So, how long will being a Foursquare Mayor matter now that the 6-million strong Location Based Service is moving toward segmentation?
In fact, is there any real “grown up” reason to being the “Mayor” of Joe’s Coffee shop?
Is there any “grown up” reason to being a Foursquare Mayor of anything?
It’s a bit like collecting marbles or baseball cards. It gives the collector a certain ego boost and bragging rights…on the playground.
But we stopped collecting marbles and Boy Scour badges oh, around, fourteen, I guess. Probably when we first noticed girls.
Unless being the mayor matters in the sense of getting something for the loyalty and persistent “check ins,” like a free latte at Starbucks or maybe a new tool from Home Depot, who cares?
But purists say rewarding a mayor would ruin the “Mayoral Experience” because instead of just (?) being a loyal customer, beloved by the staff who appreciate you, the mayor becomes the guy (or gal) seeking a free coffee or some other perk, and that apparently sullies the experience and the joy of being the mayor.
But Eric Leist, a noted Foursquare watcher and commentator says in his blog that unlike Yelp, which lumps all users into an undifferentiated crowd, Foursquare is now following in the footsteps of Whrrl, and is in the user segmentation business.
Which may spell the end of mayors.
Used to be one could get an, “Overshare Badge” by checking in 10 times in 24 hours.
Or earn the “Superuser Badge” by checking in 30 days straight. Or how about the “Superstar Badge” by checking into 50 different venues?
All this leads to “check in fatigue,” and Mayoral Inflation.
With so many Mayorships, does any of them matter?
But it’s about to get worse.
Leist notes that Foursquare’s segmentation process will stress badges “that reflect users’ lifestyles more than their specific Foursquare use”.
So it’s possible to win the “7-10 Split Badge” by checking into bowling alleys, rewarding the love of bowling more than the multiple visits to the Acme Bowling Alley itself.
Or how about the “Fixer Up Badge” earned by checking into hardware stores 3 times. Or the “Fresh Brew Badge” by checking into random coffee shops some 30 times.
You’d think merchants would be the losers because by segmenting the audience, there’s a dispersion of customers to competitive coffee shops.
But retail vendors like Vons ( part of Safeway), are delighted because now they can allow customers to link “their Foursquare accounts to their loyalty cards.
Earned the “Gym Rat Badge” by checking into a gym ten times in 30 days? Vons will give you some sort of athletic gift like a power drink or something.
Which brings us back to the Foursquare Mayor.
How can anyone really be the mayor of so many multiplying, lifestyle-driven segments?
There is no mayoral recall in Foursquare, but we suspect that there will be mayoral redundancy.
For more, check out Leist’s ten minute video talk at the recent Social Networking breakfast in New Hampshire: You Tube.