Maybe it’s my morning grumpypuss shining through, but I have to share the comment I made at Olivier Blanchard’s The BrandBuilder Blog today. His post, Fixing Foursquare, is a good one and it set off a nerve with me.
Badges, schmadges…I could honestly give to hoots about badges. Maybe it’s just me, but I’m kind of tired of companies thinking we users are like over-zealous boy scouts who will stop at nothing to earn a badge (and unlike with the boy scouts, these online badges are rather pointless). I can’t share or trade them…or even state with pride to my significant other that I worked hard to earn one. Three quarters of the adult population don’t even know what you’re talking about anyway…they just look at you like you have lobsters crawling out your ears in the first place.
Here’s what I want: I want utility. I want an exchange where that by using Foursquare or Gowalla, I’m getting a substantive value. Fine, keep the gaming format, but they need to quit thinking that a silly badge for standing on a boat is going to make me want to continue using the service. Show me new places to eat. Even better, show me where to eat in cities where I’m unfamiliar with the surroundings. If Foursquare can keep me from having to eat at a McDonalds because it’s the only recognized restaurant, then I’ll love it that much more.
And for the love of all things holy, they’ve got to stop worrying about getting more users and start worrying a whole lot more about getting businesses involved. And not just the megabehemoth businesses, but the smaller local ones, as well. The problem is – and I can say this from experience of trying to introduce Foursquare to business owners – many just don’t see the connection to their own business success. But sell the benefits to them and make it downright irresistible (and insanely easy) to be a partner. Like you, Olivier, I believe that if they can get businesses involved and people who are unfamiliar with Foursquare will likely check it out.
Unless there’s a strong factor of utility, it’s just a game…and a game that gets pretty boring the more you play it.
There it is. Comments? Add your thoughts to Olivier’s post or post them below.