Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Foursquare risks alienating users with Swarm

This last week Foursquare forced all users to download Swarm, a new app where it has shifted its check-in feature [Foursquare blog]. But this, along with a few other changes, risks alienating its user base and killing the service altogether.

Launched in 2009 Foursquare was a way of connecting with people through a location-based social networking service for mobile devices.

After signing-up users would check-in to restaurants, bars and other locations. The listings could then be seen by connected friends. The service was augmented and made fun as users could 'earn' badges and become the 'mayor' of places visited several times in a short period.

While just a bit of fun the check-ins and mayorships could also prove beneficial. 'Mayors' might be offered discounts on goods or products. Even a simple check-in could even result in money saving offers.

Discounts and offers

In 2012 American Express tied up with Foursquare and offered significant savings for users who checked-in to a selection of outlets [tvnewswatch: Cash back for Foursquare users with AmEx deal / tvnewswatch: Amex/Foursquare tie-up is good deal for customers].

Earlier this year Amex relaunched new offers with the social network, but the revamping of Foursquare in conjunction with Swarm may complicate things [Headforpoints]. 

Two apps instead of one

Swarm was released earlier this year, but few Foursquare users opted to download the new application despite constant prompts [TechTimes]. However, users were forced to download the app recently if they wanted to continue checking-in to venues.

This angered many users who thought it ridiculous that one should need two apps to perform a simple function that one app previously did.

There was also some consternation that 'badges' were being dispensed with. Users checking in to several shopping centres would no longer become a Mall Rat. Users instead would get 'stickers'.

As for Mayors, such prestigious achievements would be frozen! [Foursquare blog]


All these changes prompts the question as to whether users would still benefit from discount offers. The disjointed marrying of the two apps might lead to confusion not only for users but also businesses which have made offers available based on repeated check-ins and mayorships.

Indeed, Foursquare may well be killing off what was a much loved service by its users.

There were of course some who merely checked-in by way of keeping a tally of all the places they'd visited. For such individuals badges, mayorships and discounts were an added bonus.

Businesses of course capitalised on the large user base in order to draw in new custom. But should that user base decline any advantages of using Foursquare and Swarm goes with it.

Angry bees

The jury is still out on whether offloading check-ins, the feature the original app was built around, to a separate, stand-alone app will prove ill-fated. However if recent reviews are to anything to go by, users aren't exactly happy. 

On the Google Play app store one user wrote, "Please revert your decision on moving the check-in option to swarm. People doesnt need two seperate app to do the same thing. Please enable foursquare check-in or more people will just leave this community" [sic].

"Why have 2 apps when 1 app is all you really need? Don't fix something that's not broken and working just fine in the first place," another wrote.

Meanwhile several suggested they were throwing in the towel altogether and deleting both Foursquare and Swarm. Over the last few days the decision by Foursquare to change their logo, app and service has resulted in dozens of critical reviews and single star ratings.

Foursquare might have thought that their new Swarm app would have pulled more people together. In fact it has had the opposite effect. The bees are angry. They are indeed swarming, but away to pastures new [Mashable].

tvnewswatch, London, UK

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