Facebook Check-in vs. Foursquare Check-in

Comparing and contrasting the brand value of a Facebook and Foursquare check-in

First, here are a few observations we've made from analyzing Foursquare and Facebook check-in data for the better part of two years:

The people who check-in on Facebook and Foursquare are distinct groups. We see very little overlap. As one example, at SXSW last year, Foursquare dominated during the Interactive portion. The spike from pre-SXSW went through the roof, while Facebook barely changed. When the SXSW Music portion started, Foursquare dipped and Facebook spiked, suggesting more mainstream use by Facebook.

People check-in on Facebook and Foursquare for different reasons. We've observed this in the check-in patterns. Foursquare check-in activity is much more consistent. People check-in on Foursquare as a daily habit, which leads to less erratic patterns. With Facebook its more event driven. Facebook Check-ins tend to be more celebratory in nature. As such, we see larger spikes on the weekends when people are out.

Understanding the Fundamental Differences

Understanding these fundamental differences will help brands to make the most of these valuable customer engagements at the point of sale.


What is a Facebook Check-in? Why do people check-in on Facebook?

User Motivation:
  • Sharing with all friends
  • Capturing a moment for Timline
  • Redeeming a Deal
Brand Value:
  • News Feed distribution
  • Anonymous customer insights: different equation for people who actually come into a store vs. Liking a Page
  • Sponsored Stories
  • Communicate with Fans (assuming Like)
  • Tracking and segmenting customer spend via Deal redemptions


What is a Foursquare Check-in? Why do people check-in on Foursquare?

User Motivation:
  • Sharing with local friends
  • Gaming: Points, Badges, and Mayorships
  • Redeeming a Special
Brand Value:
  • Foursquare "Friends" Feed: Emphasized quality and relevance over quantity.
  • Twitter and Facebook distribution: The Foursquare Check-in that is pushed to Twitter and Facebook offers maximum reach.
  • Explicit customer insights: For local businesses, regardless of whether they are part of national chains, frequency is perhaps the most important KPI.
  • Increase referral potential in Explore: Quite simply, the more check-ins you have, the more prominent you'll be in Foursquare Explore search results.
  • Tracking and segmenting customer spend via Special redemptions
  • Direct feedback about customer experience (Tips & Photos)
  • Ability to communicate directly with customers on a one-to-one basis (coming soon)