Twitter and Facebook are at their peak right now and show no signs of stopping or declining in popularity, but everyone should be looking out for FourSquare as then next big thing in social networking. FourSquare is a site that ‘aims to encourage people to explore their neighborhoods and then reward people for doing so. [They] do this by combining a friend-finder and social city guide elements with game mechanics – users earn points, win mayorships (meaning you have been to the location more than anyone else) and unlock badges for trying new places and revisiting old favorites.’ Examples of rewards for going to these places are free drinks and free appetizers depending on the site you have visited. It is not yet as comprehensive as Facebook and Twitter are for business but it is growing in popularity in the restaurant/bar market. And, lets not forget that neither Facebook nor Twitter originally set out to be marketing tools for businesses. Reasons why we believe that FourSquare has potential has a lot to do with the type of following it has already created for itself. It has found the same niche that Twitter found among young adults three years ago and is being used by a similar crowd. Both sites were introduced at the South By Southwest Music Festival, Twitter in 2007 and FourSquare in 2009. Already many top restaurants and chains across the country are using FourSquare to attract users to come for specials and rack up points to receive perks and the site has already created a business platform that is open to any brand as long as it can meet the requirements for providing some sort of reward for active users. There is a challenge though that FourSquare faces as there are already sites competing for the victory in location-based services market. Competitors like Gowalla, Loopt, Brightkint and Google’s Latitude all had a head start in launching their sites but we foresee the gaming approach that FourSquare takes to be addictive and entertaining making it the best choice among all of these options. The only thing stopping FourSquare is Twitter. Twitter and FourSquare at the moment have a lot of similarities and Twitter is already expanding its location-based services. One thing on FourSquare’s side is that it has overlapping investors with Twitter, which could mean a potential merger of services.
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