The State of Foursquare

Marco Santambrogio, 22/03/2011

A Look at Social Checkins from 2010 and understanding the User

Foursquare recently released a fun yet very interesting infographic that described the state of the foursquare-sphere for 2010. the graphic reveals the who what where when why and how of foursquare and tallies up the numbers from 2010.

Of interest, foursquare apparently realized a 3400% growth in 2010 – I’m assuming over 2009. In 2010 there were some 381,576,305 check-ins… that’s more than a million per day! In a first, and an impressive first at that, the first check in from space took place on October 22, 2010 via a NASA astronaut on the International Space Station (ISS) – ok I’ll toot my own horn on that note, as in 2009 I personally received an email message from the ISS from an astronaut friend of mine… beat that one foursquare ;0

So how and where are people checking in? For the most part, users of foursquare are taking the time to check in and share their locations from the following place categories:

  • restaurants
  • Work/office
  • Store/shops
  • Travel places (airports, hotel, train stations)
  • Nightlife (clubs and bars)
  • Arts & Entertainment (galleries, movie theatres)
  • Parks and rec
  • College campuses

From these venues, for the most part, users are checking in between 10 AM and 10 PM, with usage tapering off rapidly before and after those times. With foursquare originating from and being located in New York, there’s no wonder that many of the most popular foursquare venues are in the Big Apple. Some of the top venues with the most checkins include:

  • New York Penn Station
  • Wynn Hotel, Las Vegas
  • NY Museum of Modern Art
  • Whole Foods, Austin, TX
  • Pike Place Market, Seattle
  • Terminal 5, NY


From the movie going crowd, some of the most popular checkins have come from the following movie releases: Iron Man 3, Twilight Saga Eclipse, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Inception… popular check in days were Christmas Day, July 4, MLK Day, and New Year’s Day.

As far as brand promotion goes, some of the most popular brands to benefit from foursquare are MTV. History Channel, Zagat, VH1, and Bravo. Users also seem to enjoy checking in from the gym and the most popular states to see checkins from those working out were California, Illinois, Minnesota, New York, and Washington State. And a fun fact to end on… there is one Wendy’s restaurant location (Madison, WIS) where the Mayor is named Wendy!


You can view the Foursquare 2010 Info Graphic at

My Take on Foursquare

Like social media in general, businesses are still trying to figure out why social media, why foursquare and how to capitalize on it and leverage the apps and services into $$. From my perspective, business owners, at the very least, need to take over ownership of their information and listings and providing accurate information about their business to the users. Foursquare (and other social apps) offer tools and analytics to business owners and these need to be used.

The users are still suffering from a rapid burnout and many seem to drop off from using foursquare and other checkin services. I’ve noticed many of the “techie, geeky, early adopters” that they seem to drop off in use mainly due to lack of reward and simple boredom. Many of us elect to drop one service and take up using another, newer service to see what it has to offer. Simple mayor rewards are boring and not effective in my opinion as they tend to reward the same, small click of regular visitors to an establishment. For user that want to get more out of foursquare I suggest looking at some of the third party apps and tools that build on foursquare, enabling you to do some cool things with your checkin data and history. For example, there are tools that enable you to create a historical map (see WeePlaces link below) of your travels, displaying a cool time series map of your travels… way cool! Foursquare also becomes a little more fun when it is integrated with other apps and tools, for example, link your foursquare account with facebook so your close friends can comment and enjoy your travels or use foursquare with Waze navigation app to make that service even more fun.

Written by Glenn Letham, for a long-time foursquare user with Super User status and has logged more than 815 checkins, accumulated 24 badges, completed 51 to-do’s, and currently holds 9 mayorships (although has relinquished dozens).


Marco Santambrogio

Founder and Managing Director

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