Get out the party hats and streamers. Whip out the chip dip. On Saturday, social media super-users will celebrate Foursquare, a location-based smartphone app that has won over the unreserved but freaks out the untrusting.
This is the second annual Foursquare Day. The first was conjured up by a Tampa Bay optometrist who was amused to find the perfect date to celebrate (April 16 = 4/16, 16 = 4 squared, get it?) It spread like wildfire online, and super fans from metro areas around the globe are getting in on the act this year.
What act? Well, really, it's just an excuse to spread the word about the social media application and get free promotional swag by getting groups of people to meet up.
James Brown, Miami's volunteer Foursquare Ambassador and the organizer of Saturday's local event, is one such super fan. [Details on #4SqDayMiami]
A year ago, when buzz about the service began, "I quite honestly was the worst advocate of it in the whole world," says Brown, 42, who works in marketing.
After seeing the deals he could get, he started helping businesses sign up, and has become passionate about Foursquare's potential as a marketing tool.
"It's going to be the Facebook for businesses," he says.
Foursquare’s newest update has free tools for businesses to track how many customers are using the app. Beth Butler, president of One Sotheby’s International Realty, is encouraging real-estate agents to use it. [See today's Foursquare Spring Fling Real Estate Scavenger Hunt]
"I don’t expect it to be an overnight sensation," Butler said. "I think it's a great way to promote real estate in the area without hitting someone over the head with it."
For more details about Foursquare, how it works, and privacy concerns, read this week's full Poked column: Even for privacy-conscious, Foursquare has its perks
I rarely use it to broadcast my whereabouts and there's not much value in its frequent-user points and badges game. But I would use Foursquare to let friends know about something of interest, and post it after I leave.
Here are a few ways the privacy-conscientious can celebrate Foursquare Day:
• Save money. I've seen restaurants offer free desserts, big-name retailers give a percentage off a sale and — no surprise in Miami – Botox dispensers offer $10 off a treatment.
• Make better decisions. Read user tips about a restaurant or venue — busy times to avoid, food you simply must try — before heading out.
• Find something new to do. Use the "explore" feature to search general categories like nightlife, shopping, entertainment and food within a 10-mile radius, or type in an offbeat search term and see where the night takes you. Searching "trivia" located bars that had a trivia night, and "romantic" generated ideas for a date night.