Day 12: Foursquare’s Potential Big Deal

Yesterday I wrote about Foursquare partnerships and promised to write today about the biggest potential deal — with search engines.

Recently Foursquare has been in talks with the big 3 search engines: Google, Yahoo and Microsoft. They would index check-in data in search results (likely alongside news, videos and images relating to your search. Now you’ll also see check-ins). I can even imagine this being integrated with Google Maps.

Let’s say you’re in a new city. Maybe you don’t have a taxi and just want something close by that’s good. You can check reviews but what if you want to know what’s currently most popular (or where to go to possibly meet some singles or what a celebrity likes). You could get aggregate information about check-in popularity through a search engine.

This would take Foursquare into the mainstream because you wouldn’t have to use it to find it helpful. However, they would still rely on check-ins (which I’ve heard are at about a million a week). If it’s like most social networks there are a lot more lurkers than participants. For now Foursquare doesn’t have critical mass. But more exposure through search engines could help there too.

Twitter is about what people are saying and Foursquare is about where people are going. Foursquare cofounder and CEO Dennis Crowley said,

“Twitter helped the world and the search engines know what people are talking about. Foursquare would allow people to search for the types of place people are going to – and where is trending – not what.”

I see more integration with Twitter and other social networks like Facebook – if not officially at least unofficially. In other words, multi-platform promotions that integrate with Foursquare. Mom bloggers do this all the time with giveaways. You enter their contests by commenting on their post, following them on Twitter (or tweeting about the contest), becoming a fan on Facebook (or writing on their wall). They just need to add, checking in on Foursquare.

Here’s a small example of how McDonald’s integrated Twitter and Foursquare:

Watch for how search engines will get in on this game. First they tried to buy Foursquare, and when they were turned down now they want to work with them. Signing new partnerships with search engines would cement Foursquare’s leadership in the location based social network space. The deals wouldn’t be bad for investors either.

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