Should Campaign’s Use FourSquare?

By Too Conservative

Cross posted from TechRepublican

Ah FourSquare.* Am I obsessed? Perhaps. Every restaurant, movie theatre, and airport my girlfriend and I visit turns into a battle of “who will check-in first”. But besides the grandeur of winning badges, is FourSquare worth engaging in for a political campaign? It’s a question I was asked last week at a TechGOP event in Austin, and my inspiration for this post.

Let me begin with a disclaimer: None of my clients are using FourSquare, or even have “ghost-check-iners”, although both are something I have thought about pushing. I’m sure many fellow Tech-Republicans would share my frustration: JUST after we were able to convince campaigns and candidates that Twitter was a powerful message tool not to be avoided, here we sit trying to explain another popular medium.

Large, energetic campaigns (Meg Whitman, Ron Johnson, Marco Rubio, etc.) could potentially use the tool effectively by setting up their HQ as a location, and asking volunteers to check-in when they stop by, perhaps rewarding them with a t-shirt if they do so. This would not only show grassroots support for their campaign, but would buy into the reward-system that volunteers really enjoy. Heck, “super-volunteers” could even battle for Mayor of the HQ, and enjoy a special office privilege for keeping their Mayorship.

Another potential use: setting up locations on a statewide tour, or rally and encouraging the press, and activists to follow the candidate across the district. (I could see this being used well in early 2012 primary states.)

A potential issue (and one I sympathize with) are concerns of privacy. If a candidate is using FourSquare to the degree that many of us activists do, they’d be checking-in to restaurants, airports, and even their local gym. All places where they are likely not wishing to be bombarded by the press taking unflattering photos, issues us average Joe’s don’t have to deal with.

FourSquare’s addictive. How do I know? Because I am addicted to it. Even if I am 5 miles closer to another Chipotle, I will travel to the one I am Mayor of to be able to check-in and retain my Mayorship, and I’ve got news for you: I am not the only one. Businesses are catching onto FourSquare, but it seems with mixed results. The other day I stopped by a frozen yogurt place in New York City that offered 10% off simply for showing the cashier that you had checked in there. Genius! But when I asked the cashier about how the promotion was going, he told me they only received 1 or 2 users a day.

Perhaps naturally this problem will be solved as more and more users join the FourSquare bandwagon, but it left me more resolute than ever that FourSquare just wasn’t worth trying to work into a campaign plan….not YET at least.

Earlier I wrote on “Facebook’s permanent place in politics” , but I think the verdict’s still out on FourSquare’s permanent place in society, let alone politics. That said, I am completely on board with and agree with Jordan Raynor’s petition, and encourage you to sign it if you haven’t yet.

Would love to get thoughts in the comment section, how would you suggest using geo-location in a campaign? Is it worth engaging?

*For the simplicity of this post I chose not to mention Austin-based Gowalla, although they also have a fairly sizeable user base, including my Governor, Rick Perry.


  • edmundburkenator says:

    Just a guess here. Ninety-five percent of the people that visit this site don’t know what you are talking about with regard to Foursquare. The other 5 percent are divided on whether Foursquare is stupid or relevant.

  • Mary Gail Swenson says:

    THANK YOU, ED. 🙂 Agree 100%.

  • Ric James says:

    I keep track of various Net-related and tech-related stuff because it’s my profession so I know what FourSquare is. Question: what would say if I told you the Obama administration were going to track your cell phone so they could identify where were were at any given moment? Go further – that they were going to share that data with other entities that you might not wish to be sharing it with? I think I can safely say we’d all pretty much freak, given the privacy and security issues. (Privacy because it’s none of anyone’s business where you’re eating lunch and security because maybe it’s a bad idea to confirm to someone that your home is currently unoccupied or that you’re parked at a bar with bad lighting in the parking lot.)

    I’m certainly not going to inflict that upon myself voluntarily.

    I can’t see that a politician would want to, either. Just my $.02.

  • Ric James says:

    (Did I mention that I REALLY hate that this blog’s software strips out line spaces? Really, really, REALLY hate it!)

  • Loudoun Lady says:

    Four square is a game I played in elementary school with a red rubber ball, that’s the extent of my input.
    Ok, I will add that I was very good at Four Square……….

  • Loudoun Lady says:

    Ed, Since Cato and Brian abandoned TC – why don’t you take a stab at a post? I’m serious….maybe it will she some insight into your mysterious political leanings.

  • Loudoun Lady says:

    “Shed some light” ….

  • Cato the Elder says:

    I’m still here, I just don’t post that often (and really didn’t to begin with). I’m working on something WRT finreg for this weekend.

  • John Millhiser says:

    I am an old f**t and really don’t see the need to be everywhere all the time. Hell I forget how to sign into all these various site to even see if I have been tweeted or face tested whatever. And I also agree with ED and admit that not only do I not know what half this stuff is but I don’t care either.

  • edmundburkenator says:

    Something on the Dodd/Frank Act? Just that name alone should bring shivers… Glad you are still posting.
    LL, I am flattered that you would say that and someday, somewhere, I’m going to buy you a beer and we can make a toast to all of our disagreements.

  • Loudoun Lady says:

    Cato, I saw you authored something on NOVACOMMONSENSE and thought you jumped ship. Glad your still around because I am not sure how mnay sites I can cover daily.
    Ed – Cheers.

  • Cato the Elder says:

    I’m syndicated now.

  • Lovettsville Lady says:

    My response to Vince’s post, HUH? I have no clue what you’re talking about. You might want to explain it. Or not. It sounds goofy and like something I wouldn’t want to bother with.

  • Lovettsville Lady says:

    I spent the evening with one of my sons and his gf. Both are college graduates, gainfully employed, fairly tech savvy. My son has been building his own computers since high school. Neither of them knew anything about this new game of four square, although they remembered the elementary school game with the same name. I am not sure who this would appeal to if not the 20-somethings, or their parents.

  • Rob Iola says:

    Maybe 4 Square is making a comeback for 20- and 30-somethings, like the kickball leagues that have sprung up…

  • Jessica Powell says:

    why don’t we let the democrats try it first??? The worked out good on the absentee ballot push.

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