The White House makes a move for another social media presence
President Obama just joined Foursquare, but you probably won't see him checking in to dinersaround Washington D.C. In fact, he won't be checking in anywhere. He isn't even the mayor of the White House — that honor goes to Foursquare user Aya M. with 41 check-ins. The nature of the White House's new special account on the geocentric social network will emphasize offering "tips" from his travels rather than real-time reports of his whereabouts — a fact that's sure to keep the Secret Service happy.
The White House's first Foursquare tip comes from Hannah's Bend Park in Cannon Falls, Minnesota, the first stop on President Obama's so-called "rural road trip." At the park, Obama fielded questions about agriculture, job creation, and healthcare from an audience of roughly 500 people.
Foursquare is a free, location-based social network that encourages you to use your smartphone to "check in" to the places you encounter in your day-to-day jaunts. Just about every location imaginable is on Foursquare these days, from your local pizza parlor and the public library to historical landmarks. The service is naturally very focused on users engaging through its mobile app, which is available for a broad range of phones.
By checking in on Foursquare, you can broadcast your location to friends on the network, leave reviews and tips for other users, and accrue points that lead to "mayorships" — the ultimate calling card of the regular customer. Many businesses now partner with Foursquare to couple promotional deals with a check-in, and the service has reportedly exploded with 3,400% user growth in 2010alone.
Obama's introduction to Foursquare comes just after the service announced Tip Lists. The newest addition to the feature-packed service lets users curate lists collecting the check-in wisdom they've gleaned around town.
While Obama is unlikely to contribute to Foursquare's Hipster Coffee Shop list, you will be able to follow him on the campaign trail. According to the White House blog, Foursquare is just one more way to plug in to the re-election campaign, and you can keep abreast of "the places President Obama has visited, what he did there, plus historical information and more."
President Obama — and his sizable staff of social media ghostwriters — have established a robust online presence over the course of his presidency. From YouTube and Twitter townhall meetings to his new Foursquare account, Obama's campaign for reelection has a big virtual footprint. Still, it must feel strange to be the nation's top elected official without so much as a single Foursquare mayorship.