The mobile web has taken restaurants, shops, museums, landmarks and other venues by storm. Citizens armed with smartphones are creating a whirlwind of information in real-time about locations all over the world using checkins, photos and tips. Many venues are now incorporating this activity into their experience.
Nominated venues were judged on the creativity and impact of their social media integration.
South by South West, a music and film festival based in Austin, Texas, was the catalyst for a major Foursquare achievement in 2010: a record breaking 275,000-plus check-ins in one day. SXSW 2010 was also considered an unofficial competition event between Foursquare and its rival, Austin’s location-based social networking site Gowalla. Both sites were heavily utilized by members throughout the event, although Foursquare had four times the number of mentions on social networks that included Twitter, Facebook and Google Buzz.
In October and November 2010, comedian Conan O’Brien flew an orange blimp emblazoned with “Conan” and “TBS” across the United States to advertise his new late night talk show on the cable channel. In partnership with AT&T, O’Brien encouraged Foursquare users to take mobile photos of the blimp and post them online in exchange for a digital Conan badge. The blimp was spotted in cities across the U.S., from New York and Baltimore to Atlanta and Los Angeles.
On October 22nd, 2010, American astronaut Douglas H. Wheelock was the first person to check into Foursquare from a location not on Earth. Wheelock earned a NASA Explorer badge from Foursquare, as well as a free scoop of astronaut ice cream and effectively became Foursquare mayor of space. The check-in also heralded Foursquare’s new partnership with NASA, which encourages users to “explore the universe.” Back on Earth, it’s possible to get the NASA Foursquare badge by visiting space-themed museums, exhibits, and attractions.
Foursquare created a “Last Degree Badge” to be earned by the first person to check in at the North Pole. Two people raced for the badge: 44-year-old David Newman and 15-year-old Parker Liautaud, both from the United Kingdom. Both also had a second goal in pursuing the prize: to draw more attention to environmental issues in the Arctic. Liautaud won, checking into Fourquare from the North Pole at 12:25 p.m. on April 10th, 2010.
During aggressive winter storms that began in October 2010 and continued through December, 15,891 people in the New York metro area checked into Snowpocalypse 2010 on Foursquare. Tag words included “yellow snow,” “freezing kisses” and “the white stuff.” Moments after Foursquare launched photo publishing capabilities, users posted 241 photos of the Big Apple’s snow, slush and freezing ice to Snowpocalypse 2010.
Tiananmen Square is a sensitive subject for the Chinese government and was especially so in 2010 during the 21st anniversary of bloody anti-government protests that took place there in 1989. Hundreds of Foursquare users began checking into Tiananmen Square, which was speculated to be an act of sympathy for the protesters. The Chinese government did not welcome the attention and said Foursquare users were leaving “sensitive comments.” As a result, the government banned Foursquare in June, adding it to a list of blocked sites that already included Twitter and Flickr.