Posted June 20, 2011 2:35 pm by with 1 comment

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The internet is full of lurkers, those curious folks who read but don’t join in. (You know who you are.) Social media has them by the ton and Foursquare is determined to involve them one way or the other.

Foursquare co-founder Dennis Crowley spoke at a conference this week where he talked about ways of bringing additional value to Foursquare users. Twitter has a large lurker rate, but many people who don’t Tweet actively use the service to follow friends, celebs and hashtags. But as BetaBeat points out, following people on Foursquare without actually participating is, well. . . tantamount to stalking.

The solution, says Crowley, is to introduce an explore feature and maybe even celebrity squares. With just a little tweaking, Foursquare can position itself as a city guide with top users suggesting the best places to eat, shop and visit.

Imagine you’re traveling to a new city on business. Simply call up Foursquare on your phone and instantly you have three choices for dinner and a discount for the museum down the street. It’s a natural. A little star struck? How about a restaurant recommendation from Beyonce, or a lead on the best little club in Nashville from country star Tim McGraw?

Co-founder Naveen Selvadurai says,

“A big part of the foursquare experience has value even if you’re not checking in, because there’s a ton of knowledge that is shared within the community. In the future, we’re going to find more ways to share more of that, whether it’s more personalized recommendations or better social sharing tools.”

Sounds like they’re moving in the right direction. It also sounds like they’re getting closer to a partnership with Groupon. As much as we don’t really need another daily deal service, Foursquares emphasis on activities outside the home, makes it a natural fit.

Tell the truth, are you a Foursquare lurker?

  • Cynthia, I think these are really important points to keep in mind, and I’ve certainly seen some striking numbers on how inactive some social media users are. There is a cultural trend in social media that I think of as somewhat purist, and I don’t mean that in a pejorative way—that social media use SHOULD entail actual engagement, content creation and curation, and should not be used to lurk, or, even, as a substitute RSS reader. There is so much discussion about the two-way or multi-way qualities of social media communication, since these are its defining characteristics, that I do think we overlook how these channels are used in one-way, top-down communication. So I think FourSquare’s tactic here is savvy and actually kind of sophisticated—if users are coming these channels to passively consume their media (again, not pejorative!), why not give them some value. I would be very curious how something like this could be adopted at other channels, some sort of tiered membership where the best content producers are favored. This entirely goes against the democratic point of these channels, but it could prove useful in selecting better content. @ryoatcision