Foursquare isn’t important. The behavior is.

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Most of the time, when I talk to entrepreneurs about what can and can’t be done, they see the potential limitation as a function of the technology. Well, I’m here to tell you that technology isn’t the issue. Just about anything short of time travel (which Google is currently working on) can be done. Technology is not the limiting factor. User behavior is.

I have at least three conversations a week about Foursquare. Most think it won’t do this or won’t do that. Well, I’m here to tell you two things:

  1. It doesn’t matter what you think about Fourquare and it’s future, unless your in your teens, mid 20s or a young soul. You aren’t shaping the latest features of  the mobile social landscape.
  2. Foursquare is secondary to the behavior. The act of checking in is becoming a habit. (Pavlov RULES!) That’s what’s important. Right now according to Mashable’s Leah Betancourt, 7% of mobile computer users are aware of location based services. The old guard would say, “I’m not paying attention to that until it hits 20%.”. By the time that number hits 20% you won’t be able to release your product until that number is 30%; overload quickly to follow. Things move very very quickly! The new marker should be 5% . But go ahead and hold-off. By all means, take your time! Also, that 7% are the kind of customers you want. Connected, up-to-date and making real money.

So put your concerns about Foursquare as a business model aside. Forget the fact that someone will buy them for a sum of money that would make most investment bankers jump for joy. Ignore the fact that they’ve signed deals with Zagat, Conde Nast and The New York Times. Don’t think about Foursquare hitting 1 million users this past April after only being in business for a year. Forget that Foursquare surpassed 1 million check-ins a week several months ago. Remember. It’s all about behavior.

1 comment

  • In all my communication about foursquare the topic of ‘habit forming’ nature is well on the light side.

    As an avid 4sq user I have to admit that it is in fact 4sq that is shaping this behavior. 4sq is not secondary to behavior… it is triggering it (It is the bell ringing) SO I both agree… and disagree with #2. Although it may not be controlling it entirely, it is shaping it none the less.

    Solid post.

I am an Associate Professor of Digital Marketing at the Daniels College of Business, University of Denver. I also consult with startups and established brands. I'm currently focused on artificial intelligence, cognitive neuroscience and culture. I am married to an amazing woman and have two incredible children. I was raised in Colorado and spend my free time with family, biking, snowboarding and going to the Pacific Ocean to SCUBA dive and/or surf. I'm passionate about architecture, design, street art, photography and the art that tattooing has evolved into.

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