Just after Gowalla started getting some nice press for their campaign activity, Foursquare fought back by acquiescing to Jordan Raynor’s suggestion and creating an “I Voted” Badge. Foursquare is also hosting an “I Voted” website, which will track polling place check-ins nationwide.
As Foursquare looks to cement their lead in the location-based network game, it’s a wise move to become involved in politics. But there’s a danger in entering the political space to “encourage civic participation”; Generic get-out-the-vote efforts simply can’t match the passion of a hotly contested election. A non partisan GOTV worker might knock on your door and encourage you to get to the polls by citing the need for participation to support Democracy; a partisan GOTV effort will tell you why the world might just end if you stay home and let evil win. Which is more likely to encourage action?
By engaging with campaigns, Gowalla’s political strategy fuels the more effective of these two methods and encourages market expansion. The “I Voted” concept is a good start, but Foursquare will have to continue to expand and integrate with individual campaigns to continue its dominance of the location-based social network market.