On Election Day, Foursquare users who checked in at a polling place received a 3 point “civic duty bonus.” Last year, users received a badge for doing the same, but it appears that, in the time since, Foursquare’s team has determined that points are a more valuable commodity among users than badges.
I like the quote from Foursquare’s biz dev guy, Eric Friedman that PSFK used in their brief post about it:
“Especially with voting, it’s a way to put a stamp on something you did, and say, ‘I did this, and it’s what I’m all about.’”
I like it because it reminds me of something I once heard danah boyd say and have since repeated about a thousand times.
Back in the 2008 election, the mainstream media mused over whether or not the candidate who had the most “fans” (it was the days before “likes”) on Facebook would be the next President of the United States. It turns out he was, but in her post election analysis, boyd—who is an expert on young people and online social networks—discovered that many of the young people who were fans of Obama were also fans of Hillary Clinton and Ron Paul. In other words, becoming a “fan” of a candidate on Facebook may have had less to do with their allegiance to that individual candidate and more to do with a desire to present themselves to their peers as politically aware or engaged and, back in 2008, not a fan of the Republican establishment.
“I did this, and it’s what I’m all about.”
It’s something we think about when we’re considering the role—if there is one—of Facebook in our clients’ social web strategy. We’re inclined to think that many—if not most—users “like” a cause or an organization because they want to communicate something to their network about who they are, not because they have any intention of taking an action on its behalf.
Cynical? Maybe. Realistic? Probably.