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New York-based social network Foursquare now sends notifications proactively with version 7.0

Job­bing social media man­agers would prob­a­bly agree that Den­nis Crow­ley cuts an inspir­ing fig­ure; the founder of New York-head­quar­tered loca­tion-based social net­work Foursquare, he dreamt of the day when he had the means to auto­mat­i­cal­ly send users noti­fi­ca­tions giv­ing them ideas on where to shop, where to eat or what to see depend­ing on where they hap­pened to be.

How to real­ize a dream

But he had a big prob­lem: in 2009, when Foursquare launched, users had to “check in” to the smart­phone app every time they want­ed inter­est­ing tips about their loca­tion. When a cou­ple of years lat­er he exper­i­ment­ed with a new app that would send noti­fi­ca­tions auto­mat­i­cal­ly, he found that it drained smart­phone bat­ter­ies. Cre­ative social media man­agers can iden­ti­fy with his frus­tra­tion: great ideas some­times hit the buffers because the tech­nol­o­gy isn’t there to deliv­er them.

But then Crow­ley tapped the tal­ents of two bril­liant minds – his lead engi­neer Anoop Ran­ganath and his data sci­en­tist Blake Shaw – and set them to work on solv­ing the prob­lems. And they did: a suc­cess­ful pilot for a new Ran­ganath and Shaw-built ver­sion of Foursquare over the last cou­ple of months cul­mi­nat­ed in the launch last week of the Foursquare 7.0 app for iPad and iPhone, offer­ing users those loca­tion-based “pas­sive noti­fi­ca­tions” just as Crow­ley imag­ined. And it doesn’t kill batteries.

Ear­ly success

Com­pa­ny research sug­gests it’s pay­ing off. Users are not only inter­act­ing with the new app 60 per­cent more fre­quent­ly than ever before, they are spend­ing 30 per­cent more time on it as well.

The new app also comes with some visu­al enhance­ments – the most use­ful infor­ma­tion now appears right at the front of the alert image. By far the most pop­u­lar alerts are in the “when you get there” cat­e­go­ry – like when a hun­gry social media man­ag­er walks into a restau­rant. The app will send a noti­fi­ca­tion sug­gest­ing the best dish­es, often based on what friends have already tried.

The days when users just checked in to Foursquare sim­ply to show their friends and oth­ers where they were are over, and Crowley’s very hap­py about it.

As he puts it:

“You real­ly had to know how to use Foursquare to get all the val­ue out of it. The best ver­sion of Foursquare is the one that you don’t have to remem­ber to use.”

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