What? I was there to have a good time, and if I want to enjoy the game and take my time I should be able to.

My past experiences learning how to play golf from my Dad skewed my personal perspective on how the game is actually played.  For me it was a chance to have some fun, drink a few beers, and relax.  I have since learned it is a very serious game.

Lately I have stumbled upon another piece of etiquette that I am not sure if I am a fan of: Foursquare.  Last week I made the leap to the world of mobile phones and bought my first mobile device ever: an iPhone 4.  Over the weekend I was overwhelmed with the amazing possibilities that this device opened doors to.  I was connected and it was awesome.  One of the first apps I installed was Foursquare.

I speak with clients all the time about ways to attract new business to their website (and yes even to their brick and mortar location), and one of the conversations I have often is how they can use Foursquare for their business.  We talk about rewarding people who check in often and become the Mayor, or people who check in for the first time and how we can use these tools to improve business.  Now because of these experiences, and the fact that I had never actually used Foursquare personally, I had always thought of things from a business perspective.

Now that I have an iPhone the rules of Foursquare have changed to me.

One of the major things I have learned about working so often with people of varying amounts of web savvy is that everyone uses the tools of the web differently. Previously Foursquare was a business tool for me. I realized that for “Personal Chris” (who is the opposite of “Work Chris“), Foursquare is better used as a social tool.  One of the first times I checked in somewhere  I was notified that a friend was at that same location.  At that moment it became less about quantity of check ins and Mayorships, and more about connecting with real people.  Although it is cool to see the deals when I check in at various locations,  I am now more interested in connecting with friends, and letting people know where I am.


In the spirit of connecting with people and letting people know where I am, I have been diligently checking into the office every day.  Not because I want to be the Mayor, but because I wanted to share my location with people.  After 2 days of checking in at Sage, I found that I have become the Mayor of the office, and ousted the previous Mayor. Minutes later I received a Tweet from the previous Mayor:

@chriswhiteley Hey, emps are exempt as in you can’t be mayor of where you work…

I thought about this and it made sense.  How could a regular patron possibly maintain a Mayorship when competing with an employee.  This definitely counteracts any deals that a business may offer to the Mayor.  At the same time however it works against the employee that wants to let their friends know where they are.  There had to be a middle ground somewhere as I wasn’t going to stop checking in at the office, but at the same time the etiquette of an employee being the Mayor was being breached.


The Employee/Patron Foursquare Balance can be restored.

It is actually possible to resign your Mayorship and to allow others to step up and fill your role.  This is great for people that check in for the purpose of letting people know where they are without having to compete with patrons for Mayorship which pretty much nullifies any deals that a business may have in place for the Mayor.

Stepping down from Office:

  1. Login to your Foursquare account
  2. Click on the ‘Me’ tab
  3. Hover your mouse over any Mayorships you may have
  4. Click on the little X that appears
  5. Click OK on the dialogue box that appears to resign your Mayorship

The only challenge that I foresee is that you may have to do this on a daily basis as the dialog box states: “You’ll have to check-in here again to win your mayorship back.” Perhaps in the future Foursquare will have a “Do you work here?” option that employees can tick so they do not have to resign the Mayorship on a daily basis.

As for my Mayorship of Sage Internet.  I’m keeping it for now, as we don’t have any Mayorship deals, and I do not want the hassle of resigning my Mayorship on a daily basis every time I check in. Hopefully Foursquare will have a feature to address this soon (if there is one, please do share).