Foursquare 3.0: What the changes mean for you

By Lauren Sleeper Foursquare V3 was released this week and along with the new features comes some very exciting implications for brands and their retails shops.  The features also provide both current and potential Foursquare users with new added value for using the app.

Explore

According to the founders, the underlying driver for the latest version was 'every check-in counts'. Therefore, if you are checking in to your regular gym or checking in to a restaurant you've never been to, the goal is to make each one of these activities, regardless of their regularity, valuable to the user.  One way they are implementing this philosophy is through the new 'Explore' tab.

By selecting what you're looking for, either by choosing a category and searching or by search alone, Foursquare will return a list of suggestions.  According to the Foursquare blog, the list is compiled from a number of things: "the places you’ve been, the places your friends have visited, your loyalty to your favorite places, the categories and types of places you gravitate towards, what’s popular with other users, the day of the week, places with great tips, the time of day, and so on."  Foursquare even takes it a step further by showing you the reason why that particular place would be of interest  (ie similar to your favorite spots).  Now, by simply opening Foursquare you can crowd-source information from your friends to help you decide where to grab lunch or even where you should hit the karaoke stage.

Leaderboard

Foursquare's leaderboard also received a facelift in this release.  You are now able to see your stats for the last seven days and compare your points to those of your friends.  A new points system has also been introduced that rewards you for more activities than ever before - trying new restaurants, visiting new cities, hanging out with groups of friends, etc.  Check out the new points I received below for my first check-in at Likeable's brand-new Boston office! The more sophisticated points system hopes to encourage and motivate users to continue to explore their neighborhoods and cities even further, and bring Foursquare along for the ride.

Loyalty

As avid Foursquare users can attest, mayorships often come with perks - discounts for coffee or maybe even some cool freebies.  However, as more people are joining the Foursquare movement, mayorships are getting harder to attain, and once you're ousted, chances are slim you'll be able to win that coveted spot back.  More and more retailers are realizing the huge potential of Foursquare and how much it can really help drive traffic through their doors.  Not ones to disappoint, Foursquare is now going to roll out new types of Foursquare specials (not just available to mayors anymore!) over the next few weeks that retailers will be able to employ.  With this latest version, businesses can offer specials to current and potential customers through flash specials, swarms, groups of friends, regulars, newbies, Mayors, or simply to everyone.  It is now also easier and more intuitive for users to find the specials close-by, as all specials listed under the places tab.

Foursquare has the potential to replace every loyalty card you have dangling on your keychain or crowding your wallet - plus, how much cooler is a Foursquare loyalty "membership" than a plastic card!  With this move, Foursquare has a strong likelihood of becoming the ultimate online loyalty solution.

The business end is also becoming more streamlined.  Merchants will now have access to an analytics dashboard, which displays all of your business's information, gives you the ability to manage and run multiple specials at once, and allows you to track performance both during and after a special is run.  As before, running and managing specials at a business remains free.  With all the new options available to merchants and the ease of which a merchant can implement them, it's logical that even more brands will come on board.  This ease of specials implementation on the business side, and the high visibility of specials on the user end, the sky is really the limit with the newly revamped specials.

Are you a Foursquare user? If so, what do you think of the update?  If you are a business, have you implemented Foursquare specials?  Share with us!