Checking out of 4sqATL

It was about this time five years ago, when rumblings began on Twitter from a few folks in Tampa about trying to create a one day celebration dedicated to a relatively new social application. It was decided that the upcoming April 16th would be the perfect date for this to happen. Because math. I was following this conversation closely, having already started using the app in my day to day comings and goings. Sure enough, a week or so later, the folks at Foursquare officially endorsed the idea to bring Foursquare Day to life. “Someone should plan a party to celebrate here in Atlanta”, I thought. Since I only knew of a handful of regular users, there weren’t many folks running around to step up. “Guess that’s me”. And it was. At that point, the first geographic specific Foursquare user community was created. A model that would eventually be emulated by hundreds of cities around the world.

2012 4sqDay

2012 4sqDay

Purchasing this domain and creating the Twitter/Facebook accounts was the easy part. Here I was looking at just over 2 weeks until the 16th to not only plan an event, but find businesses to run one day only check-in specials to celebrate. You have to keep in mind, five years ago claiming your business venue to run a check-in special was a manual process that involved working with Foursquare directly. Businesses today are spoiled with the easy to use instant automated process. This site was quickly thrown together simply to house the party information and to aggregate details on the businesses running specials that day. The latter was important because it was impossible to claim a venue in that short of a window so the only way a person would know about a Foursquare Day special (beyond the businesses themselves promoting them) was by checking this site. With the help of some friends, a venue for the party was secured and promotion began. The response from companies wanting to run deals that day was overwhelming. All of them had questions about the app. So now on top of party planning, I’m running a local free customer service operation too. All in the name of a fun Foursquare Day. Buzz about Foursquare continued to grow with the upcoming first of its kind social media holiday, as well as hype about the event here in Atlanta. The big day arrived. Around midday, this site broke because it couldn’t handle the traffic of folks checking for lunch deals (it was fixed and quickly scaled). That night, we gathered at Cheyenne Grill – now Whitehall Tavern – for the main event, one I hoped would draw about 25 people quickly grew to over 100. Many of the people at the event checked in for the very first time that night, downloading the app as they arrived. Quite a few others checked in for the first time at a participating business that day just to redeem a special. Mission complete. Or so I thought.

It wasn’t long before Foursquare usage continued to grow and more people and businesses had questions about the app; centered mainly around claiming venues, running deals, and how to find deals. It seems ridiculous to think about those items being questions as all are easily doable today, but back then it was much more difficult to accomplish the tasks. So I decided I would continue to maintain the site and social channels as a way to help promote those businesses who were using the app to offer specials and conversely to inform users about those business offerings. I would also help filter global Foursquare news and information to relate it specifically on how it impacts Atlanta users. I wasn’t really thinking about how long this would last, only that it was providing a resource at the time which made people and businesses happy. Plus, it made Foursquare more enjoyable for those using it – myself included. As we all know, the more folks who engage with it, the more enriching the experience is regarding venue tips, businesses participating, and check-ins from friends in our feed.

2013 4sqDay Proclamation

2013 4sqDay Proclamation

 

Planning the annual Foursquare Day party continued for three more years. The parties getting bigger and better each year. From the rooftop pool at the W Atlanta to SweetWater Brewery takeovers to a live band at 5 Seasons. Sponsors, giveaways, free food and drinks. Even received official proclamations from the Atlanta City Council naming that day as Foursquare Day in 2012 and 2013. The documents from both years were framed and sent to the Foursquare offices in New York City (2012) and San Francisco (2013) to be displayed on their walls.

Do I have a favorite Foursquare moment here in Atlanta over the past five years? The 4sqDay parties are all certainly at the top of the list, along with the Super Swarm party at SweetWater, partnering with the East Atlanta Beer Fest, and the Super Swarm day at Dragon*Con. But there is one evening that will always be my favorite Atlanta Foursquare moment: Hothlanta. Yep, the snow storm of epic proportions (literally) that took down the city of Atlanta for about a week in January of 2011. The snowstorm hit that evening when everyone was at home waiting for the impending blizzard. As soon as the flakes started to fall, the “hype venue” was lit up. You know the ones I’m taking about. They happen regularly now with every major storm related event. Well back then, it wasn’t as overdone as it is today. The check-ins slowly built over just a couple short hours. Swarm. Check. Super Swarm. Yeah no problem. But wait…is that a…yes it is. Super Duper Swarm! First venue in the southeast to hit 500 check-ins. Hold on folks, we’re not finished. Not even close. The chatter on Twitter was in a frenzy. Check-ins too rapid to follow in the app. Everyone waiting. Watching. Hoping. Would it? Could it? Then it happened. The notifications on Twitter flooded feeds. The Epic badge had finally been unlocked. Not only was this a first for the southeast, it is a feat that has never been repeated. You could almost hear the cheers through the Twitter conversation. Had Vine or Instagram video existed at the time, there certainly would have been actual cheering coming through the screens. The tips and the photos over the next several days were both hilarious and beautiful to see. This venue not only set Foursquare history, it helped create the name many media outlets used to reference the storm in their broadcasts. Being the Star Wars fanboy that I am, not gonna lie…it made me smile.
2012 4sqATL Giveaways

2012 4sqATL Giveaways

 

So here we are in 2014. Just a few short weeks before the fifth Foursquare Day. And the time has come to check out of 4sqATL. As you’ve probably noticed on this site and the social channels, content has been fading. I even asked the 4sqKennesaw group owner to step in and assist with some social posts (thank you for that Dwayne) to help fill some of the silence. Don’t get me wrong on why I’m leaving. It’s not because I stopped using the application or no longer believe in the company’s importance to the location based social media space. Far from it. I will continue to use the app, just as I have been for the past 5 years. This is a personal decision based on available time. Nothing more. Nothing less. I started this website and social channels to plan a single party. That was it. What grew from there was something I couldn’t have imagined and I’ve enjoyed every bit of this journey. But all journeys have stopping points before a new journey can begin. I’m at one of those stopping points. This was never designed to be a job and I was never paid to do what I did here. I did it because…well, I did it just to do it. I’ll cherish all of the memories from the events and online conversations, and even the friendships this community brought me. My sincerest hope is that you all can say the same. That this community made your Foursquare experience richer in some way. Large or small. More enjoyable.

The friends I’ve made and the lessons learned have had a significant impact on my life both personally and professionally. And for that, I thank you. All of the 4sqDay host venues, the sponsors, volunteers, and attendees who helped make those events a success, I can’t thank you enough. You all made those annual high points happen and without those anchors, this community wouldn’t have existed. If you’re an Atlanta business who ran a special or maintained a brand page over the past five years and even continue to do so today, I thank you. Specials help drive usage from individuals and good branded tip content make the app enjoyable. If you were a part of creating a badge, I thank you. Badges are fun. Sure it’s no longer the core focus, but seriously. They’re fun. Personally, I was involved in a couple and they’re just as much fun to work on as they are to unlock. To those folks I worked with on those various badge initiatives – especially my co-workers at NASA, I thank you. And if you’re still reading at this point, I thank you too.

As I mentioned already, I will continue to use the app and I’m always available on Twitter to chat about Foursquare LBS related things…and other random stuff. I will no longer monitor the 4sqATL channels, so if you’d like to continue to keep in touch please use my personal accounts which are listed below. I’d love to hear from you there and continue to build upon the relationships we forged here through this community.

I have said this many times over the years and I truly mean it: Atlanta has the most vibrant and supportive social media community in the world. And not just on Foursquare. We saw this during the recent ice storm with the SnowedOutAtlanta FB group created to help those in need. Through charitable efforts like the Giving Kitchen. Frankly, there’s just too many to list. You may realize this or you may not. You’re a part of something special in the Atlanta social space. In the truest sense of the word, a community. Thank you all again. For everything.

-Chad Elkins