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Q&A with Chris Thompson, founder of ‘About Foursquare’

In April, Chris Thompson launched the blog About Foursquare with the intention of covering his favorite geolocation service. As a marketer for an Ohio manufacturer, Thompson has both a personal and professional interest in how brands and companies can make use of social media. He talks to DMNews‘ senior editor Rose Gordon about the potential of Foursquare.

DMNews: Why a blog about Foursquare and not just social media in general?
Chris Thompson: I tried all the different location-based services… and Foursquare just interested me a lot more, and it looked like the one that was going to grow and take off.

DMNews: Why do you use Foursquare and what are some of your favorite features/uses of it?
: I like the game play aspect of it, the badges and the mayorships, but what I really like are the tips where you can go out and see what other people have said about a venue. I’m planning a trip to Columbus, Ohio, and I’ve been looking at the tips and adding a list of “to dos” so I’ll be reminded of them when I get there.

DMNews: Foursquare hasn’t faced the same privacy flaps as Facebook, besides perhaps the humorous Please Rob Me feed. Why not?
: From the very beginning you have the assumption that your location data is going to be shared. That’s the whole purpose of the site, so I don’t think they’ll have the same depth of privacy expectations at as say Facebook. If you don’t want to share it with the world, don’t check in there.

DMNews: Are they monetizing the service fast enough?
: I think they’re on the right track to doing it. They’ve grown faster than anyone expected them to. They’re working hard to expand their opportunities for businesses, for advertisers and for some of the large brands. They’re ramping that up, and I think we’re going to see some exciting things coming up.

DMNews: What are some of the biggest opportunities for brands on Foursquare?
: As it stands right now, I think sharing information, getting your branded tips out there and then badges are incredibly useful for brands. That’s the thing that fours users tend to get most excited about I’ve seen. Everyone loves to get that digital candy. It’s nothing but pixels on a screen but it’s a great opportunity for brands to get their branding out there in a unique way.

DMNews: Who is doing it well?
: I really like the Dew Tour partnership, sponsored by Alli sports. It’s a national tour of skateboarding, BMX. They’re doing some tips on each place they visit, including specials and they have badges that go along with it. They’re really using the full gamut of things there. I also really enjoy what The Wall Street Journal is doing there with tips and the check-in shouts that they do and the badges.

DMNews: Geolocation is such a hot marketing topic right now. Do you have any predictions about what’s next?
: Geolocation adds so much context for advertisers. Google AdWords was popular because it put you in front of someone who was searching for a particular thing. Now geolocation has the ability to put an ad in front of someone who knows what they’re doing, where they’re doing it. It adds so much context to their advertising, and I think we’re going to see expansion of that. There are so many opportunities for it to expand.

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