I Quit Foursquare a Month Ago. Here’s how my audience has benefitted

Have you joined my incredibly non-annoying, once-in-a-while email newsletter?

63 airports in four months! 18 espresso bars! 14 casinos! #1 on the leaderboard for airport lounges! That used to be me. The second I’d wake up and turn on my phone, I’d check in on Foursquare, the geolocation/gamification/marketing/boasting tool that rose to prominence in the past few years.

Want to know where I was, where I was going, when I landed, or when I went somewhere else? Well, you could just follow me on Foursquare. I was vigilant about checking in, sometimes choosing a specific place to eat or drink based on whether or not I could get the “mayorship” there. It was a lot of fun for a while.

But then things started to change.

Foursquare stopped being fun, and started being a chore. Even worse, it stopped being useful. In the end, if something isn’t useful but it’s fun, you do it. If something isn’t fun, but it’s useful, you do it. If something isn’t fun and isn’t useful, it becomes a chore.

And everyone hates chores.

So I deleted it from my Galaxy S5, and here’s what happened.

The first day was a bit awkward, no doubt. My initial reaction upon going anywhere was to check in. Within six hours, I realized that there was no reason to do it. Let’s face it – Checking in at the local market where I always get my lunch was more habit than anything else. Same for the bank, the subway station, and the gym.

Ah, the gym. That brings up the concept of the “ego check-ins.” Just like anyone else, I’m ego-driven to a point. Long run? Documented. Boxing class? Documented. Cross the finish line of a race? Documented. And giving up Foursquare taught me something:

The best way to document something of value is by creating content around it. A simple “check-in” isn’t content. (Tweet this!)

You know what content is? This:

Or this:

Essentially, Foursquare, (to me) has become the poor man’s way to generate content, the lazy way of interacting with those I wasn’t with at the time. And that really started to bother me.

Other things started wearing on me, too, like Foursquare’s infuriating lack of continuity. Gate 134A is not the same thing as Gate 134a or Gate 134-A. I’ve flown UA-9 from EWR to NRT 25 times in my life. But when there are SEVENTEEN UA-9’s to check in to, because Foursquare can’t scale their content growth, what’s the damn point?

Additionally, my habits were never more freely available for people to market to me things I actually wanted, but Foursquare could never seem to get it off the ground. You know how many times I was actually marketed to via Foursquare in all the years I used it? Once. Hell, Klout has given me better brand introductions than Foursquare has. KLOUT! That’s like saying that my cat turned out to be a better driver than Mario Andretti. But it’s true. Foursquare could have done SO much with the data they had on me, and I would have been fine with it, because it would have been perfect for me. Instead, I got to “load my Amex card” for automatic discounts. I tried that a few times. It never worked. Huge missed opportunity, and totally diminished the value of Foursquare to me.

Finally, as a runner, what put me over the edge and finally caused me to say goodbye to Foursquare was their CEO “banditing” the Boston Marathon, and then his subsequent non-apology for it. Sorry, but that was the final straw, and all I needed to delete Foursquare and lose the “check-in” stranglehold.

So what’s happened since? Well, like I said, I don’t miss it. If the purpose of check-ins is to share with my audience, then Foursquare was actually holding me back from doing that. Without Foursquare, I’m focusing on WHAT I want to share, instead of just “checking-in.” What does my audience want to know? Want to see? Want to learn? Not just that I’m at a restaurant.

I’m creating much better content! I’m taking better photos. I’m sending out smarter tweets. When I want to invite anyone at EWR to be my guest in the lounge for the next hour, I simply tweet it and invite whoever gets it, which is what I would have done on Foursquare anyway, but now it’s personal. I don’t worry about checking into the “wrong” place, or accidentally being checked-in by someone else when I don’t want to be. Life has become just a touch simpler.

Now I’m really focusing on what I want my content to be, to signify that I was somewhere. I’m even taking my Canon 5D3 out with me more, now that I have an Eye-Fi card, and can transfer photos from the camera right to the phone. How else do I get images that look like this?

I really thought I’d miss Foursquare. I really didn’t think I could live without it. Turns out, what I really can’t live without is sharing. Now I get to do it a thousand times better, and my audience benefits that much more, because I’m putting much more thinking into what I share.

I say this every day: Having an audience is a privilege, not a right, just like wearing spandex. (Click to tweet this line!) As such, you have the responsibility to share well – To share worthwhile content. Not just to say “I’m here.” Giving your audience you have what they want, guarantees you’ll get the bigger audience you eventually want to get.

What do you think? Love Foursquare? Couldn’t care less? Tell me in the comments, and as always, thanks for reading.

  • You missed their new Swarm app, it gets even worse. You don’t need/have to, but your rant would’ve been more interesting and entertaining. Just keep tweeting!

  • You missed their new Swarm app, it gets even worse. You don’t need/have to, but your rant would’ve been more interesting and entertaining. Just keep tweeting!

  • You missed their new Swarm app, it gets even worse. You don’t need/have to, but your rant would’ve been more interesting and entertaining. Just keep tweeting!

  • You missed their new Swarm app, it gets even worse. You don’t need/have to, but your rant would’ve been more interesting and entertaining. Just keep tweeting!

  • I deleted the app right after the marathon issue (and it wasn’t a bandit entry, to be clear–it was stealing someone else’s bib number to wrongly get a finisher’s medal). I haven’t missed it one whit. It solved problems I do not have.

  • Never figured out why anyone is on Foursquare. No need to let others know where I am. If I do I will check in on Facebook.

  • Never figured out why anyone is on Foursquare. No need to let others know where I am. If I do I will check in on Facebook.

  • Never figured out why anyone is on Foursquare. No need to let others know where I am. If I do I will check in on Facebook.

  • Never figured out why anyone is on Foursquare. No need to let others know where I am. If I do I will check in on Facebook.

  • Linda

    Amen, Peter. I deleted Foursquare about 6 weeks ago. I went through some withdrawal, but then I read about the CEO’s wife bandit-ing the Boston Marathon. (I live in Massachusetts so that hit close to home.) Reading their non-apology got me over the hump. So long, 4sq.

  • Linda

    Amen, Peter. I deleted Foursquare about 6 weeks ago. I went through some withdrawal, but then I read about the CEO’s wife bandit-ing the Boston Marathon. (I live in Massachusetts so that hit close to home.) Reading their non-apology got me over the hump. So long, 4sq.

  • Linda

    Amen, Peter. I deleted Foursquare about 6 weeks ago. I went through some withdrawal, but then I read about the CEO’s wife bandit-ing the Boston Marathon. (I live in Massachusetts so that hit close to home.) Reading their non-apology got me over the hump. So long, 4sq.

  • Linda

    Amen, Peter. I deleted Foursquare about 6 weeks ago. I went through some withdrawal, but then I read about the CEO’s wife bandit-ing the Boston Marathon. (I live in Massachusetts so that hit close to home.) Reading their non-apology got me over the hump. So long, 4sq.

  • I 4Sq check-in but *rarely* Tweet/FB it. To be honest, I use it as a diary system for myself so that when I travel I have notes of places I’ve been and how I liked it. It also reminds me when I’m physically close to places I’ve been before so I don’t have to hunt around in an unfamiliar city for places to eat.

    • John Michael Cassetta

      Same here. What I keep trying to use 4sq for is a “to do list” of places in the city (I live in NYC). I read about new bars, restaurants, etc constantly. It’s nice to walk up out of the subway and check out what I’ve been meaning to try in the area.

      That said, fourquare hardly makes that their primary feature (you’re certainly not incentivized to make those lists). The whole check-in thing turns me off to the point that I avoid it even if I do like other parts of the app’s functionality (I use citymaps or matchbook sometimes instead, fwiw).

    • John Michael Cassetta

      Same here. What I keep trying to use 4sq for is a “to do list” of places in the city (I live in NYC). I read about new bars, restaurants, etc constantly. It’s nice to walk up out of the subway and check out what I’ve been meaning to try in the area.

      That said, fourquare hardly makes that their primary feature (you’re certainly not incentivized to make those lists). The whole check-in thing turns me off to the point that I avoid it even if I do like other parts of the app’s functionality (I use citymaps or matchbook sometimes instead, fwiw).

    • John Michael Cassetta

      Same here. What I keep trying to use 4sq for is a “to do list” of places in the city (I live in NYC). I read about new bars, restaurants, etc constantly. It’s nice to walk up out of the subway and check out what I’ve been meaning to try in the area.

      That said, fourquare hardly makes that their primary feature (you’re certainly not incentivized to make those lists). The whole check-in thing turns me off to the point that I avoid it even if I do like other parts of the app’s functionality (I use citymaps or matchbook sometimes instead, fwiw).

    • John Michael Cassetta

      Same here. What I keep trying to use 4sq for is a “to do list” of places in the city (I live in NYC). I read about new bars, restaurants, etc constantly. It’s nice to walk up out of the subway and check out what I’ve been meaning to try in the area.

      That said, fourquare hardly makes that their primary feature (you’re certainly not incentivized to make those lists). The whole check-in thing turns me off to the point that I avoid it even if I do like other parts of the app’s functionality (I use citymaps or matchbook sometimes instead, fwiw).

  • Laurie Lam’x

    I completely agree with this post. I also deleted the 4Sq app from my phone a few months ago. I was obsessive about checking in, but virtual badges only held my attention for about a year. I kept wondering when someone would actually USE my information; when they would offer me deals or SOMEthing! ONE business in the SEA airport gave away a small swag, which was great, but other than that… (sound of crickets chirping….).

  • Laurie Lam’x

    I completely agree with this post. I also deleted the 4Sq app from my phone a few months ago. I was obsessive about checking in, but virtual badges only held my attention for about a year. I kept wondering when someone would actually USE my information; when they would offer me deals or SOMEthing! ONE business in the SEA airport gave away a small swag, which was great, but other than that… (sound of crickets chirping….).

  • Laurie Lam’x

    I completely agree with this post. I also deleted the 4Sq app from my phone a few months ago. I was obsessive about checking in, but virtual badges only held my attention for about a year. I kept wondering when someone would actually USE my information; when they would offer me deals or SOMEthing! ONE business in the SEA airport gave away a small swag, which was great, but other than that… (sound of crickets chirping….).

  • Laurie Lam’x

    I completely agree with this post. I also deleted the 4Sq app from my phone a few months ago. I was obsessive about checking in, but virtual badges only held my attention for about a year. I kept wondering when someone would actually USE my information; when they would offer me deals or SOMEthing! ONE business in the SEA airport gave away a small swag, which was great, but other than that… (sound of crickets chirping….).

  • You are a heinous at getting people all worked up ann taking a stand on something that truly doesn’t matter. People who don’t use an app telling others why that superior.

    You are going to wind up as the Edward Bernays of this Century.

    • shankman

      What is a “heinous?” And re: Bernays… He was the nephew of Freud, was he not? I’m not sure how I feel about that comparison. 🙂

      I don’t think anyone is “worked up,” per se, I just think that (based on the comments both here and on the social channels on which this post has appeared,) some people are in agreement with my line of thinking, and some still see benefit in the service.

      Hope you’re well, Warren!

      • I can type faster than I can think. GENIUS. Sorry that my fat thumbs screwed up that one important word.

        I meant to give you a high compliment. Reading your post, I emotionally wanted to delete the app right then and there and did decide to change some of the mind numbing habits I’ve developed. It’s not a binary right/wrong question. The fact that the comments are on your side is a testament to your presentation. Your message to do better content was creative and TRUE.

        I prefer to think of Freud as Bernays’s Uncle who was broke and asked Edward for a loan. Bernays said “How about we just make you famous instead?”

        Bernays wrote a book called Propaganda that fell out of favor when the Nazi’s started using it. So now we say “Public Relations” (a term coined by Bernays) He also sold bacon, tobacco and helped the United Fruit Growers overthrow a democratically elected president.

        He invented cross media promotion, article placement, and such effective campaigns that people loved buying. His techniques were new. That’s the genius I compared to you.

        In short, Bernays was both a genius and a dirtbag. I’m not your judge, but from what I see, you do a much better (moral) job at picking what you promote. You are using the tools and creating more to do good. (genius, not dirtbag in my humble opinion)

        The compliment was for your genius to finding out what people want, and seeing that they get it.

        Please don’t ever use your gifts for evil.

  • You are a heinous at getting people all worked up ann taking a stand on something that truly doesn’t matter. People who don’t use an app telling others why that superior.

    You are going to wind up as the Edward Bernays of this Century.

  • You are a heinous at getting people all worked up ann taking a stand on something that truly doesn’t matter. People who don’t use an app telling others why that superior.

    You are going to wind up as the Edward Bernays of this Century.

  • You are a heinous at getting people all worked up ann taking a stand on something that truly doesn’t matter. People who don’t use an app telling others why that superior.

    You are going to wind up as the Edward Bernays of this Century.

  • I agree that if you are only using Foursquare you are truly missing
    the content boat. I use different social media tools for different
    situations. Foursquare is my go-to app when I am promoting others,
    particularly restaurants, businesses, and public space. It does post to my personal Facebook page which allows me to quickly and effortlessly integrate work into my personal.
    I decided early on that when FB started with “check-ins” that I wasn’t
    going to put all my eggs into the FB basket. Foursquare, used properly
    and with restraint, helps me categorize my social media efforts. ~JW

  • marcy massura

    I am overly proud to say I never joined Foursquare.

  • scottcaldwell

    Ugh. I’m so incredibly conflicted about Foursquare (and now Swarm). I admit, the gamification hooked me early on. Points, leaderboard, mayorships, etc. were great. And there has still been a strong hold-over from that in the form of badge levels for me. I was always the collector/completionist video game player, so deciding where to eat in order to push my Bento badge up a level has totally happened.

    But the thing that ultimately won me over, and has kept me an obsessive user, is the diary/logging benefits, as LynetteRadio pointed out. The first time an inquiry from my parents over dinner as to “how I spent my weekend” was answered by scrolling through Foursquare–I was hooked. That and being able to remember more specific details from vacations, like the name of “that great little cafe with the patio from the 3rd day” that normally would have been lost to the shortcomings of memory.

    But you’re right, the crowd-sourced location editing has never kept pace with the volume of users, and this new decision to spin off Swarm is baffling to me. They’ve killed badges, radically changed the social sharing functionality, inexplicably added stickers, and now I have to switch between the apps depending on what functionality I need. It makes no sense to me from a strategic standpoint.

    I’m still using it because I REALLY love the fact that I can look back on where I was over four years ago with pinpoint accuracy, but they’re dangerously close to losing me.

  • scottcaldwell

    Ugh. I’m so incredibly conflicted about Foursquare (and now Swarm). I admit, the gamification hooked me early on. Points, leaderboard, mayorships, etc. were great. And there has still been a strong hold-over from that in the form of badge levels for me. I was always the collector/completionist video game player, so deciding where to eat in order to push my Bento badge up a level has totally happened.

    But the thing that ultimately won me over, and has kept me an obsessive user, is the diary/logging benefits, as LynetteRadio pointed out. The first time an inquiry from my parents over dinner as to “how I spent my weekend” was answered by scrolling through Foursquare–I was hooked. That and being able to remember more specific details from vacations, like the name of “that great little cafe with the patio from the 3rd day” that normally would have been lost to the shortcomings of memory.

    But you’re right, the crowd-sourced location editing has never kept pace with the volume of users, and this new decision to spin off Swarm is baffling to me. They’ve killed badges, radically changed the social sharing functionality, inexplicably added stickers, and now I have to switch between the apps depending on what functionality I need. It makes no sense to me from a strategic standpoint.

    I’m still using it because I REALLY love the fact that I can look back on where I was over four years ago with pinpoint accuracy, but they’re dangerously close to losing me.

  • scottcaldwell

    Ugh. I’m so incredibly conflicted about Foursquare (and now Swarm). I admit, the gamification hooked me early on. Points, leaderboard, mayorships, etc. were great. And there has still been a strong hold-over from that in the form of badge levels for me. I was always the collector/completionist video game player, so deciding where to eat in order to push my Bento badge up a level has totally happened.

    But the thing that ultimately won me over, and has kept me an obsessive user, is the diary/logging benefits, as LynetteRadio pointed out. The first time an inquiry from my parents over dinner as to “how I spent my weekend” was answered by scrolling through Foursquare–I was hooked. That and being able to remember more specific details from vacations, like the name of “that great little cafe with the patio from the 3rd day” that normally would have been lost to the shortcomings of memory.

    But you’re right, the crowd-sourced location editing has never kept pace with the volume of users, and this new decision to spin off Swarm is baffling to me. They’ve killed badges, radically changed the social sharing functionality, inexplicably added stickers, and now I have to switch between the apps depending on what functionality I need. It makes no sense to me from a strategic standpoint.

    I’m still using it because I REALLY love the fact that I can look back on where I was over four years ago with pinpoint accuracy, but they’re dangerously close to losing me.

  • scottcaldwell

    Ugh. I’m so incredibly conflicted about Foursquare (and now Swarm). I admit, the gamification hooked me early on. Points, leaderboard, mayorships, etc. were great. And there has still been a strong hold-over from that in the form of badge levels for me. I was always the collector/completionist video game player, so deciding where to eat in order to push my Bento badge up a level has totally happened.

    But the thing that ultimately won me over, and has kept me an obsessive user, is the diary/logging benefits, as LynetteRadio pointed out. The first time an inquiry from my parents over dinner as to “how I spent my weekend” was answered by scrolling through Foursquare–I was hooked. That and being able to remember more specific details from vacations, like the name of “that great little cafe with the patio from the 3rd day” that normally would have been lost to the shortcomings of memory.

    But you’re right, the crowd-sourced location editing has never kept pace with the volume of users, and this new decision to spin off Swarm is baffling to me. They’ve killed badges, radically changed the social sharing functionality, inexplicably added stickers, and now I have to switch between the apps depending on what functionality I need. It makes no sense to me from a strategic standpoint.

    I’m still using it because I REALLY love the fact that I can look back on where I was over four years ago with pinpoint accuracy, but they’re dangerously close to losing me.

  • I’m still going to tell people to stop getting in your way at Penn Station.

    https://foursquare.com/item/4e1e407be4cd0a3823012b61

    https://foursquare.com/item/4f11cb52e4b0f2c211c177da

  • I’m still going to tell people to stop getting in your way at Penn Station.

    https://foursquare.com/item/4e1e407be4cd0a3823012b61

    https://foursquare.com/item/4f11cb52e4b0f2c211c177da

  • I’m still going to tell people to stop getting in your way at Penn Station.

    https://foursquare.com/item/4e1e407be4cd0a3823012b61

    https://foursquare.com/item/4f11cb52e4b0f2c211c177da

  • I’m still going to tell people to stop getting in your way at Penn Station.

    https://foursquare.com/item/4e1e407be4cd0a3823012b61

    https://foursquare.com/item/4f11cb52e4b0f2c211c177da

  • I never joined Foursquare – or any “check-in” app for that matter. I’m ALREADY an over-sharer and just could not get over the hurdle of “who cares” where I am at this exact moment. Also, I feel like it takes away from the moment a bit. That being said, I’m still guilty of using other social channels – Twitter, FB, IG – to share where I am and what I’m doing …. so … yeah. Ha!

  • Adam Berlin

    Dude…thanks for the “backlink” on the Eye-Fi card. I didn’t know those were in existence. PS-Why won’t Disques allow me to put my head on straight?

  • Adam Berlin

    Dude…thanks for the “backlink” on the Eye-Fi card. I didn’t know those were in existence. PS-Why won’t Disques allow me to put my head on straight?

  • Adam Berlin

    Dude…thanks for the “backlink” on the Eye-Fi card. I didn’t know those were in existence. PS-Why won’t Disques allow me to put my head on straight?

  • Adam Berlin

    Dude…thanks for the “backlink” on the Eye-Fi card. I didn’t know those were in existence. PS-Why won’t Disques allow me to put my head on straight?

  • dwaynekilbourne

    I appreciate your candor and honesty. As someone who has amassed over 32,250 check-ins (and counting) just on my personal profile and a few more via the 4sqLoveStory profile (wherein check-ins there only happen when Elaine and I are both at the same place), I hold some frustrations with foursquare. Like you, I feel they could have brought more to the table when it came to advertising. Also, I am not thrilled that they decided to split their app in 2 (and electing to discontinue badges yet introduce stickers SMH). Still, I will use foursquare for as long as it is around. Sure, I am biased, but I love the app and the community. What does its future hold? We shall see. I certainly do agree that checking in to create content is not good enough. Hence, I revert to words and images (and videos) when needed and where applicable. I certainly do not tweeting or post (to Facebook) every check-in, but the app is helpful and exciting for me, even if the excitement within the user (and superuser) community seems to have fallen off this past year.

  • Tracy Wilson LMP ART

    Foursq.. ahhhhh! How did I miss that story about Dennis and Chelsa Crowley?! Now I’m all outraged and irritated. Grrrrrrr.

  • Tracy Wilson LMP ART

    Foursq.. ahhhhh! How did I miss that story about Dennis and Chelsa Crowley?! Now I’m all outraged and irritated. Grrrrrrr.

  • I stopped using it for those same reasons. You are making some good points, as usual.

  • I stopped using it for those same reasons. You are making some good points, as usual.

  • I stopped using it for those same reasons. You are making some good points, as usual.

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