This article from TechCrunch talks about a new app that allows you to check-in on Foursquare without even taking your phone out of your pocket. The new app Future Checkin (available for $0.99 in the iTunes App Store) allows users to check-in at their favorite Foursquare spots whenever they are in proximity of the location. Provided you are running iOS4, the app makes checking in that much easier. It's a good idea for those who want to check-in all the time...but is it the most socially engaging option out there? The theory behind this app is "check-in fatigue," an increasing problem among Foursquare users. For users who frequent certain places quite often, checking in every time you walk into that venue can become a tiring task. I can identify with this, after all I sometimes check-in at my office but many times don't even think to pull my phone out and log on. According to the quote in TechCrunch, developer Tim Sears says:
“This app is really designed for people who are getting check-in fatigue, who often forget to check-in to places, or who don’t want to be rude by pulling out their phone in social settings. Who it is not designed for is people trying to cheat Foursquare, so Future Checkin will only check you in to a place once every four hours, and never the same place twice in a row,”
I can totally understand where Sears is coming from and the application theory behind future checkin. With all the automated services for social media out there, this one will be a great asset...for those who want to automate.
Here's my view on it: if you are too fatigued to take the 10 seconds to check-in on Foursquare, why wouldn't I be too fatigued to read it? Scott Stratten (@unmarketing) rants about the automation of social media constantly and I have a feeling he wouldn't be completely on board with this. Great social media efforts rely a lot on engagement with other people. The fact that the need for an app has come to surface that does the checking in for us is showing that Foursquare should be stepping up its game a bit. It's shown explosive growth of late. However that growth has hindered its engagement levels via Mayorships, Badges and points. With more people, some of these features are becoming next to impossible to get.
If Foursquare wants to survive in the long run, it needs to give users reasons to physically interact with their apps and not rely soley on automated check-ins. Automations with no interaction decreases Foursquare's marketing potential.
What do you think?