Foursquare Isn’t Just for Fictional Mayors Anymore

bloomberg-quimbyforno1slotEven if you haven’t tried Foursquare, you gotta admit, vanilla honey cupcakes in sunny Corpus Christi, TX, sound good.

The coastal city in southeast Texas is one of 14 municipalities that have officially declared Saturday to be “Foursquare Day.” And they are all holding fun-oriented activities in the vein of Corpus Christi’s cupcakes – which will include an image of Foursquare’s “Swarm Badge” – to attract crowds and to see if their citizens cotton to the geo-social service.

“There are more than 500 events going on around the world,” a spokesperson for the New York-based Foursquare told ClickZ.

One year ago, Foursquare was simply trying to get to the one-million-user mark. Now it has topped 8 million users and is being embraced by “mayors” – and real, publicly elected mayors at that.

Earlier today, New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg announced on Twitter that his metropolis would recognize April 16 as “Foursquare Day.” And according to a tweet by Foursquare CEO Dennis Crowley, Bloomberg stopped by the geo-social company’s facilities for 40 minutes this morning to chat about business.

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn is also getting into the act of promoting Foursquare as a marketing platform for mom-and-pop businesses. He’ll name one of his citizens “Foursquare Mayor of Tampa” on Saturday. Whoever gets the honor should probably expect to see a donations promotion from Buckhorn or his political party on Foursquare during the next election cycle.

Indeed, while some industry watchers have focused on retailers’ recent Foursquare successes, the platform probably hasn’t even scratched the surface as a marketing tool for politicians. The same could be said for Facebook Places, as well as other geo-social platforms like Gowalla, Whrrl, and Loopt.

Meanwhile, many “Foursquare Day” organizers around the country also want to raise money for charities. Here are some of their planned activities:

  • Las Vegas residents are holding a food truck festival. Those checking in will be encouraged to donate cans of food for the underprivileged.
  • In San Francisco, a group is hosting a party at a local restaurant – while partnering with Sapporo Beer – to raise money for a charitable organization.
  • Foursquare users in Portland, OR, have put together a meet-up and plan to donate $1 per check-in to Red Cross relief efforts in Japan.
  • In Victoria, British Columbia, users have ordered a customized cake that will include an image of a Foursquare badge. They plan to blow out the candles at 4:16 p.m. to commemorate the day.
  • Small conferences are being held in Portsmouth, NH, Indianapolis, IN, and Pune, India, to educate geo-social newbies.
  • Kalamazoo, MI, residents are holding a party that will include a tour of their city while checking in at various establishments.
  • Four events are being planned in Thailand that will revolve around the Songkran Festival, the traditional Thai New Year’s celebration.

Lastly, the origin behind “Foursquare Day”: It was coined last year by Tampa, FL-based optometrist Nate Bonilla-Warford. He came up with idea after thinking about a calculation, 4^2 = 16. And because 4 squared equals 16, Bonilla-Warford created the concept of checking in via Foursquare on the fourth month and 16th day of the year – April 16.

In prepared remarks, Bonilla-Warford talked about his marketing-based motivations. “As a small business owner in the current economic climate, I am always seeking ways to trim expenses and create more meaningful relationships with my patients,” he said. “As an avid foursquare user, I quickly realized that the service could do both: provide free word of mouth advertising and provide an experience that is fun and unique.”

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