Foursquare is one of those social networking sites I've never understood. All I know is that people were using it to "check-in" to various locations, so that they could then meet up with friends who were in the same 'hood or restaurant. Facebook thought it was pretty neat, too, so they jumped on the bandwagon and added a Foursquare-ish feature called "Places."
I've never participated in either, because I feel like it's asking for trouble. The whole world -- or even just my whole "social network" -- does NOT have to know that I'm at Whole Foods or aboard the New Jersey Transit. If they must know, they will know, because I'll call them and say, "Hey, I'm at Whole Foods." I get that it's supposed to be helpful, but I feel like it's more "look at me, look at me!" egomaniacal behavior. It also feels like an invasion of my personal privacy.
ANYWAY ... I may have to eat my words. Literally.
Because now there's an actual reason I might want to start using Foursquare: Mario Batali. No, I'm not going to stalk the celeb chef. But I may want to follow his "check-in"s.
That's because Batali will soon be offering special deals at his 15 restaurants for Foursquare users in New York, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles. He'll also be leaving tips at his favorite restaurants for other users to check out. I guess the tips will be along the lines of one of his Foursquare posts from five days ago: He went to Katz's Delicatessen in NYC and shared, "simply the best pastrami sandwich on the planet, pair it with a dr browns cel ray soda and see god."
On a PR level, the partnering of Foursquare and Batali seems pretty brilliant. Batali's a well-known chef who has a general likability, kind of like -- or maybe even more than -- Emeril. Plus, I get the feeling Batali's probably tech-savvy and plugged in. For instance, I get the impression he's definitely more Mac than PC. As far as marketing goes, it's smart, too. Recent stats show "food" is the most popular Foursquare category. Those Foursquare folks must have taken a hint from popular sites that offer dining out discounts, like Groupon and Restaurant.com. It's wise to meet social networking users' obvious interest in eating out, and then go even further with it by offering users discounts to keep doin' what they've already been doing.
While I would still never in a million years share "check-in"s like, "@ the mall!" or "@ my pseudo-mother-in-law's house," I could see myself -- gulp! -- following someone like Batali. After all, I have a hard time resisting a good deal on a gourmet meal!
Would you start using Foursquare to get deals on dining out?
Image via Dennis Crowley/Flickr