Nevertheless, I followed the trend from a business perspective. I saw some value in Yelp's rendition given the number of people already using their app and their review based premise. As conference season took off I began to re-examine FourSquare. Intel was one of the first brands to partner with the company for an onsite activation and used the service to promote their presence at CES. At SXSW Foursquare was all the rage and helped people keep track of each other in the nerd herd chaos. Couple that with brand's like Starbucks usage of the tool and the constant barrage of geo-targeted social networking headlines, and it was clear that the trend isn't going anywhere. In fact, geo-targeted social networks are obviously the next big thing - and are closing the gap between social and consumer action/purchase in a very real way.
So, I got hip to the game. And approached FourSquare with the same Mack Collier-esque strategy that got me turned onto Twitter almost two years ago to the day.
1) Create Your Own Experience. Make sure you are following the RIGHT people - people you care about. For Twitter this was a large social media crew, for FourSquare it's a more intimate group of people I actually know city to city. Knowing what my friends are up to is actually interesting, and with status updates, amusing.
2) Try Hard. You get back what you put in - so just passively signing up isn't enough. I started checking in multiple times a day and low and behold I started to see some value. Last week I saw that @DougMeacham and I were both in New York. Doug and I hadn't seen each other since SXSW 2009 and we were able to hook up for drinks and dinner thanks to me actually using FourSquare.
3) Learn from Others. Ask how others are using the platform, you might be surprised what you find! I'm searching for "deals" in DC that you can get through FourSquare and am continuing to track how brands are using a platform that I'm invested in.
All this goes to show - you have to use social media to "get it." You can't sit on the sidelines passively reading about social media, or attend a 2 hour training and count on it unlocking the secrets (or the badge - haha.) You have to be proactive, even when you think it's not immediately applicable to you. Lesson learned.