Maybe Facebook Places won’t be so bad for Foursquare after all. Initially reported by Mashable, Foursquare CEO Dennis Crowley tweeted on Thursday that his company had its “biggest day ever in terms of new user signups.”
The disclosure came one day after Facebook launched its location-based feature, which some industry pundits had deemed a “Foursquare killer.”
Foursquare spokesperson Erin Gleason didn’t disclose the specific number of new new signups, but in an e-mail to ClickZ she said the company was growing steadily.
“We’ve been adding 15,000 to 20,000 new users a day for the past several months, and we saw a significant increase yesterday,” Gleason said. “We haven’t done advertising in the past, and we don’t have any plans to start advertising right now. By entering the space, Facebook is familiarizing more people with the idea of the check in, which is a good thing for us. Once people get familiar with the concept and start seeing the value of sharing their location with friends, we believe they’ll be drawn to Foursquare because of the interesting features we’re building on top of the check in.”
Along with Gowalla, Yelp, and Booyah, Foursquare was announced as an official partner with Facebook on Wednesday. It was a development that surprised many industry watchers.
And, it would appear that the publicity surrounding the launch of Facebook Places on Wednesday has at least temporarily worked to Foursquare’s advantage. In addition, the geo-social brand hopes to receive an upgraded style of Facebook distribution for its merchants’ campaigns during user check-ins.
To be clear, check-ins on Foursquare and other services have already been published on Facebook for users who enable connections. But through these official partnerships, brand logos for retailers like Domino’s U.K. on Foursquare could appear in a user’s newsfeed on Facebook, for instance.
Holger Luedorf, VP of mobile and partnerships at Foursquare, spoke with ClickZ after the press conference in Palo Alto, CA, on Wednesday and offered a cautiously optimistic take on the new branded possibilities on Facebook. “There’s clearly a benefit to that,” Luedorf said “Whether they click [the logo] and go to explore further what that brand or retailer is all about is, I think, a different story. What I can say is that in our case the merchants have seen a lot of success with some of the campaigns they have done. And we will likely just keep going. If it is a benefit to both our users and our merchants, then we will probably decide to use [brand partners’ logos].”
At the same time, most industry watchers believe enough of Facebook’s 500 million users will begin using the Places platform to quickly blow by Foursquare’s roughly 3 million users. Mike Lazerow, CEO of Buddy Media, suggested that it was a foregone conclusion.
“To date, [a small percentage] of American adults have used Foursquare and similar geo-location services,” he said. “That’s all about to change. It’s been clear for quite some time that no one can popularize location-based social marketing at scale like Facebook. In terms of social marketing impact, this functionality can allow retailers to find the holy grail of being able to serve geo-targeted ads or coupons to users who check-in near one of their physical locations.”
In related news, it was announced on Friday that Facebook has purchased check-in service Hot Potato. Reports by TechCrunch and MediaMemo estimate the technology-based acquisition to be at least $10 million. Hot Potato will be shutting down its New York offices and moving the company’s eight-person team to Facebook’s headquarters.
Facebook spokesperson Jonny Thaw e-mailed ClickZ the following statement about the development: “We’re excited to confirm that we recently acquired Hot Potato, a service that helps people socialize around live events and share what they’re doing with friends. We’ve admired for some time how Hot Potato is tackling this space and look forward to working with them to bring Hot Potato innovations to Facebook.”