Personal Branding Tips: How Foursquare Affects Your Personal Brand


Foursquare is one of the newer social media sites that is growing quite quickly in popularity. It allows you to “check in” wherever you are (restaurant, shopping, museum, etc). It can connect with Twitter and Facebook so you can let all your friends know where you are and maybe offer up some good tips on the great things about that place. Since Foursquare is yet another social media outlet that reveals more information about you (where you are, what time, etc.) it is most definitely a personal branding tool for those who use it – whether they want it to be or not.

While there are benefits to Foursquare (you earn points for your check-ins and can earn “mayor status” if you check in to a place more than any other person), I have been toying with it for a few weeks and have not really seen much benefit other than just having a bit of fun with it.

I have it attached to my Facebook account, so at best it has created some fun conversations about some of the places I have been. Many venues offer discounts or freebies to Foursquare Mayors but I have not received any of these perks as of yet.

On the Personal Branding side, what it does do is let others know what type of places you go, how often you eat out (people are starting to wonder if I ever eat at home!) and things you like to do. On a basic level, if you regularly use it, it shows all your friends and followers how you spend your free time.

Why Does My Employer Care About What I Do On My Own Time?

From a Human Resources perspective, I started wondering – if an employee or prospective employee is using Foursquare, wouldn’t it be great to get that kind of insight into their life?  Maybe it can help explain performance issues.  This could also be incredibly handy to use as yet another means to measure candidates in a job search.

As a candidate, are you at the bar until last call every night, or at the museum and library?  Hmm…

As an employee, what if you called in sick and then checked into a movie theater that same afternoon?

If you are an outside contractor (or other field employee who is entrusted to work outside the office) and you are checking into venues when you are supposed to be working, you are just begging to be fired.

The scary thing is that an employer need not actively seek out this intelligence. If an employee connects his or her Facebook or Twitter account to Foursquare, coworkers who do not even use Foursquare can start chatting about their adventures, and gossip travels at the speed of light!  What employees and job search candidates need to be aware of is that simply “checking in” to any one venue can speak volumes about your life without you saying a word.

Are There Privacy Options on Foursquare?

Foursquare does offer “off grid” check-ins, where it does not publish your whereabouts at all but you still get to reap the benefits of the points and other awards. Users can also choose to not publish individual check-ins on Facebook and/or Twitter. There are privacy settings that can and should be used if necessary to maintain a good image.

Foursquare can paint a very vivid picture of your life – good and bad- but only if you let it. It can build up a great personal brand for you or it can seriously cause your credibility to be questioned. It is definitely one more place where keeping your online image in mind is the key to creating a quality personal brand.  Just remember:  As you’ve probably read countless times here, don’t put anything online you don’t want your boss finding out about, because at some point they probably will.

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Jessica Simko is a seasoned senior level Human Resources professional with over 15 years of experience in all facets of Human Resources Management.  She is a Freelance Writer and  Entrepreneur specializing in career/ life coaching and social media.  Connect with her on:

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7 Comments

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  1. 1
    Keith McIlvaine

    Awesome post and topic Jessica! I feel the same way about Foursquare (an earlier post from my blog http://su.pr/1S9GZx) and about the real value behind it. It is interesting to play with but what can it say about you, you are dead on point with this. Foursquare is great if you are traveling to a conference and want to meet others bur for the day-to-day life, it can be way too revealing. Just like the (former) web site, pleaserobme.com, tried to convey how outrageous it is to always tell someone where you are. Yes, one might argue both sides of this but for me I still have not completely bought in.

  2. 2
    jessicamillermerrell

    I have written a post with a different take. Employers also need to realize that employees can check into any location at any time and post it to their profiles without actually having been there. Any company that fires or reprimands an employee for checking into a location on foursquare and gowalla without having conducting an full-blown investigation, verifying time cards, or video is putting themselves at risk.

    This problem will be more common place so it is even more important for HR pros to understand how to use and the interworkings of these tools.

    Jessica

    @blogging4jobs

  3. 3
    Keith McIlvaine

    Great point Jessica. Employers really need to be certain before taking action based upon social media. The thing with Foursquare and Gowalla is that you have be be in a fairly close proximity to check into a location while a service such as Yelp allows you to provide feedback at anytime regardless of location.

    HR will certainly need to adapt to the new media methods and do so fairly quickly!

  4. 4
    Jessica Simko

    Great point Jessica! But yes, you do need to be within close proximity to check in. And if you check in without even being there, that raises other issues. How would a person explain why they checked in somewhere without being there without causing credibility issues? Wow… so much to consider…!!

  5. 5
    Jessica Simko

    Great point Jessica! But yes, you do need to be within close proximity to check in. And if you check in without even being there, that raises other issues. How would a person explain why they checked in somewhere without being there without causing credibility issues? Wow… so much to consider…!!

    Sorry.. I think I initially replied in the wrong place!

  6. 6
    Jessica Simko

    Great point Jessica! But yes, you do need to be within close proximity to check in. And if you check in without even being there, that raises other issues. How would a person explain why they checked in somewhere without being there without causing credibility issues? Wow… so much to consider…!!

  7. 7
    Jessica Simko

    Great point Jessica! But yes, you do need to be within close proximity to check in. And if you check in without even being there, that raises other issues. How would a person explain why they checked in somewhere without being there without causing credibility issues? Wow… so much to consider…!!

    Sorry.. I think I initially replied in the wrong place!

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