There was a time when no matter where you went, you told the world about in on Foursquare. Well, maybe not you, but millions did. Then Facebook offered its check-in feature, and Foursquare became redundant. Just one more once-popular social app to suffer a precipitous fall from grace.
But, according to press reports, Foursquare refuses to go down without fighting. The firm has announced a major leadership shift. Co-founder Dennis Crowley will step down from CEO duties, handing those over to COO Jeff Glueck. Crowley will move into an executive chairman role. Steven Rosenblatt, a long-time (for social media anyway) Foursquare executive will become the company’s president.
Foursquare may have been a victim of its own success. Blasting onto the scene back in 2009, everyone loved telling everyone else where they were with a simple click or two. Users humble-bragged about concerts they were seeing, brunches they were having, and walks in the park or on the beach. They let everyone know who they were by sharing where they were.
The app became so popular that competitors Facebook and Instagram immediately began working on their own version. As soon as those launched, Foursquare began to see a drop in usage.
In an attempt to staunch the bleeding, Foursquare divided its services into two apps, one for restaurant reviews and the other for check-ins. Well, users saw that as a step backward. They already had plenty of ways to review restaurants, and they didn’t need a separate check-in app. Perhaps that’s why Foursquare’s most recent valuation was half what it had been at its zenith.
There are a few lessons here. First and foremost is this: consumers are fickle. If you are doing the something and someone else comes along doing the same thing, many will try the new thing just because. If you can’t find a way to offer more value or a better experience, then you can expect to get left as the consumer transitions to something considered both “new” and “better.”
It’s a constant reality of commercial life. If you are doing a good job at something people want to pay for, someone will come along and try to do it better … or, at least, different enough to steal some of your market share. So, here’s a question, both for you and for Foursquare: what is your unique value proposition, and how are you communicating that to your current and potential customers?