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ONE of the first articles I wrote in this column was about Foursquare, then a rather new geo-tagging application.

The app basically allows users to ”check-in” at a certain location they are visiting. When you check-in, you are awarded ”points” — you get one point for every location you check-in at in a day (two points for the second check-in, three for the third and so on).

You also get points if you’ve visited a location for the first time, or if the location is not yet listed in the system.

At the same time, you can also accumulate badges. You can get the 16 Candles badge by checking in and wishing someone a ”Happy Birthday” (you are able to ”shout” — leave general messages — to your Foursquare friends in the app) or the Gym Rat badge by checking in at a venue tagged ”gym” at least 10 times within 30 days.

If you have checked into a particular location more times than anyone, you are then declared ”Mayor” of that place.

Foursquare users in Malaysia are on the rise. Foursquare country ambassador for Malaysia Harinder Singh said: ”Based on statistics from early July, there are over 3,000 active users in Malaysia and more than 80,000 check-ins each week.”

That said, many people still cannot see the point of such an application. The badges have no particular value (other than boasting rights among friends) and neither do the points (besides outdoing other Foursquare users).

For Harinder, it adds fun to moving about.

Foursquare users gathered in Damansara Uptown to celebrate Foursquare Day and participate in a scavenger hunt.

Foursquare users gathered in Damansara Uptown to celebrate Foursquare Day and participate in a scavenger hunt.

”Previously, you just went on with your routines. With Foursquare, I find myself going out on weekends to add more badges, visit more restaurants and collect points to compete with other users,” he said. ”I also use it as a tool to tell my friends where I am at and what I am up to. It adds the element of gaming into our boring dull life.”

Other people have found Foursquare features, such as ”Tips” to be extremely useful. Users are able to add tips to locations for the benefit of other users checking-in at the same location at a later time.

Among tips many users have included are what are good food choices at restaunrants, nearby stores that one might want to check out or even horror stories, like discovering a cockcroach in dishes at a food outlet!

Now, Malaysian users have another reason to get on Foursquare. Harinder, together with a few other active users like Hakim Albaswary, Fiona Rachael and Ikhwan Nazri, recently introduced KLSpecial.

They are mobilising social media users — in particularly those who use Foursquare — to encourage businesses to join in the ”fun”.

Their aim is to get businesses to reward Foursquare users (who, in a way, eventually become their frequent customers to maintain their mayorship or to get more points) with special offers.

This idea is not new. Many business in other parts of the world — the United States in particular — have already adopted this idea.

Now, Harinder and co are hoping to get Malaysian businesses to jump on the Foursquare bandwagon.

”We all got together and talked about how to improve Foursquare in Malaysia, and how to make everyone more location aware,” Harinder said, explaining how the idea came about.

Hakim came out with the idea of using videos to spread the word, with the hopes that they will go viral and attract the attention of businesses.

In the two weeks since KLSpecial was introduced, two food outlets in Selangor have already come on board.

mBuji Cafe at Sunway Giza in Kota Damansara offers a free espresso for every four check-ins from a user, and Craft Brews in Mutiara Damansara is treating Foursquare users to a complimentary bottle of craft beer for every fifth check-in (only for dine-in).

This is not the first Foursquare project Harinder and his friends are working on. A couple of months ago, they organised a scavenger hunt using the Foursquare app in conjunction with World Foursquare Day.

For more information on Foursquare, log on to http://bit.ly/KLSpecial or e-mail special@4SQKL.com.

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