Foursquare Releases Social Search-Centric Redesign

After relegating check-ins to a different app in May, Foursquare debuted a redesign of its core functionality on August 6 that instead focuses on social search.

And this, in turn, should open additional opportunities for brands to reach consumers on the network, insiders say.

Foursquare users have always left tips about everything from menu recommendations to free WiFi codes. In its current incarnation, those tips can be liked and saved, earning those who leave them expert status. Users can become experts not only at specific venues, but in neighborhoods and categories.

“Tips are the atomic currency now, not check-ins,” explains Noah Weiss, vice president of product management at Foursquare.

Once someone has achieved expert status, their tips will be marked higher up, reaching more people. Users can also look at tipsters’ profiles and see their other tips and areas of expertise. The idea behind the redesign is to let everyone tailor Foursquare to their own personal preferences.

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“We all have different tastes. Maybe you’re a vegetarian and I like steak. So why do we all get the same search results on Yelp and Google?” Weiss asks. “We wanted to make it easy for people when they look at tips to say, ‘How reputable is this person?”

Another new aspect of Foursquare 8.0 is that it will be constantly searching for recommendations, based on users’ tastes, tips and trusted experts. Though the Swarm app has never taken off in popularity — it’s been rated 4,087 times in Apple’s AppStore, with an average rating of a star and a half — experts say the new features could help get Foursquare back in many users’ good graces. 

Tessa Wegert, communications director at digital agency Enlighten, believes that with increased engagement, Foursquare 8.0 will go over well.

“Whether they’re bloggers or Goodreads book reviewers or frequent posters to Yelp, people are eager to show what they know,” Wegert says. “I think it’s about cementing their identity while also displaying their social media savvy.”

A surge in popularity will mean extra opportunity for companies to use Foursquare as a marketing tool.

More than 1.9 million businesses already do. One of those businesses, frozen yogurt chain Tasti D-Lite, awards users points for each check-in. Another, the Corcoran Group, writes frequent tips, branding itself as a trusted expert in the New York neighborhoods where it sells and rents real estate.

“People use it as an organic marketing tool, promoting dishes and specials,” Weiss says. “If anything, this is just going to be even more people they can reach. This is the perfect context for a business to reach them.”

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