Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Businesses Social Networks Stats The Internet Your Rights Online

How Companies Are Using Data From Foursquare 69

Posted by Roblimo
from the where-did-you-go-today? dept.
wjousts writes: Technology Review reports on how businesses use data from all those Foursquare check-ins. "Merchants can analyze various metrics over time, including how many check-ins are recorded each day, who the most recent and most frequent visitors are, how visitors who check in break down by gender, and what time of day the most people check in; businesses with multiple locations can aggregate statistics to fit their needs. Foursquare provides the same platform 'for Joe's coffee shop and Starbucks,' says Eric Friedman, Foursquare's director of business development, but companies use the tools and data in different ways, depending on their specific objectives. "
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

How Companies Are Using Data From Foursquare

Comments Filter:
  • I dont see how any of these metrics are actually useful in business decisions. What percentage of people actually check in, and of those that do, I bet they actually share quite a bit in common.

    • Re:'Biased' data (Score:4, Insightful)

      by eepok (545733) on Tuesday May 24, 2011 @11:56AM (#36228814) Homepage

      This information is great for overwhelming business owners with unsolicited consultant proposals!

      A advertising/marketing/efficiency/etc. consultant can use all those useless measurements, make assertions about their implications, write a fancy lingo-ridden cold-call proposal (synergize your cost potentials!), and get a contract. It's great for (their) business.

      • by mfh (56)

        You hit the nail on the head!

        Consultants looooove these kinds of metrics because they can spend a half-hour with a customer bombing them with intelligent-looking numbers and then go have lunch. At no point during this exchange will anything business related have transpired, apart from the consultant's bill.

      • by Registered Coward v2 (447531) on Tuesday May 24, 2011 @12:28PM (#36229242)

        This information is great for overwhelming business owners with unsolicited consultant proposals!

        A advertising/marketing/efficiency/etc. consultant can use all those useless measurements, make assertions about their implications, write a fancy lingo-ridden cold-call proposal (synergize your cost potentials!), and get a contract. It's great for (their) business.

        Well, the actual value is in aggregating the data with other information to identify trends that can be applied other within the same socio-econoic demography to extract value from them by offering targeted offerings that trigger desirable pre-defined responses which result beneficial economic transactions to the offerer. By identifying such markers you can maximize the synergies inherent in the cross-functional sharing of data designed to optimize the customer experience and increase the value to the enterprise.

        • by eepok (545733)

          Normally, I'd vomit at the sight of so many weasel words, but I saw what you were doing there and appreciate it. ;)

        • by todrules (882424)
          SOLD!! You got the contract! I don't know what you said, but our business needs it.
    • by wjousts (1529427)
      I think this is a very relevant point. Any statistician will tell you that you can't cherry pick your samples of a population if you hope to learn anything about that population. Even if it's your samples themselves that are doing the picking. Much like how online polls are a waste of time.
    • What they probably have in common is that they're your best customers. The ones who like your operation and care enough to engage you with positive feedback and announce to all their friends and family that they're shopping at your store...those kinds of evangelists for your product are worth their weight in gold. Identifying and pandering to the people who like your store the best and will spend the most money at it and bring in the most new people is kind of the holy grail of advertising.
      • Re:'Biased' data (Score:4, Interesting)

        by stonewallred (1465497) on Tuesday May 24, 2011 @01:47PM (#36230186)
        Using your "good" customers to bring in new customers is a winning game, as long as you continue to provide the same level of service.

        I send out and/or drop off cards to my "good" customers at least once or twice a year.

        They are simple business cards with my standard business card on the front and on the back a 20% discount, parts and labor, printed on the back.

        I take the time to write the customer's name I am sending them to on the card. And the letter I include with the card tells them that if they like my service to please give out the card to folks who might need my services.

        And for every card that is turned in, they will get $20 bucks.

        I usually spend around 300-400 bucks a year redeeming those 20 bucks a pop cards.

        And they usually generate me 80-90 bucks gross profit after the 20 buck payout and 20% off per card.

  •     That's odd.

        All I've seen of Foursquare is that a limited number of people ever check in from any place that I've spot checked.

        Some of us cheat it anyways. There's a workaround for checking in places that you aren't physically at. So I check in at arbitrary places, preferably at or very close to government facilities that makes the tinfoil hat crowd go nuts. So, following my "trail" shows me being anywhere but where I actually am.

        I'm fond of companies tracking us and selling that information. I'm happier when I've seeded their data with so much false information that it's virtually impossible to guess which is right.

      And it's not that I'm one of the folks wearing a tinfoil hat too tight. I just like privacy. I don't think the government is following me. They already know where to find me. :) It's pesky people like private investigators working for someone trying to make easy money through bogus lawsuits. Go ahead, follow the trail. It's good for dealing with crazy ex-girlfriends too. :)

    • by alen (225700)

      just because someone cares exactly where you check in and when and exactly what you do

      foursquare has a chance at being the new loyalty card where loyal customers get freebies once in a while and a way to measure feedback since people can leave comments. otherwise companies care about general customer demographics and when there are big rushes. so that say starbucks can have the most people on staff when people come into the store. i've seen some starbucks with huge lines at 3pm

      • by wjousts (1529427)
        But Starbucks could collect that data easily with some kind of electronic counter on the door. And it would be more accurate because it doesn't rely on the small fraction of people who use foursquare that may or may not reflect the greater population.
        • by alen (225700)

          and people are always writing tips on foursquare so it's customer feedback as well. and advertising with specials keep bringing people in.

          foursquare along with groupon are really tool for the mom and pop to advertise to a lot of people cheaply. that was the whole promise of the internet 15 years ago

          • by drafalski (232178)

            foursquare along with groupon are really tool for the mom and pop to advertise to a lot of people cheaply. that was the whole promise of the internet 15 years ago

            Really? Seems the internet made us different promises. Were mom and pop perhaps running a porn site?

      • by JWSmythe (446288) <jwsmythe@@@jwsmythe...com> on Tuesday May 24, 2011 @12:28PM (#36229248) Homepage Journal

            Check any arbitrary location, and see how many people have checked in there recently. The numbers are generally pretty small.

            Companies already have a perfectly valid method to measure their business. They have their receipts. They know when they sold items, what they sold, how much to stock, and how many people they need working there.

            So there was a line at Starbucks, big deal. They already know how many people that they can have in lines without losing too much business. They look at their costs versus the number of people who may just walk out . If they lose 2 $5 ($10 lost) sales during the 3pm hour, but to handle the load properly they would have needed 3 more people on that shift at $10/hr ($240), it's not advantageous to them to put 3 more people on that shift.

            Business isn't about the customer experience. It's about making money. It's the same reason Disney doesn't mind having lines with an hour wait. They know you want their product, and are willing to stand in line waiting for it.

        • Companies already have a perfectly valid method to measure their business. They have their receipts. They know when they sold items, what they sold, how much to stock, and how many people they need working there.

          Try running a business using only those metrics - but make a reservation at your local bankruptcy court first, because you're going to need it. Those metrics don't tell you what brought customers into the store, or why those that left without buying didn't buy, etc... (Just for some very basic exa

          • by JWSmythe (446288)

            Try running a business using only those metrics - but make a reservation at your local bankruptcy court first, because you're going to need it. Those metrics don't tell you what brought customers into the store, or why those that left without buying didn't buy, etc... (Just for some very basic examples.)

            Have you actually looked at FourSquare, or do you just live in a delusional world?

            Have a look for Starbucks [foursquare.com] in New York.

            The one with the most check-ins is "72 Spring St at Crosb

    • by wjousts (1529427)

      Some of us cheat it anyways.

      People will game any system if there is a way to do it. The question is what percentage of the data is junk? If it's a couple of percent, it's probably not a problem. If it's 50%, then it's probably useless.

      • by JWSmythe (446288)

        It would depend on how you view junk.

        In the right city? I'd say 25% is junk.

        In the actual location? I'd say >50% is junk.

        The people who I've know that use foursquare are frequently bored where they are, so they go looking around for other places to check in. So they pick an arbitrary location nearby that appears to be more interesting than where they really are.

        I just go one up on the junk rating, and check in, in the wrong sta

        • by wjousts (1529427)

          As I've told people, it's all disinformation, and usually located near cities that would drive the tinfoil hat crowd nuts.

          Really? You think anybody actually cares where you are? You need to get over yourself.

          • by JWSmythe (446288)

            I just replied to the AC that posted before you. Go up and read that. Maybe you'll understand. I would have said people were crazy for believing it. Once I worked with different aspects of the industry for a while, I realized how much is collected and sold. I really rather seed my true identity with so much disinformation that anyone trying to use it can't figure me out. Well, unless I live in Los Angeles, New York, Miami, ReykjavÃk, Berlin, and Moscow all at the same time. One

    • by Metrofax (2195214)
      "Some of us cheat it anyways. There's a workaround for checking in places that you aren't physically at. So I check in at arbitrary places, preferably at or very close to government facilities that makes the tinfoil hat crowd go nuts. So, following my "trail" shows me being anywhere but where I actually am." That's great, I love it!
  • This kind of thing is vulnerable to liars. You think anyone is going to check in at McDonald's? Or XXX-movie mart? What about the movies when the person is supposed to be at work?

    The whole thing is a sham that will promote businesses where people would want others to think they are, instead of businesses where people REALLY are.

    CHECKING IN AT THE WHOREHOUSE!

  • As a user I could see some real interesting uses for the data.
    It would be nice if you could see which clubs and restaurants are getting the most check ins. You would know the hot spots. Even better would be knowing when they are getting the check ins. Maybe you could see when that restaurant you want to try has the least check ins so you get the wait the least amount of time.
    Age data would be cool as well. If a place is loaded with people that are younger or older then you are you may want to avoid that as

    • by vlm (69642)

      It would be nice if you could see which clubs and restaurants are getting the most check ins. You would know the hot spots. .... That is where foursquare I think is falling down a bit. Discovery tools.

      You meant to write, foursquare is missing out on selling business owners on fake checkins to boost their popularity.

      So you find the "hottest new club" in the city on foursquare, go there, and theres no one there all night but two homeless alkies.

      • by LWATCDR (28044)

        That would be really easy to check and it would get around really fast. Yea it could be done and it already happens a lot on review sites.

  • Over the past 3 months I have seen a dramatic drop off of Foursquare use. I have about 60 friends that all use it and it has went from a furious competition to only about 4 that actually still use it. In fact I have not checked into anyplace for over a week. It's too much of a bother. Plus any rewards for using it are near invisible. Most of the time you check in AFTER you have ordered so you see the special you now cant use.

    They need a major revamping like cache all my places so I dont have to wait f

    • by wjousts (1529427)

      Most of the time you check in AFTER you have ordered so you see the special you now cant use.

      Is that kinda your fault? Not disagreeing with you, I've never used Foursquare myself and it might well be true that the novelty has worn off.

    • It is not dying, it just reached IPO time.

  • by Kamiza Ikioi (893310) on Tuesday May 24, 2011 @12:05PM (#36228948) Homepage

    I think the biggest question is economic class. Sure, this works for Starbucks because Starbucks is a higher end retailer who's users are tech savvy. But this does nothing for Family Dollar who's users are all over the gambit. This means, then, that you can only poll a certain section of the populous, whereas, using instore data makes more since for most businesses which captures 100% of data, rather than a subset (bothers to check in) or a subset (uses Foursquare) or a subset (owns a smartphone).

    The other problem is time is automatically skewed. People running to the store late night to pick up toilet paper are unlikely to check in, especially on a weekday. But those trying out a new steakhouse on a Saturday afternoon are more likely to check in. So the time data is naturally skewed to recreational times.

    While I applaud this as a way to see when advertising deals on social networks may best impact your business, this by no means will help you determine if you need to make sure your toilet paper is fully stocked at 3am.

    • Why do you assume they have not taken these problems/limitations into account?
      • For the same reason I don't assume there is a God. I'd rather see evidence of the existence of statistical methodology in place, vetted by other statisticians, before assuming that it exists and works.

        • If I were writing algorithms and implementing statistical methodologies that you mention, I wouldn't let anyone know about it..
    • Cross reference Facebook

      People running to the store late night to pick up toilet paper are unlikely to check in, especially on a weekday.

      That is exactly the inane garbage that people seem to post ad nauseum. Problem solved

    • The other problem is time is automatically skewed. People running to the [Family Dollar] store late night to pick up toilet paper are unlikely to check in, especially on a weekday. But those trying out a new steakhouse on a Saturday afternoon are more likely to check in. So the time data is naturally skewed to recreational times.

      Well, duh. Who do you think is more interested in the data? Family Dollar whose business model is based on moving product in bulk with rapid turnover? Or New Steakhouse who is in

      • On the other hand, my basic objection stands. How is this better than using in-store data? Even at best, it can't correlate foot traffic with actual purposes because foursquare doesn't collect purchase data except when a deal is used. And check-ins being so narrowly defined can't even estimate foot traffic.

        If 20 people check in to Foot Locker, what does that mean for actual foot traffic? How is that correlated with an ad campaign.

        Considering that as part of my job for a company that sells ad campaigns (o

  • can we all agree that we hate anyone that checks in at their house and/or workplace?

    i have two criteria for checkins - either restaurants/bars/clubs or unique stuff (landmarks and stuff) - anything else and i just don't see the use.
    • by wjousts (1529427)
      Ah, but if you don't check in at home, how do the burglars know that it's time to make a quick exit out the back window?
    • by maxume (22995)

      No. I don't hate them. I care approximately as much about those "check ins" as I do about all the rest of the "check ins".

      • by afex (693734)
        i've never understood this attitude....why do you have 4square if you don't care?!

        (and if you're seeing the crossposts on facebook, why have you not hidden all checkins yet? its 2-clicks away, not even in a menu...)
        • What is Facebook?

          Foursquare is worthless spam I could do without. Unfortunately the only option on Buzz is to completely block all Twitter posts from a user, which would essentially mean unfollowing three of my friends. It's an option I'm seriously considering, however.

        • by maxume (22995)

          I don't have Foursquare.

  • Not too much different than credit card data... except you don't always spend money when you check in somewhere with Foursquare. So it's like the spam of data harvesting... I bet the hit rate for usable information is really really weak.

    M

  • by DogDude (805747)
    Foursquare is a silly game. The number of people who use it are so trivial, that it really doesn't provide any useful data. On top of that, only the most techie geek people use it. Most people do not walk around with pants computers out when they're walking into restaurants/retail establishments.
    • by afex (693734)
      i've actually been shocked by how many users there are. even where i live (MKE, WI) i went out a few nights ago and there were 15 people checked in at a restaurant that holds maybe 50 people max. i'll agree with you that its still not even close to a fraction of a percent of the general populous, but its not like i'm in the bay area or NY - this is the frickin midwest for gods sake!
    • I consider myself one of the "techie" people and I don't use it. And none of my colleagues use it (nor have used it). Foursquare was a "fad" by all measures, and not a very successful one at that. My friends already know where I am, and so do the stores / establishments I frequent via receipts. The information is mostly redundant self-centered ego boost.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    printed paid content - and /. falls for it.

  • Given how inaccurate I've found FourSquare to be (I can be standing 6 feet from a store, and it can't find it... and when I search by name, I find oodles of variations of the name because people can't spell. Maybe it's Tonys, maybe it's Tony's, maybe it's Tony's Pizza, maybe it's Tony's Pizzeria, maybe it's Tonys Pizza Place, etc...) I don't see how the data collected could ever be very useful...

FORTUNE'S FUN FACTS TO KNOW AND TELL: #44 Zebras are colored with dark stripes on a light background.

Working...