When online junkies aren’t burning time on The Swellesley Report, Facebook, Twitter, etc., they’re increasingly likely to be informing friends and strangers (not to mention thieves) of their whereabouts via Foursquare, a much buzzed about location-based mobile phone application that is part game and part useful advice service. One of the games Foursquare users play is visiting a location so often that they become the “Mayor,” a position that is not necessarily as longstanding as that of say, Boston’s mayor.
In Wellesley, you can find Foursquare mayors of everyplace from the dump to the train station to the Wellesley College track and greenhouses to various places of worship to many businesses in town. Anna S. is mayor of several places, including the Yama Japanese restaurant and Whole Foods, while Eric A. has earned all sorts of Foursquare badges and is mayor of Dunkin Donuts on Rte. 9 in Wellesley along with dozens of places in other towns. We attempted to touch base with a couple of mayors, but neither apparently was a Man of the People.
One Foursquare angle is to try to enlist businesses to exploit the application to encourage customer loyalty and generate chatter about the businesses. We’re still at the early stages of this and we haven’t seen many businesses in Wellesley doing much here, though Wellesley Dental Group (a social media enthusiast) has offered a free comprehensive exam to Foursquare users. Starbucks in Wellesley Square offers the mayor of its store $1 off a special beverage (yes, classic political backscratching).
If you haven’t tried Foursquare yourself it’s easy. You just go to the site and download the app onto your mobile phone, regardless of whether it’s an iPhone, BlackBerry or whatever. Foursquare says it has over a million users and the company is getting lots of attention from other companies, including Google and Yahoo, the latter of which was recently rumored to be interested in buying Foursquare for $100 million.