Foursquare is a web and mobile application that allows registered users to post their location at a venue “check-in” and connect with friends. GPS hardware and software in the mobile device provides the physical coordinates for the network to pinpoint the user’s location. When users check-in they receive awards in the form of points and “badges”.

As of April 2012, the company reported having over 20 million registered users, with an average of 3 million check-ins per day. Both genders are equally represented and 50 percent of users are outside the US.

Foursquare also supports French, Italian, German, Spanish, Indonesian, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Thai, and Turkish languages.

Users are encouraged to be hyper-local and hyper-specific with their check-ins. The specifics of users locations can even be distilled down to a check into a certain floor/area of a building, or indicate a specific activity while at a venue.

Foursquare is compatible with Facebook and Twitter as it allows check-ins to be shared / posted. However, many “unfollows” took place with this practice as Twitter users exhibited active distaste for automatically generated bursts of Foursquare logs.

Foursquare History pages allow users to search and review past check-ins, which is organized by month and year. A sidebar also allows them to search their check-ins by category or who they were with at the time.

Badges are earned by checking into various venues. Some badges can only be earned in a specific city. Foursquare has, however, changed the way they handle badges, and now when a user gains a badge, he or she has the same badges across all cities. Once a badge is earned by a user, it will remain on that user’s profile indefinitely.

There are social recognition levels that a user can obtain for checking in to a site more often than other users, and can earn the title of “mayor” for that site. If a user has checked into a venue on more days than anyone else in the past 60 days, and can be lost if another user checks in more than the previous mayor- to keep this title a user has to continuously check in to maintain their position as mayor. Foursquare scores users for a variety of activity and in turn promotes the viral nature of promoting venues and entertainment with a highly sophisticated back end.

Foursquare Brands allows companies to create pages of tips and allows users to “follow” the company and receive special, expert tips from them when they check-in at certain locations. Some of the companies even allow users to unlock special badges with enough check-ins.

“Specials” are an incentive for Foursquare users to go “check-in” at a new spot or revisit their favorite hangout. These can include free stuff or discounts that businesses use to persuade new customers and bring regular customers back. Venues even display a Foursquare sign to let users know that there is a “Special” waiting for them. Some Foursquare users only use Foursquare for the “Specials”.

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