Foursquare yesterday placed a Facebook Like button on each of its thousands of venue pages for mostly local businesses on its Web site. The button doesn’t currently appear when users utilize the Foursquare mobile application, though.
Alex Rainert, head of product for the New York-based company, characterized the move as a test while Foursquare looks to possibly implement other Facebook social plug-ins. Rainert said the buttons can help grow the one-year-old Foursquare’s user base, which has jumped by about 700,000 in the last seven weeks and now totals more than 1.1 million.
“I think any time you can integrate with Facebook in a way that benefits your users – i.e., they use it – you have a chance to grow your audience,” he said. “We want to see how people use [the buttons] before we go too far down the road of sprinkling them everywhere.”
Foursquare.com users that hit the Like button will share their sentiment about a local establishment in their Facebook activity feeds. Facebook friends who click on the hyperlinked text will be taken to the venue’s Foursquare page.
Reinert said therein lies a potential benefit to businesses on Foursquare. “By allowing users to share the venues they ‘Like’ on Facebook in their feeds, other Facebook users will be pulled back to their venue pages on our site.”
To be clear, the thrust of Foursquare’s business lies in people regularly using its mobile app – not the Web site. Research firm Compete reports that Foursquare.com received a little more than 2 million unique visitors in March. Whether or not users take to the Like buttons and if that leads to mobile integration – remains to be seen.
Yet Foursquare’s integration of the three-week-old Like button appears intriguing. Rumors have swirled in recent weeks about Facebook, Yahoo, and Microsoft attempting to scoop up Foursquare for around $100 million.
When asked if the Like test could be interpreted as a sign that any kind of agreement between Facebook and Foursquare was in the offing, Rainert responded: “Us implementing the Like buttons reflects nothing more than our team wanting to leverage a tool that makes sense for our users. Just like the other 50,000 sites that implemented them in the past 10 days.”
Meanwhile, industry players have speculated that Facebook’s so-called open graph platform will lead to the creation of a geo-locations app that could not only contend with Foursquare but surpass it. And the Palo Alto, CA-based social site last week mailed window decals to small businesses, a move that could be interpreted as an encroachment on both Foursquare and Yelp’s local-market turf.
“Facebook is adding about 1.2 million users every day,” said Mike Lazerow, CEO of Buddy Media, who said he met with Facebook executives last month. He said that the social site’s scale will likely allow it to dominate the geo-location space “even if [theoretically] Foursquare has a 10 times better product.”
Follow Christopher Heine on Twitter at @ChrisClickZ.
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