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The Power of foursquare: A book review by Bob Morris

The Power of foursquare: 7 Innovative Ways to Get Customers to Check in Wherever They Are
Carmine Gallo
McGraw-Hill (2011)

“Foursquare and seven ‘innovative ways’ ago….”

Frankly, I did not know quite what to expect when I began to read this book, except that Carmine Gallo may perhaps develop some of the concepts he discussed in an earlier book, The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs. Moreover, until then, I knew nothing about the foursquare organization. As Gallo explains, “Foursquare is a social media tool that businesses of any size can use to tell their stories and engage their customers in an innovative way…Users sign up for an account by visiting” At this point, I need to point out that Gallo does not provide instructions for an easy process that takes about two minutes nor is his book an operations manual. Rather, presenting his material within a framework of seven innovative “ways” (strategies, actually), he can help any reader to take full advantage of the ever-expanding, ever-increasing opportunities that foursquare offers.

“For users, the free foursquare Smartphone app allows them to ‘check in’ to a location and to share that location with friends. It’s also a game. Users who check in earn points, badges, and rewards for exploring their cities. It makes their world a more interesting place.” How so a game? “Because it’s meant to be fun…People like collecting virtual badges that have no meaning except bragging rights. For example, a user will unlock the ‘superstar’ badge for checking into 50 different venues or the ‘crunked’ badge for checking in to four different venues in one night. It’s silly, right? But millions of people around the world are having a blast paying the game. Foursquare is a game. It’s meant to be fun. Play along.”

Personally, I dislike audience participation and have no interest in playing online games to earn badges that have no meaning except bragging rights. However, I am among those who are eager to attract, retain, reward, and (yes) delight my customers. That’s what makes foursquare appealing to me. Gallo devised an acronym, CHECKIN, for the seven strategies to achieve those and other objectives and devotes a separate chapter to each:

1. How to Connect your brand with “Connection Superstars”
2. How to Harness new fans with “Newbie Ringleaders”
3. How to Engage your followers with “Superusers”
4. How to Create rewards with “Super Mayors”
5. How to Knock out the competition with “Swarm Masters”
6. How to Incentivize your customers with “Local Heroes”
7.  Why you must Never stop entertaining with “Crunked Kings”

Sure, some of the nomenclature is goofy but so what? Under Gallo’s expert supervision, each reader will learn how to make effective use foursquare capabilities. Keep in mind that the smartphone app is free, can activated in about two minutes, and offers substantial benefits to almost any user, whatever the size and nature of the given enterprise may be. Well-known brands that have active foursquare partnerships include American Express, Chili’s Bar & Grill, McDonald’s, NASA, 7-Eleven, Starbucks, and Walmart but as Gallo demonstrates throughout the book with dozens of examples, family-owned businesses can also achieve great success with their foursquare association by attracting, retaining, rewarding, and (yes) delighting their own customers.

Gallo concludes this amazingly entertaining as well as in formative book with a rigorous review of “10 Pitfalls to Avoid” (Pages 231-239) followed by his interview of Dennis Crowley, foursquare’s CEO and co-founder. I presume to conclude this brief commentary with an observation of my own: Ultimate success with foursquare will ultimately depend on effective innovation and effective presentation. In my opinion, the person best qualified to provide the best advice in both areas would be Steve Jobs but, in his absence, the next person best qualified would be the author of The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs and The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: Carmine Gallo.

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Bob Morris is an independent management consultant based in Dallas who specializes in high-impact knowledge management and accelerated executive development. He has also reviewed more than 2,200 business books for Amazon’s US, UK, and Canadian websites. Each week, we will add to the Networlding Business Bookshelf abbreviated versions in which he discusses a few of his personal favorites. To contact him directly:

Melissa G Wilson

Melissa has been a leader in the book writing, publishing and marketing arena for the past two decades. To date, she has helped more than 100 thought leaders write, publish and market their books. Her clients include executives such as Dan Weinfurter a seven-time Inc 500 winner and Orlando Ashford, President of Holland Cruise Lines.

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