Ever since expressing themselves themselves on the cave walls at Lascaux, people have always had the urge to talk about what a fabulous life they lead. Facebook was fun (for a while) and Twitter even better, but with that 140 character limit, it's always been such a drag to waste any precious characters discussing where you are.
But not any more.
With the spread of smartphones, location-based services are the latest hot new addition to the social media landscape, and in particular, Foursquare.com.
Using the GPS in your smartphone, when you're somewhere you want to tell people about, simply "check in" at Foursquare.com - and be sure to enable the Twitter and FB "shout" option so all your friends (real or online) will be apprised of how much fun it is where you are. Every time you check in, you also earn points and badges, and by going to coffee shops, clubs, boutiques and any other number of activities, you earn yet more badges. If you check in more than anyone else at any one place, you are then anointed its Mayor - so if anyone asks if you're a regular, you can simply pull out your phone and show off your mayoral status.
Foursquare also lets you compete against your friends, no matter where they live, with the weekly City Leader Board - making it easy to keep official score on who who has the cooler lifestyle.
I've been on Foursquare since February since the buzz out of SXSW started growing, rocketing Foursquare past rivals Gowalla and Loopt. So far, I've snagged 19 badges, been top 20 on the Boston Leaderboard for 10 straight weeks, and am the Mayor of 29 places. I’m also currently in a pitched battle with Andrew A. over the Mayorship of my local Starbucks - particularly in June when being Mayor of any Starbucks nationwide allowed you to buy a $2.00 Grande Frappuccino as long as you were Mayor. (Andrew A. currently has me but I know I’m only a check-in or two behind.) That Starbucks promotion is the beginning of what Foursquare will eventually be able to offer to the businesses that are being competed over for those Mayorships. As the fall beckons us back from the beach, that is no doubt when Foursquare will really become a new part of social media.
I’m currently on my way to my Starbucks for a double iced latte before heading out tonight. Want to know where I’ll be later? I’m Mark B. in Boston and I’m willing to stack my fabulous life up against yours, anytime.
- Mark Behnke, Men’s Style Editor
(images: Bow to Your Mayor tee)