Using Foursquare in Local Government

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Foursquare. It’s just a vanity publishing tool that takes over your Twitter stream and Facebook feed right? OK, I’m as guilty as the next Foursquare user for checking in to the pub at lunchtime and telling all my Twitter followers, but Foursquare can actually be a pretty useful tool for giving visitors and residents useful information about their surroundings.

As well as being able to check into places and see where your friends are, Foursquare also allows you to leave ‘tips’ about venues for your friends and followers, so when they check into that venue (or one nearby), they’ll see this tip. I’ve left a couple of tips on my personal Foursquare account (mainly plugging nights I play at, or calling out bad service at restaurants), but I’ve always thought Foursquare tips could be really useful for our tourism team, highlighting special offers and also giving historical titbits of information about places in the district.

I never really knew how to get started with a Foursquare page until I read Joseph Stashko’s post on how he added a Foursquare page for Blog Preston. I’ll leave you to read Joseph’s explanation on how he got set up, but needless to say, the sign up process is a little bit convoluted (To be fair, Foursquare say they will be changing this soon).

That said, once I’d filled everything out, got our designer to design a header and sent it all off to Foursquare, I was up and running within a few hours (together with a nice personal response from a Foursquare staffer).

You can now see the results on the Visit Lichfield Foursquare page. I’ve added a few tips in and around Lichfield City with historical information that I know about personally, together with a few special offers, and I’m looking at getting a few more tips added after talking to our Green Badge guides (who know much more about Lichfield’s history than me) before launching the page officially (bizarrely, we already seem to have 600+ followers without doing any promotion, mainly people from Indonesia and New York).

However, it’s not just tourism that Foursquare can help with, I’d love to develop something like, which uses public data on food safety inspections in New York to warn you if you’re about to eat at a place with a poor hygiene report, and if you’re a council with a lot of venues, you could leave tips about upcoming events or special offers. The only limit, as they say, is your imagination!

If anyone else has any useful tips on local gov using Foursquare, I’d love to hear them - drop me a line in the comments.