It’s a long way from New York City’s next mayoral election in 2013, but Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s recent nods and winks towards Foursquare users sure looks like a good way to easily build “cool” equity with young voters. Foursquare and Bloomberg said today that users of the geo-social platform can now “follow” the mayor.
“Mayor Mike,” as he likes to be called, checked into City Hall yesterday for the 61st time and announced on Twitter that he was the Foursquare mayor of that location. Bloomberg on April 14 participated in “Foursquare Day,” along with the mayors of 13 other U.S. municipalities. The three-term mayor even stopped by Foursquare’s New York offices the day before and chatted with CEO Dennis Crowley for roughly 40 minutes.
Whether Bloomberg runs for office again or not, his newfound interest in location-based communications underscores how the political sector appears to be awakening to the medium.
For instance, Florida’s Charlie Crist, then a U.S. Senate hopeful, and Texas Governor Rick Perry tested Foursquare competitor Gowalla as a campaign tool last year. Perry won reelection and has since collected 32 Gowalla stamps on the geo-social app. Crist lost his bid, but it wasn’t because his team failed to innovate. It used Gowalla’s custom stamp during rallies, fundraisers, town hall meetings, or other campaign trail events.
In addition, Republican digital shop Engage last year began offering politicians its Multiply product. While not exactly a check-in service, it borrows from mobile-centric loyalty programs to build community and inspire activism for door-to-door canvassing, fundraising events, get-out-the-vote efforts, and other key activities driving political campaigns. Its tools let campaigns attach a system for awarding prize points and badges to their sites, and connect with Facebook’s social graph to encourage sharing among supporters’ social networks.