Some weeks ago we wrote a blog entitled Foursquare Explained. As a follow up to that basic, introductory piece on the geo-location platform, I decided to write a more personal account of my experience of using it for the better part of a year now. [These views are my own and don't necessarily reflect the views of my colleagues at NSDesign...]
Gradually though, over the past year, things have changed. More and more friends and colleagues have begun to “check-in” places too. It seems as though I’m averaging about a friend a day requesting to connect on Foursquare.
At first when I joined, it seemed like it would be like Twitter and you’d want to get lots of friends (you can even go through your various address books and social media platforms to find who’s using it and add them), but as more and more people began to use it and “check in” places, I found my inbox would be inundated by people, literally all over the globe, pinging me their locations.
No disrespect to say, my American friends and colleagues, but I have little or no interest in knowing they logged into such-and-such bar, deli, restaurant, gym, supermarket or school.
Nor, I suspect would they care, that I’ve logged in here at NSDesign,…yet again. (I am Mayor here, incidentally, see pic below).
So lately I’ve been mulling over some of my gripes which I thought I’d pass on to you, a possible Foursquare user or future user. Honestly the aim is not to “gripe”, but rather to help you avoid alienating your friends and colleagues should you begin checking in everywhere you go…
1) MANAGE YOUR ACCOUNT WELL
From the onset, log onto the website foursquare.com - click on “me” (or your name in the top right near your photo) and then choose “friends” from the top/middle navigation (or down the right hand side of the screen, where you’ll see your “friends” listed).
Select “see all” and then, when you get that page up, you’ll find it has “Manage Your Friends” at the top. Choose the middle tab “Friends”. I currently have just twenty-two foursquare friends (which is more than enough!)…
On the right hand side – opposite each friend – there is a box which can be selected or de-selected. Un-tick the box if you DO NOT wish your check-ins (“pings”) to be broadcast to these people.
Again, I suggest you’re choosy with who sees your updates. . .
2) PING YOUR GOOD PALS ONLY
As I say, I highly suggest you ONLY ping to your real friends…especially those near you. For example, if someone is in Edinburgh and you’re in Glasgow – do you really need to notify each other of your many check ins through the day? Probably not, unless it’s a close friend or colleague or otherwise really relevant.
Of my more-than-twenty foursquare.com friends – only about five or six get my actual “pings” when I check in.
3) DON’T TWEET YOUR EVERY STEP
This is a gem. I have a few friends (who shall remain nameless, bless them) who log in as they’re passing a store, at a train/bus/tube station or going over a bridge. Really? Did I (or anyone) really need to know that? Not unless we’re meeting there!
My simple advice is only send to Twitter any place you’re going to be for a while – a seminar, restaurant, cinema etc.
Sometimes I do actually log in from my local tube station, but usually remember to not ping/tweet the info and check in “off the grid” – again because no one would really benefit from such knowledge.
4) TO BROADCAST OR NOT TO BROADCAST?
Remember that you don’t always have to “ping” or “tweet”. Sometimes I will do one or the other, sometimes both and sometimes neither – again always depending on the venue I’m checking in at. Do I want people to know I am at my doctors for a check up? Filling up at the local petrol station? At the fruit and veg store? Probably not? Who cares?
5) AVOID SOCIAL MEDIA SPAMMING
I suspect if you’re anything like me, many of your Foursquare friends are already on your Twitter list, are Facebook friends or connected on LinkedIn – so, in essence some of your check ins may be double-check-ins or even triple check-ins and thus bordering on SPAM.
Now I will be honest with you, I admit I only learned these things after pretty much breaking all the above rules. Am sure I alienated one or two folks, but now am much more conscious of my check ins.
At first Foursquare can be a really fun thing – you check in, you get your badges and become mayor sometimes too – what fun!
You can see where your pals are (or where they last checked in), but quickly, in just a matter of months, it has amounted to clogging up my inbox and my Twitter feeds with a lot of pointless guff. I figure if all my pals check-ins are annoying me, then my “check ins” may be annoying others.
So the moral of this story is relevancy. Do you need to know where I am? Do I need to know where you are? If in doubt, again, use the check in “off the grid” option and let’s leave it at that.