Little-known Foursquare

Cервисы, продукты, программы и открытые технологии, которыми обладает социальная сеть Foursquare.

Little-known Foursquare

Little-known Foursquare

Little-known Foursquare, photo 1

Products for users

Foursquare Day

Foursquare Day was launched in 2010 on the 16th of April, or 04/16, i.e. “four” and “four squared”. The idea was proposed by an inhabitant of Tampa in Florida. The same year, McDonald’s joined the campaign and started offering its customers a chance to win 5$ and 10$ certificates with a check-in, increasing the amount of visitors by 33%. In 2016, Foursquare launched a special #4sq365 hashtag for sharing interesting locations.


Specials is an opportunity to reel more customers in by giving discounts and offers for checking in. Information about Specials is displayed in the venue’s profile in Foursquare. Incentives can be different, like a free glass of beer or a discount on a restaurant check, and are given for various activities like reposting the check-in, leaving a like in the social networks and so on. In fact, some users use Foursquare exclusively for finding places that offer Specials.


Marsbot is a recommendation app. A few days after the app is installed, it sends the smartphone owner a message with a suggestion to visit a certain place or take a better walking route. The recommendations are based on data on the users’ movements and places they’ve visited.

Trip Tips

Trip Tips is a service that suggests going to various places in cities and countries that the user plans to visit. It’s enough to simply specify the destination and share the link with your friends, whose advice will be automatically collected in Foursquare and placed on the map.

Foursquare for Slack App

Foursquare has a widget for integration with Slack that helps companies pick the best place for a meeting or other corporate event.

Trending This Week

Trending This Week is a public catering rating system in the vein of Billboard that is operational in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Atlanta and updated each Thursday.


The most sensational and controversial change that Foursquare underwent in 2014 was the branching of the service into two apps, Foursquare and Swarm. The former focused on reviews and suggestions while the latter funneled in user check-in activity and would function more like a social network. One of the distinctive options in Swarm is Neighborhood Sharing that eliminates the need to manually check in every time and automates checking in by running Swarm in the background.

The changes in competitive mechanics (points, rating, badges and mayorship) were especially discontenting. Previously, only one user could become a mayor by collecting the largest amount of check-ins in a location; now, competition takes place exclusively among friends and dozens and hundreds of mayors at once can stay “in charge” of a venue, each in their own private circle. According to the minds behind this idea, it’s more fun to compete with someone you know than with some stranger who hangs around at the same bar every day.

In return, users were given the ability to add stickers to a check-in instead of the usual badges. 20 stickers are available at the start, and a total of 100 are gradually unlocked  as rewards for achievements made while using Swarm (like in the old Foursquare). Additional 20 stickers were released to commemorate special dates, and 25 golden stickers are available for those who have taken the lead among their friends in a certain category.

Moreover, in 2014 Swarm presented the Plans option that was supposed to encourage people to spend time together with the help of group messages visible to all nearby friends. However, there wasn’t much demand for Plans and it disappeared in the later versions of the app. Instead, in March 2015 Swarm was outfitted with a messaging feature that turned it into a geolocation-powered messenger.

Adding the history search feature turned out to be a more important update, as it allowed the user to scroll through the check-ins in their profile, sort them using specific parameters and find out who tagged themselves in a particular venue as well.

Products for business and marketing


Pinpoint is an ad service that employs user check-in data to help advertisers target their ads. This data includes information on how frequently the user visits a certain location, the user’s proximity to a specific store and even their style and habits. Pinpoint can also assist in ad targeting outside of Foursquare apps.

The service constructs a location “heatmap” called Place Shapes that displays the world the way the users’ smartphones see it when they receive signals from cellular base stations, Wi-Fi points, Bluetooth connections and so on. This proprietary technology, used in several other advertisement products, is named Pilgrim. Later, Pilgrim was modified with the capacity to automatically determine the location, but the user can manually change the location if it was determined incorrectly. Also, as Pilgrim can run in the background, it can send notifications to the user

Pinpoint was yet another step towards monetizing the vast amount of geodata that Foursquare commands. The Pinpoint website states that the service is used by more than 100 000 companies including Uber, Twitter and Pinterest.

Local Updates

A service for business owners, Local Updates allows messaging nearby users that are selected according to Pinpoint data. For instance, it was employed by the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation to incite users to visit the city’s 1250 parks more often. Various establishments can send out their news to regular customers (that are identified using data on customer visits) when they are in the vicinity. Up to three photos and a bonus can be attached to each message.


Attribution is a metrics system that measures the effectiveness of online and traditional media advertisement in attracting customers to a location. With this product Foursquare taps on their data to build correlations between changes in visitor traffic and active advertisement campaigns.

In his blog, Jeff Glueck, CEO of Foursquare relates the following case. For three weeks before and for a week after the market launch of iPhone 5, 5S and iPhone 6, Foursquare was gathering data on the amount of customers that had visited Apple’s outlets in the past and managed to collect data on the last three years. The analysis showed that foot traffic would increase by 200 to 300 percent on each new iPhone launch day. Applying this result to the statistics on Apple’s everyday sales in 2015, Foursquare predicted that the company would sell 13 to 15 million iPhones on the weekend after the new model was launched in September 2015.

Another example given by Foursquare is Super Bowl, the most popular sporting event in the USA. Hyundai, the official NFL sponsor, enjoyed the lead in growth in the automotive market segment for a week after Super Bowl. Similar success was in store for another sponsor, the Taco Bell fast food restaurant. Yet another caterer, the Red Lobster chain, experienced a one-third surge in traffic after the brand was mentioned in the new “Formation” single by Beyonce that was presented during the game (by the way, the context was rather dirty: “When he fuck me good, I take his ass to Red Lobster”).

Live Attribution Dashboard

Live Attribution Dashboard is a platform that grants access to data on daily visits, traffic increase, ad campaign effectiveness, customer devices and so on. It provides reports about the target audience: age groups, geographical location, gender, customer loyalty and so on.

Native Ads

A tool for advertisers powered by geolocation data, Native Ads offers users to visit nearby venues that might potentially be of interest to them according to Foursquare data analysis. To determine this, the tool examines check-ins in places visited by the user (whether once or regularly) and places that are frequented by the user’s friends in social networks.

Place Insights

Place Insights is a sales, finance, real estate and retail oriented system that tracks visitor traffic depending on date and time of day. For example, when working with sales, it helps by searching for accounts of consumers whose interests overlap with the company’s business area. Portfolio investors and analysts, on the other hand, are given the opportunity for a finer analysis of a particular company’s business.

Real estate developers can use it to monitor visitor traffic in different regions to estimate capacity and gain more precise control over the real estate market. As for retail, the tool helps pick up trends in the required market segment and obtain data on customer behavior.

For instance, Foursquare has researched the sales slump of the Chipotle Mexican food chain after a scandal in December 2015 when more than twenty Boston college students contracted E. Coli after dining at one of the chain’s restaurants. Moreover, Chipotle restaurants had been involved in E. Coli infection cases in another nine American states.

Comparing 2014 and 2015 traffic data for 1900 restaurants, Foursquare discovered that the amount of customers dropped by 23 percent and, as it turned out later, predicted the fall in financial performance in the 1st quarter of 2016 by 30% with absolute precision. Foursquare estimated that Chipotle’s regulars would visit the restaurants 50% less, leaving for rivals like Whole Foods, McDonald’s and Starbucks.

Foursquare Ads

Advertisement with Foursquare gives small establishments a way to attract new customers that is much cheaper than traditional methods (that are, by the way, significantly harder to analyze).

One of the reasons this kind of advertisement is so efficient is that 78% of those looking for local venues and stores using a phone are guaranteed to later make a purchase at the place. In fact, the announcements are displayed to perfect customers, i.e., those who are located nearby and are looking for the relevant products and services, or those who have been to similar establishments but haven’t visited the advertised place yet.

In addition, a business owner may be authorized to manage the location of their establishment by adding attractive photos, changing the venue’s name, category and working hours, updating location info or adding useful links to the company’s website, menu or social network account, while giving customers check-in bonuses, providing tips and analyzing traffic.

Products for iOS-developers


Ios-oauth allows you to set up native authorization in any app via Foursquare.


A tool for convenient and simplified creation of sections and cells in apps, FSQCellManifest makes everything that you had to describe with a ton of code much more compact.


This library sets more flexible parameters for the layout of UICollectionView, a standard tool for creating item collections.


FSQLocationBroker is a set of classes that grants the developer access to the user’s location quickly and efficiently.


The delegate pattern is a very common tool in many Obj-C libraries, such as UIKit. However, sometimes you want the ability to have more than one object receive delegate callbacks, and then standard libraries just won’t be enough. FSQMessageForwarder was written precisely for this: it acts as a proxy delegate object, forwarding messages it receives to other objects.

Products for Android-developers


Foursquare-android-oauth does the same thing as ios-oauth, i.e., authorizes the user of an app via Foursqaure.


Placepicker-sdk-sample is an SDK for quick and easy place picking.

Products for developers. API

It is worth noting that each location exists in the API not as a simple point but as something like a “trace” that accumulates various data received by devices. The database contains 85 million confirmed locations, 57 billion received signals, 12 million reviews, 87 million tips, photos, metadata and more.

The API is employed by companies like Twitter, Apple, Microsoft, Yahoo, Pinterest, HTC, Samsung, WeChat, Garmin and Uber. Twitter is a good example as it integrated the option to read tweets from a selected location, which can be a city or even a specific stadium, music festival and so on.

Requirements for Android developers

A list of basic skills, guides, useful articles and sources that a beginner Android developer should know

Little-known Airbnb

The central character of our third article is Airbnb, and It`s more than just a way for landlords and tenants to find each other