I don’t mean to get off on a rant here but can we talk about the mess that FourSquare has caused in the effort to ‘evolve’ its brand? FourSquare, the social media check in app that started in 2009 was always targeting the techier consumer. Geeks would use the app to tell their network where they were and what places were offering. It was gameified by offering badges for checking in repeatedly at coffee shops (yep I had that one). If you checked in more than most at a location you could become the MAYOR. As the system grew, brands jumped on and gave an incentive to be the mayor. Some bars and restaurants would offer a free appetizer to the mayor or a special for checking in. In 2011, FourSquare teamed up with American Express to offer a special rebate to customers that 1. checked in with FourSquare and 2. payed with their American Express. That promotion/partnership was brand-spot-on. The two services complimented each other and increased the usage of both. If you checked in to a concert, airport or other popular venue it might say that the place was ‘swarmming’. You could connect with other users and it was crowd sourced fun. Fast forward to today. FourSquare has divided their application (and ecosystem of users) by forcing check-ins to use a new application called SWARM and the main application, the one people know the name of FourSquare is a bad attempt to be Yelp. Guess what FourSquare, I was already a member of both. What your latest move has done is create no reason for me to keep your app. Sure check-ins are getting competition from FaceBook and Yelp but FourSquare was the place for fun badges and deals (something Yelp and FaceBook) were not competing with. Staying true to the start FourSquare was able to outlast and outplay the likes of GoWalla (closed in 2012) and Loopt. FourSquare mayor-ship even made it into the “Gotta Share! The Musical” video in 2011.
Disregard for your base
With 45 million users FourSquare is/was still a niche player. It is the base/ core users that helped to create locations. To establish social locations for small businesses that might not be ‘techie’ yet. Similar to the Judgement of Solomon, FourSquare has split the baby. Many users that have been with FourSquare since the beginning in 2009 are ditching the service. IMO disregarding your base was not a good move for your brand.