Foursquare is a geo-social networking platform that allows users to register their whereabouts in specific locations, and at the same time leave comments, tips and take photographs of locations, which are known as venues. Foursquare requires users to have a ‘smartphone’ with the Foursquare application installed. It works by calculating the position of the phone through its GPS function, so users need to be very close to the venue into which they are checking into. Foursquare is also a social network, in that users can search for people they may know and add them as ‘friends’. For many users Foursquare is treat very much like a game, whereby friends compete against each other to check into the most number of venues, and become Foursquare venue ‘mayors’. A mayor is the person who has checked into a venue on the most number of days over the previous 60 days. For checking into venues, Foursquare users are awarded points and various badges.
From a professional networking perspective, Foursquare is a novel tool, which allows users to see who is at the same venue as what they are. The real usefulness of this is when the venue is an actual networking setting, for example a conference, lecture or trade show. This would allow users to see which other users have checked into the same venue as them. From a business networking perspective, Foursquare allows venue owners the opportunity to communicate with, and listen to feedback from their customers. Foursquare synchronises very easily with both Facebook and Twitter, this is part of its appeal, for social networkers, it easily allows Facebook friends to see where they are, but for Twitter uses, this allows for social or professional networking to take place, by tweeting the users location, along with a short message or photograph.
At present Foursquare has a relatively small user-base, as of December 2010, there were 5 million registered users (Merino, 2010). As the proliferation of smartphones continues, so will the number of Foursquare users. This is certainly a networking tool with a great deal of potential, and one that in future will have a greater significance for professional, business and social networkers. It is advisable to any student or graduate with a smartphone to investigate Foursquare, as with LinkedIn, becoming au-fait with this platform, at this early growth stage, will equip users with skills, which will be more recognised and desirable by employers in future.
To some industry figures, the use of such apps may be scorned due to their relative newness. The same thing happened around 15 years ago with the adoption of the Internet and domain names, leaving many companies and organisations red-faced and behind their competitors. Students and graduates are advised now to register with networking apps, and for those apps that are being used to professionally represent the user, create professional profiles, with sensible credible usernames and profile images. In years to come the value of established and well-used profiles, and the value of usernames will become apparent. Those who are not prepared will find themselves disadvantaged – it could be a good idea to register your username as your own name now, with a variety of networking apps, whether you actually go on to use them very much or not.
The only certainty with networking in the connected age is that it will continue to become faster, easier and more prolific in future. Students and graduates need to appreciate the power and value of online networking. Making the transition from Facebook to LinkedIn for students who become graduates will become an accepted right of passage, designed to facilitate future career progression. Being prepared to make that transition, and being prepared to be open to using new and emerging networking tools, will help to future-proof the skill-set of graduates. Embrace the technology, because its proliferation into our every-day lives is only ever going to increase.
Quantcast. (2010) Twitter.com. [Internet] San Francisco, Quantcast Corporation. URL available from: