Will Foursquare users warm to Swarm?


By Chris Lee

Foursquare has launched a companion app called Swarm which it says is designed to locate users’ friends and also find out whether or not those people are interested in meeting up. The Foursquare app itself will go through something of a change in the near future as the brand aims to create a “discovery-focussed” proposition.

Writing about Swarm in its blog, Foursquare said: “We built Swarm because you’ve told us how often you still have to text your friends: ‘where are you?’ and ‘what are you up to later?’ We wanted to build a quick way for you to know these two things for all of your friends. With Swarm, you can easily see which of your friends are out nearby, figure out who is up for grabbing a drink later, and share what you’re up to (faster and more easily than you can in Foursquare today).”

Swarm will be available on iOS and Android devices in the coming weeks and soon after on Windows Phone.

Big move for Foursquare

Drew Benvie is managing director of communications consultancy Battenhall and a long-time user of Foursquare. He believes that with the launch of Swarm the team behind Foursquare have carried out their biggest move since the launch of their original app, by splitting in half the two core principles behind the location based networking service.

“What this means is that the process of local discovery and the act of checking into a place to share your current location are two different apps,” Benvie told NMK.

So why has Foursquare made the decision to change?

“The problem with the old Foursquare was that offering users both discovery and networking, it actually never appealed in a mainstream way to either kind of user,” Benvie argued. “I’ve long been a big fan of the old Foursquare, but it was never going to fulfil on its promise as a jack of two trades and a master of none. With the creation of Swarm, Foursquare is offering brands and users alike a more natural way to use its wealth of local data either for consumers or creators.”

Benvie believes Swarm is for the creators. Users can check in and see where their friends are. New functionality helps users to add detail to their activity, such as emoticon-style badges, and plans for future activity.

“Foursquare will then be for discovery, which is similar to what ‘Foursquare Explore’ has been trying to create since it was launched as a part of Foursquare two years ago. Users will not need to check in to add value – the experience will all be about discovery,” he concluded. “For brands what this means is getting their heads around how to engage with an emerging pair of consumer behaviours, tapping into local social networking and also social venue discovery. This isn’t a quantum leap away from the Foursquare of old, but should grow awareness of the space as a whole.”

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