Foursquare's Location Layers: what they are & why you should be interested in them

874 thumb.jpgSince the Foursquare app took off last year, the location-based social network has been a geek darling and founders of the network have been expressing dark ambitions about world domination (explanation of Foursquare here.)

As a step towards world takeover, and providing richer user experience, the network announced location layers in a big statement yesterday. But what the damn hell are they and what do they do? Here’s our quick guide.

So I thought Foursquare was all about location anyway? Why is there this extra thing called a location layer?

Well. It’s not the location bit that’s new, it’s the layer bit. A location layer is just a collection of locations curated by a brand like say, the Huffington Post which has one or the Independent Film Channel, a quirky American film channel. The layer will act like a brower window almost letting you see the world through the lens of your chosen organisation.

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Brands eh?
Yes, brands. This is all about brands.While before on Foursquare individuals would tag places they went to and liked, now brands can do it too. The location layer lets the brand choose places that match its values and ethos. A person walking around can flip open the Independent Film Channel layer in say, Boston, and see all the places that the brand has flagged up. Perhaps independent cinemas or something.

And why would brands or business want to do that?
Well it’s all about greater engagement with your audience isn’t it? The Independent Film Channel polled its members about their favourite places to get their chosen locations.

Walking the brand, seeing the brand in your streets?
Yes, you know, I guess it’s a bit like a brand making a little travel guide for you, accessible on Foursquare.

So you could go to a coffee shop recommended by your favourite TV channel?

Err, yes basically, though when you put it like that it sounds sort of weird. It’s not just brands though – it could be newspapers, environmental organisations, local councils… there are lots of opportunities for location tagged data and Foursquare is providing a nice platform for it here..

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Anna Leach