Today Foursquare announced that they've hit the 10 million user mark (insert Dr. Evil pinkie-to-mouth gesture here). They've even included a nifty, interactive "infographic" displaying all of the activity over the past few years. While it's a no doubt a milestone to celebrate, it's also a major head scratcher for those asking for a little openness about their metrics.
The gist behind declaring a large number is mostly done to appease two groups: 1. Investors and 2. Advertisers. Here's the problem: Your numbers, much like the issues bloggers ran into before allowing third parties to measure them, are meaningless. Don't get me wrong - it's great that scads of New York hipsters are checking in to H&M and receiving 10% off a multicolored, Made in Vietnam, scarf. It is. It's also grossly misleading to suggest that people have embraced something-- and even worse to suppose that they're a business's most loyal customer.
I'm not doubting the frequency of a checkin -- what I am questioning is the validity of the checkin as it relates to loyalty is akin to a "Like", which as we know isn't the same as "Love". I am also severely questioning why Foursquare flat out refuses to offer up more specific numbers, such as active users (those who've checked in within the past 30 days) unless it's because people aren't sticking with the platform.
A recent audit for a client targeting 35-54 year old females suggests that very few of their customers, including those in Manhattan and San Francisco, are actually using the service. Don't feel bad, Foursquare, they weren't using Facebook Places either. The most commentary on location-based anything related to this business was found on Yelp; no, not in the form of checkins to their stores but as reviews of their experience -- something Foursquare doesn't account for with a simple "I'm here".