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: