The last location-based service we are reviewing this week is Foursquare, "4sq" for short.
According to the buzz on the street, during the last 7 days both Foursquare and Gowalla have to worry about Facebook Places. We explained our position on the substandard Facebook Places yesterday, and Gowalla has a really cool interface that we explained 2 days ago.
Foursquare is not snazzy looking, but it's fast, has real time updates, interaction between users and 3 different types of social competitive scenarios.
They really have their act together.
Here are some of the features that wow'd us:
* Check in at the same location enough times to become the "Mayor" of that location. Compete against your friends.
* Check in at different locations, different times of the day, and at specific events to be awarded "Badges." Example: Earn the "Swarm" badge if you check in at a store while 50 other people are also checked in. Retailers around the country have already hosted "Swarm Events" at their stores.
* The Places screen updates in real time as you walk around or drive around.
* You can view the Twitter posts from all users that were near a location when they tweeted. This is an amazing feature that successfully taps into the geo-location feature of Twitter.
* They've learned, and given a simple way to flag an incorrect address of a Place; flag it as closed or flag it as a duplicate listing.
You could set up a plethora of socially competitive contests using the Badges, and also reward frequent visitors to your store who have earned the "Mayor" title. But what's really interesting, and already proven to be hugely successful for many, is the ability to tie Foursquare into a secondary system called WeReward.
WeReward is an advertising medium that you pay to set up challenges. Anyone can drive by your store and "check in" but with the WeReward system you can verify each person who checks in.
The most basic concept is to have a person come into your store and take a photo of themselves with an employee, or trying on jewelry. They then upload that photo to WeReward where you will verify it at your convenience. Once verified, the person is rewarded with real money, sometimes a penny, sometimes 100 pennies. This is where your advertising money goes to; you are literally bribing people with pennies to come into your store, and in time you will know exactly how much it costs to get new foot traffic into your store.
After reviewing all these systems for 7 days straight, we like the features of Foursquare the best. It's the most mature to date. But that could easily change tomorrow.