We rolled out a new feature that now allows you to name your hometown on your public-facing profile page, so you can show your hometown pride and help friends find you via search! This can be helpful if you have a common name (e.g. Jane Smith) and friends searching for you may find more than one result for your name.
When we made this feature live on Friday, your hometown was automatically set as the city where you last checked in on Thursday, so if you want to correct it or update it at any time, go to your settings page and click the blue “edit” link next to Account Info on the right. If you’d prefer not to have a hometown associated with your account, feel free to edit this field and leave it blank.
So, make sure to update your hometown (see the above screenshot) to your desired location. When foursquare friends look at your profile page on the web, they will see your hometown listed below your name plus a feed of your recent public check-ins (as always). Based on the example above, Jimmy Foursquare will show as being in New York, NY in the public search, although his last check-in was in Medway, MA (only his friends will see that he checked in there).
A note to superusers: you can still change your “currently in” location as you have in the past to see merge queues for other cities (circled, above). This is distinct from your hometown, as hometown ONLY changes based on your edit of account settings from foursquare.com/settings.
Foursquare was created to motivate people to discover interesting things around them. As the platform has evolved, we’ve started to experiment with many different ways to encourage users to explore, from surfacing great tips that come from the friends you trust to rewarding users who frequent the gym or commute via public transit. Thousands of merchants, too, are actively claiming their venues in the system and providing additional incentives on the platform in the form of Special offers and Mayor Offers. Some of these are sole proprietors such as the Mermaid Inn in our hometown of New York City, while others are nationwide initiatives from the likes of Starbucks, Sports Authority, Ben & Jerrys, and Whole Foods.
We continue to be inspired and excited as we observe merchants leveraging the platform to engender customer loyalty, drive foot traffic and boost customer acquisition.
+ Starbucks: Starbucks offered $1 off any size Frappuccino® for its mayors. Since running their Mayor Special on foursquare, Starbucks (already the most checked in retailer on the platform prior to running the Special) has seen a 50% increase in Check-Ins at its locations. Also, not only are our users excited about the competition the mayor deal creates but they’re also welcoming the opportunity to try new products!
+ our friends at Monique’s Chocolates in Palo Alto have acquired over 50 new customers and saw well over 100 redemptions as a result of running a Special Offer over the past seven weeks:
The owner of Monique’s, Mark, also told us that he is running the same Special in his local newspaper (cost of ad = $300!) and has acquired only one customer with one redemption from that print ad. He adds that for those who redeem the Special via foursquare “more than 25% return regularly to get something, to Check in, to see who the mayor is…the gaming part of foursquare really does resonante with people and we’re excited about it!”
+ AJ Bombers, a local burger spot in Milwaukee has seen a 30% increase in menu item purchases from running both a Special (free cookie if you add a tip!) and mayor offer (free burger!)
Joe, the owner, has leveraged foursquare in other innovative ways to drive foot traffic - he was the first to hold “Swarm Badge” and “I’m on a boat” parties for customers!
We LOVE stories like these. We’re deeply motivated to build the best tools to help our merchants use foursquare to get their customers excited about frequenting their venues, while offering sweet deals for our users.
We are taking what we’ve learned so far from these early experiments and introducing a few changes today to make the experience better for users and merchants.
Loyalty offer variability (“Specials Nearby”):
Starting today, users will no longer see the same loyalty offer (Special offer or Mayor offer) over and over but rather see some variability by seeing rotating offers in the “Special Nearby” tab.
The “reach” for Special Offers:
The current location range for offers “nearby” is approximately 200 yards, but will, in the future, be variable based on the user’s location. In more densely populated areas, 200 yards will provide adequate variability. In areas outside of cities, we’re going to increase that range to provide better results for users in less densely populated areas.
Participation from employees:
Thousands of merchants are running Specials on the platform and the majority of Specials in the system are frequency-based (i.e. “every 5th Checkin Special gets you a free appetizer!”). There are also merchants, like Sports Authority, who are running mayor deals. In the past, we’ve not allowed users identified in our system as employees or managers of venues (see staff tool below) to be eligible for mayorships or participate in Foursquare mayor offers.
This restriction remains true, but we are going to make the process of designating employees as staff on foursquare venues much clearer to merchants. We can’t expect all merchants to require employees to mark themselves as such but we can do better (and we will!) as it relates to communicating to our merchants about the benefits of doing so.
User experience is paramount to anything that happens within the Foursquare universe. These early experiments are helping us make a better product and ensure that future offers are as easy to redeem as ever. While the ultimate responsibility rests with the merchant, we want to make sure they have the tools and documentation necessary to teach everyone involved about our programs. As technology advances and Point of Sale systems get smarter, this responsibility can move from humans to barcode scans, loyalty card integrations and other means, thus reducing the potential friction.
As always, we thank you all for the feedback! We will continue to work to build the best product possible for our users and merchants and we welcome the feedback as we continue to iterate the platform based on these early experiments.
— foursquare biz dev team —
We wanted to update you on recent improvements we’ve made to the controls that help users manage what foursquare account information is shared with others. Our goal is to make it easy for you to share check-ins with your friends when you so desire, and to hide such information when you want. Accordingly, each time you check into a venue, we give you the option to share your check-in with friends (or keep it private), and share this information with your friends and followers on Facebook and Twitter if you’ve opted into linking these accounts to your foursquare account.
On the “Settings” page for your account (which can be accessed at http://foursquare.com/settings), we give you even more options for controlling your data — we give you the option to share your phone number and email address with friends, the option to let local business owners see that you’ve checked into their venue, and the option to allow other users see when you’re checked into a venue (in the “Who’s Here” list for that venue in the foursquare mobile application). You can opt in, or opt out, of any of these settings.
A little over a week ago (on Monday the 21st), our developers were alerted to a problem that enabled sophisticated users, by continuously scraping venue pages from our website through anonymous gateways, to capture private check-in information that users didn’t intend to share with the general public. Three days later, our team began rolling out a number of solutions to this problem. First, we ensured that any user that had opted out of appearing in the “Who’s Here” lists no longer appeared in the “Who’s Been Here” photo mosaics on our site (this fix went live last Thursday). Second, we updated the language on our “Settings” page to clarify what opting into the “Who’s Here” feature entails. Third, we randomized the order of the photos being posted under the ”Who’s Been Here” headings on our venue pages to prevent anyone from scraping this data to try to estimate check-in times of various users.
So that’s the techie detail. What does it mean in plain English? There was a glitch in our service that allowed sophisticated developers to glean some user check-in info, and we fixed it. We will continue to do all we can to improve user controls over information sharing as we grow our team and our user base.
We’re very sorry if information that users didn’t intend to share was temporarily made public on our venue pages or through our API. Please bear with us… we’re continually looking for ways to improve the sharing options that we provide to our users, and we’re intent on further improving tools and communication in this area. We encourage all of our users to check their privacy settings regularly to ensure that they’re comfortable with the amount of information that they’re sharing.
- team foursquare
Hey all -
It’s been quite the year for foursquare. Last year at this time, Naveen and I - tired of working around my kitchen table - borrowed a desk from our friends at Curbed.com and Hard Candy Shell. Two months later we brought on our first hire (Harry!) and a few weeks after closed on our first round of financing: $1.35m from Union Square Ventures, O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures and a handful of angels. Back then, our office looked like this.
Fast forward a year: We’re now 27 people strong. We can’t fit any more desks or chairs in our office so we’re borrowing cubes from our neighbors downstairs. We’re about to hit 1.8 million users and we’re seeing Super Swarms happen all over the world (Indonesia, you crazy!). In short, it’s been an amazing year for foursquare. A huge thank you to anyone that’s ever unlocked a Newbie badge!
And with that, we’re excited to announce that we’ve raised another round of capital. Today we closed on a $20m Series B round with Union Square Ventures, O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures and our newest partner, Andreessen Horowitz. We’re thrilled to have the continued support of our original investors and additional support and expertise from the team at Andreessen Horowitz.
The two big names behind Andreessen Horowitz - Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz - are each legends in Silicon Valley. They know better than anyone how to transform startups into successful organizations. As we continue to rapidly expand to take advantage of the opportunities in front of us, Ben and Marc’s expertise in growing companies will be invaluable.
With this new round of financing, our main priority will be to expand our organization to supplement the amazing core team we’ve assembled already (know any great engineers? send them our way!). We’re hoping to build a world-class engineering organization, based primarily in our headquarters in New York City, to help us develop the next generation of mobile + social + local products that will excite our users and provide unique value for local merchants. The new investment capital will also help fund the infrastructure needed to house our team (we’re finally getting a new office!) and support our growing audience of nearly 2m users.
It’s been a crazy year for us and we’re expecting the next 12 months to be even more of an adventure. Look forward to more great product from us soon… we’re really just getting started.
- @dens and the rest of team foursquare
Calling all political junkies! C-SPAN has decided to partner with foursquare to keep you up-to-date on the latest news in politics, policy and government. Follow C-SPAN on foursquare to receive programming alerts, access tips about landmarks in Washington D.C. and other U.S. cities, and follow the new C-SPAN Digital Bus, which will be checking in on foursquare at locations across the country this summer. Check it out!
We’re super psyched about the new “Add to foursquare” button that The Wall Street Journal is rolling out today! Now, when you’re reading a restaurant review or other cultural coverage on WSJ.com, you’ll be able to click a button to add the venue(s) mentioned in the article to your foursquare to-do list, along with a tip written by a WSJ editor and a link back to the original article.
The Wall Street Journal is our first partner to experiment with the “Add to foursquare” button, but we hope to start rolling out this feature for other partners soon. Stay tuned!