Visualize How Foursquare Helps Local Business Discovery

To this day I’m surprised at how local and when I say local I really mean Canada have yet to grasp the utility of Foursquare for their brick and mortar businesses. Whenever I’ve spoken to clients about Foursquare the main two reactions are total ignorance or total wonder with both saying “how can this help me and why should I use this?”

I’m not going to start going into a full explanation the how, I’m too awful a writer/blogger to literally do this and there are tons of resources online now to help clients setup their accounts and what are the benefits.

I wanted to share this video that Foursquare just published that visually demonstrates what happened when the La Colombe coffee shop opened in NYC’s East Village.

“Each node in this network is a person, and each link represents friendship on foursquare. The size of each node is proportional to how many friends they have, and the placement of each node is determined by a machine learning algorithm called Structure Preserving Embedding. As people check in to La Colombe, they will turn from grey to blue, and their friends on the network will light up. As more people check in we can see how this new place opening spreads across the social graph.”

The main point that comes across for me is how the nodes (person) are all tied together. The way I understand this visualization is  that the Foursquare check-ins are doing the job of spreading the word and influencing friends to visit and discover the new coffee shop in the hood.

2 thoughts on “Visualize How Foursquare Helps Local Business Discovery

  1. I’m convinced discovery happens as a result of Foursquare and would love to see real numbers that prove this. I’m not sure about the conclusion from this video though. There is certainly a correlation but not necessarily a causation or at least not a strong indication of causation. If a coffee shop in my neighbourhood opens up, I’m likely to check-in to it and so are my friends who live nearby.

    I often check in at a favourite restaurant of mine, the Cheshire Cat, and I would be surprised if that didn’t eventually convince someone in my network to go. I asked one of the owners “I’m mayor of the Cheshire cat! What do I get?”. They looked at me like I had a third eye. Shouldn’t I get preferred seating? A discount? A special deal for people I refer? Nope, nothing. Lost opportunity.

    What if my checkin came with link and a discount for my followers? What if the more I check in, the greater the discount becomes and you get a serious perk when you’re mayor like getting the next available table when you show up without a reservation (which I do often).

    Conclusion? I’m not yet convinced if checking has a huge impact on discovery, however it could if business owners leveraged it properly. They could use the checkin as a way to find loyal customers and get them to become their champions … first because the love the business and second, because they and their friends benefit.

    Am I crazy?

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