Cliff Peskin
Nov 27, 2009

Last year it was Twitter. This year its…

Foursquare (maybe).

Foursquare is this year’s sensational social media application. It can be accessed via its website, on the iPhone, Android or Blackberry device. The service works by encouraging users to “Check-in” at physical locations. For instance, every time you stop at a coffee shop or bar you have the option to “Check-in” your location.

Foursquare is addictive as its structured like a game: Each time you “Check-in” to a location you are awarded points which lead to badges – badges have names like “Newbie”, “Adventurer” and “Superstar”. Better than a badge however is “mayorship“. To be crowned “mayor” of a location you must “Check-in” to the venue more than anyone else, on separate days and have a profile picture. In other words you can become the the mayor of your neighborhood Starbucks – cool.

Until you actually begin using the service its kind of like Twitter in that you probably won’t “get it” . But, its gaining lots of steam and its potential for real estate metrics is worthwhile discussing. Both real estate investors and retailers rely on human traffic metrics. The current tools used to formulate these metrics are often inefficient and outdated: A person will stand on a busy intersection and count the number of people walking by to determine if its a good location for a Mcdonald’s. Foursquare has the potential to add some web 2.0 zing to these human traffic metrics.

Foursquare receives millions of data points on the physical location of of individuals daily. This is a notable departure from social media services like Facebook and Twitter which track data on user’s likes, interests and discussion – Foursquare is mapping physical location.

With access to Foursquare metrics, a commercial real estate investor could study trends in a particular downtown neighborhood. The investor could determine that a particular intersection has the busiest coffee shops and restaurants in town and that may sway his decision to purchase a nearby plot of land zoned for residential development.

It seems likely that the location based analytics that Foursquare is generating will have far reaching real estate applications. Currently, what these may be exactly are speculative. In the meantime its a fun application to learn about one’s city, take note of where you are, and become the mayor.

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