At Scot Gov Camp in Edinburgh in August 2010 I led a discussion on Foursquare, predicting that it had the potential to become the next big thing in social media terms.
Two years on there's certainly more awareness of Foursquare, and the number of users continues to break records, but government organisations still don't seem to 'get' Foursquare.
Millions of times a day, people use Foursquare to check in and share where they are. Whether checking out a new restaurant, meeting up with friends, or visiting a favorite boutique, they are chronicling and sharing their adventures. Designated as a business or brand on Foursquare, a government organisation can be a big part of that experience.
Foursquare offers a free set of tools to help venues (eg a swimming pool or cafe in a park) attract new customers and keep their best ones coming back.
If you think of a government organisation as a brand (eg Orkney Islands Council), then Foursquare offers a unique way to stay engaged with followers no matter where they happen to be in the world.
Check out this merchants case study about the New York Public Library's use of Foursquare: https://foursquare.com/business/merchants/casestudies/nypl
Critics of Foursquare usually say they don't want everyone knowing where they are at any given time, or that it is all but a thieves' charter ("Hey, I'm down at Tesco, please burgle my house whilst I'm there"). Foursquare allows you to check-in to a venue 'off the grid' which means that your check-in isn't made public.
To those unfamiliar with Foursquare the idea of earning badges might seem rather childish but badges are a great way of engaging customers and building loyalty to a brand or venue.
I'd like to have a discussion about Foursquare and its relevance to government to explore how we individually and collectively might improve the state of play.
Look out for my other idea about earning a Foursquare swarm badge on Saturday.