Mobile App Success Story: How Foursquare Did It

Last Monday we described the strategy behind an amazing transit solution, Citymapper. While this app fixed the transportation issue for everyone who lives or travels in big cities, a concern still remains. Where to go when you want to have fun? Don’t worry; this is the purpose of this article. To present you another location – based app, Foursquare created for helping people to discover a great restaurant, an interesting coffee shop or the best places to visit. Due to its success it became one of Fast Company’s 2017 Top 10 Most Innovative Companies In Data Science.

Brilliant Idea

Foursquare was built as a social check – in app and mobile website by Dennis Crowley and Naveen Selvadurai as a new version of Dodgeball, the location – based service created by Dennis with Alex Rainert which was bought by Google in 2005. Foursquare was released in 2009 at SXSW. It’s been 8 years since then but the company continues its successful path. Meanwhile Naveed left the company and the app changed a lot during this period but it is still the major solution for more than 50 million users to receive reliable information about their favorite cities or to share their experiences with their friends.

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How Foursquare Did It

It is not enough to build an amazing app. You need to increase the performance level and we are about to reveal how Foursquare continues to grow using the most efficient strategies.


We all know the benefits offered by turning an app into a game when you consider adding playful elements. This is the way Foursquare attracted its users in the first place. With leaderboard, coins, badges and the opportunity to win the title of mayor for their favorite place it was a great technique to engage customers. Even if a few years ago people weren’t so comfortable with all the process of sharing their location, the app allowed them to take part in the game and it still kept their information private.

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High Lifetime Value Users

We all love loyal customers, but at Foursquare they even have a special name: Superusers which help the app whenever it is necessary. And like all superheroes they have superpowers. They take care of the app and in the same time, they keep all the information organized. This system provides different levels from 1 to 10 with US10 being the highest for the most influential Superuser. Additionally to the way they maintain all the data in order they offer valuable tips to all the members of community. In the next image we have a snippet from the official page with the benefits prepared for Superusers.

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Holidays And Events

The team behind Foursquare knows that every event is a great occasion for friends to meet, so they take advantage of big celebrations to attract users. If it is summer then a travel guide is the best way for convincing customers to pay attention to the services they offer. Valentine’s Day is the perfect opportunity for the single ones to find the perfect match with the help of the app and the First Thursday of February needs to be mentioned because this was the first day of this year when people forgot about their resolution made for New Year’s Eve to lose weight. Foursquare has the proof shown in the following Infographic that the number of check – ins recorded in fast food restaurants is definitely higher than the ones from the gyms.

Highlight The Community Built Around The App

If you think about it, the growth engine for a network app is its community. And this is available also for Foursquare. This is the reason why the app rewarded all users with 100 bonus coins when they gathered 10 billion check – ins after 7 years. And because this is a notable milestone, a funny list with the most impressive events previously registered by Foursquare was shared with the audience on the official Foursquare Blog.

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Partnership With Big Names

Foursquare is a free app because its owners found a different source of revenue than users. Providing location intelligence features for improving the services of other great companies was the smart way to increase their business. This year, an article on Medium announced the partnership with Reddit for offering its customers the option to tag locations for different posts. The “front page of the internet” is not the first company who makes this type of agreement with Foursquare. Snapchat, Uber, Airbnb and many more known names in the industry use the solutions provided by Foursquare. Moreover, with Foursquare API other developers can integrate these services for helping small businesses along with great enterprises.

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Bonus Tip: Simplify As Much As You Can

As an app owner, when you are receiving feedback from users, you feel the temptation to complicate the app more and more with the purpose to offer for all your customers what they need. But, you will get in a risky point where your creation is too complex, that most of them will be lost inside the app. And the catastrophe will happen in the next moment. The churn rate will rise exponentially. This fact determined Foursquare’s owners to split their service into two apps with different goals according to their target audience. Foursquare remains a city guide, while Swarm has the check – in features with the gamification elements. Besides that, Foursquare team tests a new type of bot app, Marsbot which offers hints and advices before being asked about the best places for users. The important part is that it is programmed to learn customers’ preferences. Today’s technology goes far and beyond our imagination.

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After combining social network features with location – based services, you will say that the app obtained it is a sure success from the start. And this is true. But additional factors come to improve the entire evolution of Foursquare converting it into an amazing experience. If the app brings a huge number of benefits for the ones who use it, then there is no reason to uninstall it. When you want to build a new app think about providing these valuable elements for your customers and you can be sure that you will win them forever.

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