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Summary:

Foursquare is working with Zagat, HBO and other high-profile media brands to get a leg up on competitors like Gowalla and Yelp. The partnerships will provide valuable exposure and content as Foursquare tries to differentiate itself in the white-hot location-based social recommendation space.

Foursquare is looking beyond virtual badges to high-profile content brands to give it a leg up on competitors such as Gowalla and Yelp. The company said today it’s inked a deal with Zagat to enable users to access restaurant reviews and recommendations, according to the New York Times. And AdAge reports it’s in the process of deploying promotional campaigns for HBO and Warner Brothers. The moves follow its recent tie-up with Bravo Media as well as a deal with the Canadian version of Metro that will provide users with local news content as they check in. The strategy appears to be about making Foursquare fun AND functional.

The Zagat agreement is a counterpunch to Yelp, which last month continued to take its offering to mobile by launching check-ins for iPhone users. (The friend-finding app Loopt has joined the bandagon, too, adding local reviews two months ago.) And the flurry of new partnerships continues a roll that has seen Foursquare close in on 300,000 users — roughly tripling the base of its rival Gowalla — as it expands to 50 new cities.

The deals will give Foursquare a chance to gain mainstream exposure by opening the door for nationwide cross-promotion through well-known media companies, and will enable Foursquare to continue to gradually introduce sponsors to its users. Most importantly, though, partners like Zagat and Metro bring value to an offering that’s essentially a friend-finding service. Foursquare’s fun, gaming-style service has built considerable momentum — and is the reason it has become Om’s favorite mobile app — but virtual pats on the back and mayoral crowns will only go so far. The addition of valuable, location-based content will be crucial if Foursquare is to move beyond early adopters and into the mass market.

Image courtesy Flickr user cambodia4kidsorg.

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  1. I think the new media deals are great for Foursquare as everyone else jumps in to the check-in game. But, can someone correct me on my math if i am wrong here? At 300k users and 1.2 million check-ins a week, the average Foursquare user is averaging 4 check-ins a week – which means an average user checks in “about” once every other day. What’s the max potential of a heavy user? 8 check-ins a day (starbucks, work, lunch, work, happy hour x 2 places, home, warcraft server)?

    This is hardly a high traffic opportunity. Has anyone checked out a heavy user profile on foursquare? Go look at Om’s profile http://foursquare.com/user/om and do the math yourself. Look at some of the venues and ask yourself how Foursquare is going to bring in $$$ with local hot spots that have 150 check-ins from 87 unique users….yikes.

    1. I think we need to remember that Foursquare is still a small community, Mpfree, spread out across dozens of cities. I can’t imagine myself checking in more than a couple times a week, but the volume will come as it expands its user base. Foursquare hasn’t come anywhere near reaching critical mass, but if it continues to move that direction those check-in figures will skyrocket.

  2. I cannot see myself checking in — ever.

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