Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Why Yelp Should Be Afraid of Four Square

Four Square?  No one uses 4square but a bunch of geeks.  True that may be but it is a growing bunch of geeks and that is why I finally decided to try it out.  I still don't love the tool but I'm getting used to it.  But like all technology, I try it out to see how I can apply it in my business or how it may change the dynamics of other technologies.  In the case of Four Square, I doubt I'll use it too long, but for now it's interesting.

The most interesting part of Four Square to me is the loyalty from it's user base.  People are constantly checking in and competing to be mayor for areas.  So I asked myself, as I usually do, "how will they ever monetize this?"  It didn't take me long to see a great opportunity.

YELP.COM is a service getting a lot of attention right now, both good and bad.  I personally don't trust or use YELP but others do and some day they will get their act together.  But unlike YELP, Four Square has loyal customers who regularly tell the service where they are in real time.  Adding businesses across the country and nearly proving they are visiting the business.  It isn't hard to imagine how Four Square will add the ability to properly rate (as opposed to the current SHOUT feature) the business you are at.  Then, they monetize that information for people who aren't Four Square users but want to see what the most active users who ACTUALLY VISIT (no bribery issue like YELP) the places think of the places.

For me, I'm already more inclined to use information from Four Square than I am on YELP.  For millions of others who haven't heard of it or don't understand it yet, they will.  So YELP either needs to do something drastic to compete, buy Four Square before it is too late, or go by the wayside as the new kid on the block gains momentum.