Foursquare announced a new feature today: Tips Lists. Users and brands on the service are now able to bundle together sets of tips about places into thematic lists. Any user can make Lists, the interface for doing so looks quite helpful and simple, multiple users can collaborate on a List and followers receive notifications whenever a new Place is added to a List they follow. It's a good feature that offers List creators a powerful way to build relationships with users as a trusted tour-guide for their niche interests.Location based social network
Want to get a push notification any time you check in to a place near one of Anthony Bourdain's favorite restaurants? I bet you do. Want to know when you're near where one of the Jersey Shore stars went to high school? Hey, I'm not going to judge. The best I've seen yet? Ben Popper's Visitors Guide to Silicon Alley (NY)
Foursquare already knows what kinds of places you like to go to often and now on your user profile page, it offers automated suggestions for you to build Lists of your favorite bakeries, bookstores or restaurants. Wisely, even if Airports are among your most-frequented spots (I know that's true for many of us), it appears that only logical places to recommend appear by default. Automated suggestions for lists is smart. It's easy to create lists of your favorite places with or without using the automated suggestions.
The List creation interface is really well done. It uses autocomplete, privileges places you've checked in before, recommends related places and allows you to re-order lists with drag and drop. I made a list called Portland for Art Lovers in less than five minutes. I'd love to spend more time on it and really build out something I could be proud of and that other users could get a lot of value from.
It would be nice if photos were automatically suggested from around the web to illustrate the tips you put in a list. That's what Next Stop, a fabulous and beautiful Place List service acquired last year then killed by Facebook, used to offer.
I would also really like to see a list of Recommended Lists I should follow. Foursquare knows what I like and where I go - if there are good Lists created that could serve me well, I hope the service will alert me to that.
Bells, whistles and open public editing (right now only friends can edit a list) are all in the works, the company says. "This is Lists 1.0," says co-founder Dennis Crowley, "there's a lot of bells & whistles still in the works."
There's a whole lot of potential here. Imagine the power of being reminded regularly that a person or an organization focused on an interest of yours recommends a place just around the corner from wherever you are. At launch most of the Brand lists seem sparsly populated and really spread out. I think this feature is going to work best when it's densely populated.
Alexia Tsotsis points out a great example of a wonderful list, assembled by Foursquare's Tristan Walker, of the 30 restaurants around the world with the best views. Walker asked on Quora and crowdsourced the list. That's clever. I've never checked in at any of those places, Foursquare says.
I've loved following The History Channel on Foursquare and getting tips pushed to me when I'm near any of the 1440 places that account has left a tip on - that's the way to do it! Now with the new Lists feature, a big body of knowledge like that could be segmented. Dear Nature Conservancy, if I'm particularly interested in marine mammal protection, it would be great to be able to follow a List of tips just regarding that topic, for example.
Of course whenever the fabulous Foursquare creates a new feature, it's worth asking how many people seem to be using it. The Nature Conservancy, for example, has almost 4,000 follower but has only posted 3 tips.
Will users sign up to follow Lists? Even with a user experience so well-created, will curation of topical items be something a large number of users are interested in doing? Foursquare is a service that's seen broad media coverage, narrower use and relatively shallow engagement over time. I love it, but I'm not convinced a large number of other people will. We'll see - maybe this Lists feature will help.