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What is Foursquare?

Foursquare is a free internet Web 2.0 Application which users download to their phone. Users then "check-in" to the places they visit. The more frequently they "check-in" to these places, the more points and badges they earn. Foursquare tells your friends where you are and informs you of the places they visit as well. If you are looking for a new place to visit, say you are hungry for some Chinese food, foursquare can recommend locations based on where your friends have frequented most often. You have the opportunity to find out about discounts or specials at certain restaurants or customer's favorites on the menu. If you are the most frequent visitor at a place, then you become the "mayor". Some businesses offer freebies to the "mayor" of their business. Foursquare is a great way to keep in touch with your friends and to see what they are up to. (4)

Foursquare's Homepage

What businesses offer special offers with Foursquare?

As stated in the previous section, many restaurants and businesses will offer special discounts for people who check in using Foursquare. While this is nowhere near a complete list of what businesses and restaurants offer deals, a short list can be found here.

Foursquare Deals

What is the idea behind Foursquare?

Foursquare is very exciting because the idea behind it was quite similar to Twitter, but instead of just the “I’m Here” aspect of Twitter, it says “I’m Here, Now What?”. This makes this site more exciting and is what people were wanting to gain out of Twitter, but were unable to. (4)

I. History


When and how was Foursquare developed?

Foursquare was developed after "Dodgeball", a similar but unsuccessful Web 2.0 Application.   Foursquare was co-founded in 2007 by Dennis Crowley and Naveen Selvadurai and they began working on their first version in the fall of 2008.  Foursquare was launched in March 2009.  Foursquare is funded by Union Square Ventures, O'Reilly AlphaTech Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz, along with other smaller investors.  As of February 2011, worldwide, it was had nearly seven million users.   

Dennis Crowley discusses Foursquare here.

Crowley discusses again here.

Dennis Crowley's Website

Dennis Crowley- CEO and Co-Founder of Foursquare                                    Naveen Selvadurai- Co-Founder of Foursquare


The Basics

Foursquare relates to other applications because it is quite similar to Twitter or even a Facebook status. Twitter is a similar Web 2.0 application in which users are able to use the internet to tell others what they are doing. When you check-in on Foursquare you are updating your status. When you check-in to a location it allows your friends to see where you are and what you are doing. Thus enabling you and your friends to be connected and stay connected! (3)

To get started you just use your e-mail address as your log-in and then you create your password and you are ready to start earning points! Once you have logged-in for the first time, you can upload a picture if you wish, and then you can start adding your friends. A neat aspect of Foursquare is that you can log in from your Facebook, Twitter, or E-mail to see if any of your friends are signed up as well so that you can add them.On the homepage of your log-in screen you can see your list of Top 12 places and your To-Do List. It also shows you how many points you have, total check-ins, the badges you have earned, and your friends.

The most infamous example of Foursquare marketing involves the competition embodied by the mayor status. Many venues are offering perks to the user with the mayor’s title, which has sparked further frenzy among users keen on claiming their territory.“We offer our Mayor a free medium coffee based drink or a Texas beer when they check in,” says J.R. Cohen, general manager of The Coffee Groundz in Houston, Texas. “So far it has caused such a stir between many friends of ours that they are fighting over check-ins.” “We offer an all day happy hour for the Mayor & 1 guest,” Oras adds. “We have had a few mayor battles where literally someone came in for a drink just to steal back the title of Mayor.

The Foursquare Application is popular on the iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, and Palm, but is downloadable on other devices. You are also able to follow Foursquare on Twitter and Tumblr. Essentially, the application is a way for businesses to encourage people to come to their restaurant, because once in a restaurant you can log in to Foursquare and get points for being there. The more you visit places, the more points you receive and "badges" you earn, and if you are the most frequent visitor, you become the mayor. Also, if you create your own business, you're able to register the business with Foursquare as a form of advertisment. And also, large businesses will notify you through Foursquare of specials that are going on in the business as well.

When you are using the Foursquare Application on the iPhone, Blackberry, Android and Palm, the application uses GPS to show a list of places that are close to you. If you want to check-in, all you have to do is just choose the name of the place you're at from a list of nearby places.  If Foursquare doesn't have the place you're looking for you can always add it so that others can check-in there in the future! And if you are the kind of person who is skeptical about Foursquare knowing where you are all the time, you shouldn't be because Foursquare will only know your location if you check-in and tell them. (5)

If you want to check-in to a place without your friends knowing where you are, you can make an "off the grid" check-in. This is when you check-in but you hide your location. You might want to do this if you don't want to be bothered! And you don't have to worry about not getting your points because you still can even though your friends don't know where you are! (5)

If you would like to watch a video on how to use Foursquare click here: (13)

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II. How "Foursquare" Relates to Other Applications


 What can Foursquare do for me?

By using Foursquare you can learn more about your friends.  You can learn what they like to do in free time, where they like to eat, and the places that they visit frequently. Foursquare can give you insight to some of the new “hotspots” or latest hangouts, and new restaurants. Foursquare can also allow you to make lists of your favorite things to do and it allows for others to see those things. Foursquare can show all the places that you have gone and are going, it helps to create a sort of profile for you and your friends, and can even suggest new places to try out because it coincides with your interests.  While being out and about you can check-in to places and see what kinds of reviews that businesses have earned from everyday public opinions, your friends opinions, or maybe your own opinions.  Foursquare can give advice as to places to go and things to try while you’re there, it can lead you from what is best on a menu to where the next place is that you should experience. It can even give you information as to who is having sales or discounts.

Another really cool thing about Foursquare is that users can also create "Tips" and "To-Dos" for places that they go to. This allows other users to be able to give their thoughts about the places they visited. Say you go to a restaurant and they serve the most amazing sandwich you have ever eaten, you could make a "Tip" for that restaurant telling everyone to order that sandwich when they go to that restaurant. According to the Foursquare help section the creators "wanted foursquare to be as much about sharing experience as it is about connecting with friends and discovering new places." And the help section also explains that the "To-Dos are more 'notes to self' ("Remember to come back and try the pesto noodles")". If there are "Tips" for the place that you check-in they will pop up when you are checked-in to that location. (5)

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Unique Application Effects

By far, one of the most unique aspects of Foursquare is that the application awards points through its point system.  It is very easy for an individual to earn points.  A Foursquare user can earn points by checking-in, going multiple places in one night, or bringing friends with themto the places they chose to go.  Earning points allows an individaul the ability to accomplish the difficult task of earn badges.  Badges are earned by completing objectives such as checking-in at different places, finding new places, experiencing new places with new people, meeting new friends, or traveling to places far away and checking-in from there.  An individual can even earn badges by completing simple tasks, such as working out or even singing.  The best thing about the point and badge system is that an individual has the capability of becoming the mayor of the place in which they have the most check-ins.  Foursquare keeps track of which individuals
have been to the check in places the most, and the businesses then give away free things such as ice cream, coffee, and even hotel stays. The points are reset on Sunday nights and all your work starts over again on Monday allowing everyone an opportunity to be involved and have the chance to become mayor.  Individuals have to fight to stay on top, but that is what makes the application fun while giving everyone a chance to reap benefits from the site use.  The idea is that businesses, along with the Foursquare application, gain exposure with concumers.  Many businesses are using this application and offer great deals for visiting their places of business. So join and start reaping the benefits! Points are awarded using this system:  5 points for the first time you check-in, 5 points for adding a new check-in location, and it is 1 point for each check-in and it increases by 1 point each time you check-in again (for example:  1st time checking-in you receive 1 point, the second time you check-in is 2 points and so on). (5)

Foursquare can be used in the business setting by having customers compete for who becomes the "mayor" of the business. Free food, drinks, merchandise, etc. can be awarded to the mayor of the business. This attracts competition between customers, therefore, increases revenue. (3) Some store owners do not actually give out any freebies for customers who are Foursquare users, however, there are a few exceptions.  Some places give out free stuff to their Foursquare users for different things such as dethroning the mayor.  Some businesses see Foursquare as a good thing because it is free publicity for their business. Some venues promote their involvement with Foursquare via Twitter, signs at cash registers and sidewalk blackboards.  Some are just starting to make these specials "official" by including them in our mobile apps and on our website. Local businesses often encourage users to show their phones to servers and cashiers as a way to prove their loyalty to a particular place. (5)

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Pair Foursquare to maximize its' potential 

 Foursquare has partnered with many other applications, such as Social Great, which is an application that uses Foursquare check-ins to track the most popular spots with your friends, so you can check where your friends like to hang out and the most popular spots around you for people to hang out. Another application that's used hand-in-hand with Foursquare is Layar 2.0, which has a virtual browser where you can overlap your Foursquare visits and earned points with the entire world, and compare yourself to the rest of the world. Another fun application to use right along with Foursquare is Mob Zombies, which is an application that tracks your Foursquare visits and location points, then pits you against zombie hordes. Yip-It is an application that alerts a Foursquare user of sales and deals of your
most visited places. is an application used with Foursquare that makes it easy to check-in to a restaurant, all you have to do is send a picture of yourself in the restaurant to a registered number. Foursquare X is the same application except used with a Mac instead of a phone or other device. One other application that is useful with Foursquare is the application Fourwhere, which is a bunch of comments and tips from Foursquare users located on Google Maps to help people choose a restaurant to eat at. (10)

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III. Real World Application


-Lesson Plans  

  • Elementary

Getting to Know Your Town: This is a lesson for elementary students to help them learn and recognize important locations in their town. Ex.) Police station, Fire station, etc.

^Elementary Lesson Plan-Learning Your Town.docx 

Elementary Lesson Plan-Learning Your Town.pdf

^Elementary Lesson Plan-Library Mayor.docx

Elementary Lesson Plan-Library Mayor.pdf

 Elementary Lesson Plan-NSEW.pdf

 This is a lesson plan dedicated to teaching students about North, South, East, and West.  This will also teach them to use a compass.

 Elementary Lesson Plan- NSEW.doc

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Busy Business: This is a lesson for elementary students to help them learn about businesses around them and the importance of using the internet to do research while incorporating Foursquare.

Elementary Lesson Plan Busy Business.docxElementary Lesson Plan Busy Business.docx

Elementary Lesson Plan Busy Business.pdfElementary Lesson Plan Busy Business.pdf

  • Secondary

High School Economics Class- A lesson plan that will incorporate Foursquare as well as include marginal benefit and marginal cost, two key terms of any economics class.

Secondary Lesson Plan- Economics Class


High School Geography Class- A lesson plan for a high school geography class that uses Foursquare and logging in to the application and gaining points at nearby restaurants to help students get to know the geography around them while using technology.

Secondary Lesson Plan- Geography Class


High School Technology Class- A lesson plan for a high school technology class that compares the difference between Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 applications. Uses Foursquare as the main example for the Web 2.0 applications. 

Secondary Lesson Plan- Technology Class


High School Economics Class - A lesson plan for a high school economics class that discusses the pros and cons of using different forms of media to advertise a business. Students will use Foursquare as the primary media tool and compare its advantages/disadvantages with other established forms of media.

Secondary Lesson - Economics/Marketing Class


High School Guitar Class- A lesson plan for a high school class on the history and use of the guitar that uses a field trip and a scavenger hunt to find locations around Memphis, Tennessee.  The students will check in at their locations on Foursquare to show that they have reached their destination. 

Secondary Lesson Plan for Guitar Class


 Using Foursquare in Coordinate Planes Lesson Plan.docx

Using Foursquare in Coordinate Planes Lesson Plan.pdf

using Foursqure with the FOIL method

FOIL Method.pdf

  • Post-Secondary

Campus Scavenger Hunt:  This is a lesson to help students learn about different locations and opportunities on campus and it may help them meet some new people along the way.

 ^Campus Scavenger Hunt.docx

Campus Scavenger Hunt.pdf

 Study Abroad Check-In:  This is a lesson to help students that are studying abroad to check-in with their supervisor so they can track each students progress and to help students find one another.

 ^Study Abroad Check-In.docx

Study Abroad Check-In-1.pdf

Learning About The Internet and Foursquare in an Educational Environment: This is a lesson to help students learn and review what they know about the Internet while learning about the website Foursquare. They will also learn how to use Foursquare in an educational environment and why it is helpful.

Learning About Internet and Foursquare.docx

Learning About Internet and Foursquare.pdf

Learning How to use Foursquare to find your way around a campus: This lesson plan is to help new students on a college campus find their way around by using the application Foursquare

 Foursquare Campus Search

 Foursquare Campus Search.pdf

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How is Foursquare used in the Business/Industry Setting?

Foursquare is an attractive application to businesses, because it markets the business to consumers. Promotions for free food, drinks, merchandise, etc. can be awarded to the mayor(individual who visits most often) of the business. This attracts competition between customers, therefore, increases revenue. (3) One may say capitalism at its best?  Some places give out free stuff to their Foursquare users for different accomplishments, such as dethroning the mayor.  Some businesses see Foursquare as a good thing because it is free publicity for their business. Some venues promote their involvement with Foursquare via Twitter, signs at cash registers and sidewalk blackboards.  Some are just starting to make these specials "official" by including them in our mobile apps and on our website. Local businesses often encourage users to show their phones to servers and cashiers as a way to prove their loyalty to a particular place. (5)

Foursquare is not only being used to give away free drinks, Foursquare is also helping communities and foundations.  Each time someone “checks in” at an Earthjustice poster in the San Francisco BART stations, one of Earthjustice’s donors will give $10 to support American Pika.(11)

For a quote from The New York Times:  

 "The Earthjustice campaign appears to be among the first to let people check in at a physical billboard, a tactic that has proved successful for the firm and could be attractive to other advertisers, according to industry analysts and Foursquare executives." (13)

For example:

"Foursquare says you've been here 10x? That's a free drink for you!" 

"Foursquare has deemed you the mayor (a.k.a. you've been here more than any other user)? Enjoy this free order of French fries."

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IV. Demonstration of Educational Value


According to Crowley, Foursquare is doing a partnership with the Travel Channel to share information on historical data found while people are traveling. Foursquare has partnered with Bravo. For more information on the educational uses of Foursquare please view this link. (9)

At Harvard University, they used Foursquare to help students learn about their campus and find new locations on campus by using the application.  They also hope that this application will help bring people together and help students to meet new people. As previously mentioned, colleges like Harvard are beginning to use Foursquare to help students get to know their campus and their surroundings, but UNC Charlotte is taking it to another level. "The Business and Auxiliary Services on campus, along with campus dinning partners, made an outline of promotions that students, faculty, staff, and visitors may find valuable.Foursquare users that check-in at UNC Charlotte may yield an electronic coupon to a nearby dinning venue, and if you become the Mayor the coupon has a greater value." (6)

 As another example of using Foursquare for an educational campaign, Urban Ministries of Durham (UMD) — a North Carolina nonprofit organization providing food, shelter and clothing to the city’s homeless — is launching a Foursquare initiative designed to raise awareness around homelessness in Durham.  The nonprofit is spotlighting unusual venues such as abandoned warehouses, dumpsters and old construction sites by seeding them as Foursquare places in the downtown area of Durham.  This can show people how homeless people are effecting their lives.(12)

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V. How Foursquare is used internationally


According to Crowley, 40% of Foursquare usage is outside of the United States in countries such as Europe and Asia. He also stated that Tokyo is on its way to becoming the largest city after New York City and San Francisco. (9) Foursquare is used just as frequently in other countries as it is here. However, in countries that are outside the United States, it is only available for people with the iPhone, Android, Blackberry, or Palm phones. Within the US, there is an SMS texting short-cut for people who do not have own one of the previously mentioned phones, in which you can send a message to the number 50500 about your current location to earn points. For now, this SMS short-cut is only available in the US, and if a person outside of the US does not have one of the above listed phones, there is no way for the person to use Foursquare.

On Oct. 26, 2010 an astronaut used Foursquare to check into a space station. Foursquare was also recently used in London as a way to check in items to a store. Jimmy Choo used Foursquare to inform his customers that a certain store was carrying his product.

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 VI. Is Foursquare Dangerous?

In a rare instance, two developing majorors made a destination as their friends door.  The only way the people could"check-in" was to open/ break into the door.  These two men put thier friends' life in danger by giving out the combination to his garage.  This was all used with Foursquare. (14)

VII. References

This page was created by:

Katherine Vail, Anna Douglass, Dylan Broshar, Victoria Clark, Taylor Weir, Nicole Ardaiolo, Nurdan Kildir, Damla Aydug, and Ramazan Aksu.

This page was edited by: Matt Day, Drake Barrett, and Eli Kvachkoff










9.) Crowley, Dennis. Personal Connection.















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  1. Unknown User (dbroshar)

    if anyone is randomly on this web-page could they help me on adding a table of contents?

    1. hi!
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