In quite a nice move by Foursquare, the company is now including popular events on the website, as discussed on their blog. I like this step – it’s a clever move and actually quite a challenging one for them.
Managing events like this has always been difficult and no one has really got it right. The issue when managing data on that scale is it that is a big job with many facets – date, location, type of event. Date is easy to do. Location is tougher but if you are talking about doing it on a national scale then with the right technical setup it can be simple (given the scope of the project) – just a matter of buying the venue data and feeding it into your system.
Events are tougher. No one really does it – largely because there’s no money in it and you have to expend resources gathering data from multiple sources. Even at a town level this can be tricky – how many cinemas, theatres, sports stadia, pubs, clubs or whatever are there and how many different types of events may they hold in the next 12 months? The numbers quickly spiral out of control. Foursquare are managing this situation by partnering with vertical information providers (ESPN, SongKick, MovieTickets.com) – a sensible approach (in the UK it used to be the case that you’d need to go to each individual cinema and pay them to be provided with movie times data – not certain, but I think the print media still do that…).
Events are a natural evolution of Foursquare and I’m sure many of their users will embrace the new features as they have with the rest of the site’s bells and whistles. But more than that, the company is displaying a characteristic almost unheard of in the social media / dotcom start up world…flirting with a business model that might actually be viable from the start!
Events are great. I like doing stuff. You like doing stuff. We like doing stuff. I occasionally like organising stuff. Having a cost effective local tool to promote my stuff is nice. Real nice.
It’s almost like near virtual classifieds prospect – a few quid (or bucks if you’re across the pond) to promote your gig / fundraising activity / play / demonstration / brand launch / etc. Quite well targeted events for a reasonably price? That would be pretty cool and probably a good, sustainable revenue stream for the company.
Foursquare are limiting events to those provided by their partners right now, but plan to include user generated events at some point in the future. Whether or not they are paid or free is unknown.
I read some survey results this week that noted only 5% of the respondents (UK small business owners) knew what Foursquare is. It’s one to watch, that’s what it is and has the potential to be a more potent social marketing tool for businesses in certain verticals than Twitter or Facebook.
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