Is location-based monitoring the next wave in increasing social capital?

Is location-based monitoring via mobile devices really the next big thing? One could argue that the concept has already proven its appeal with 12,000 new users being added to the relatively novel tool Foursquare, everyday. With a straight forward and comprehensive proposed offering, Foursquare, the place where social meets mobile, meets location, is building on people’s need to be connected constantly.  With elements such as mayorships (Starbucks addict? You may just become mayor of your favourite location by checking into the same location multiple times), and badges (the habit-based tag that aggregates your like-minded actions), the tool is fast becoming a connector of brands to consumers, leaving Foursquare to act as the facilitator of this relationship.

Along the lines of brand sponsorship, it’s clear that highly recognized companies are noticing the value of Foursquare’s offering along with the mass appeal it’s generating. Where’s the evidence of this? Well, there’s the recent partnership of Starbucks, which offers mayors of all the premium coffee shop locations across the country $1 off a Frappuccino every time they check in.  And there’s the “add to foursquare” button newly launched with “The Wall Street Journal,” which permits foursquare users to add venues mentioned in WSJ cultural coverage to their foursquare “to do” lists, simply and succinctly. Spokesperson for Foursquare, Erin Gleason says the company hopes to roll this feature out for other sites and brands soon. 

What about the advent of social network powerhouses Facebook and Twitter set to enable the sharing of locations at any time with friends and followers? Facebook is purportedly gunning to introduce this piece to their back end, and Twitter is supposedly up and running in the future addition of this capability as well.  However, Gleason says that the company isn’t concerned with the competition right now but more focused on creating a product that scales and that’s able to sustain an incredible arc of growth. Afterall, says Gleason, “With check-ins per day averaging the 1 million mark, as a company, we’ve reached maybe 10% of where we want to be.” Cleary, there’s no slowing down for the fast-minds behind Foursquare.  In fact, Chris Fyvie of Collier’s International asked Gleason when Foursquare is planning on setting up shop in Toronto.  Gleason reported that there is an infrastructure, plans and strategy in place to support the rapid development of the company, and Canadian audiences play a role in this story.

It’s clear that the appeal of Foursquare is crossing generations, verticals and international markets. Take the fact that businesses from Kate Spade New York to Whole Foods, are offering promotions via the fast-growing tool, touching regions from Europe to Asia to South America. Perhaps, the adage that “location, location, location” is what matters most is now evolved into something more relevant in the digital realm, pointing to the reality that social, mobile and location, in tandem, are changing the game.