Swarm Brings Back Foursquare Mayorships, But Is It Too Late?

Mayorships are back... if you're still using Foursquare.

If you stopped using Foursquare last year when it spun off most of its popular features, to a second app called Swarm, you weren’t alone. But it looks like Mayorships, Foursquare’s signature feature, is now back. But will the return of Foursquare Mayorships be enough to bring users back to the social network?

De-Gamifying Foursquare

Last year, in a strange move, Foursquare Labs killed all of the gamification aspects that compelled people to regularly use the app to “check-in”. Things like badges and “mayorships” were all gone and check-ins were moved to a separate app called Swarm. The trimmed down Foursquare just became a location “discovery” app similar to Yelp. Yuck. The fun of Foursquare, the heart of the app, the core of the entire platform was… dead.

Everyone Hates Swarm

Not only did Foursquare Labs, creators of Foursquare and Swarm, kill all of the gamification features that made the app so popular, like Mayorships, but the two app experience was incredibility annoying. It was enough to make you want to throw your phone out a window.

The changes were not popular with longtime users and resulted in droves of Foursquare’s 45M users abandoning the platform. Myself included.

People stopped checking-in everywhere they went, multiple times a day. And fewer check-ins meant less app screen exposure to sponsored messaging, advertising and more importantly, fewer opportunities to generate revenue. It’s hard to run a business without money.


Foursquare hasn’t officially announced user numbers since 2013, but a quick look at AppAnnie’s ranking data for Swarm’s iOS app speaks for itself. Foursquare and Swarm split in July 2014. In the 12-months since then, the app went from one of the top apps in the iOS store to barely a blip in the top 1,500. swarm-rank

The Return of Foursquare Mayorships & Gamification Features

What a difference a year makes. Foursquare Labs is finally bringing Mayorships back and making check-ins count again. Unfortunately, badges are still missing, but more “stickers,” which users can optionally add to check-ins, photos, and messages, will be added to the platform.

Can Foursquare Labs Recover?

Will Foursquare Mayorships and stickers be enough to win back users that checked out after the Swarm/Foursquare split? As a Dodgeball user (Foursquare’s predecessor also created by Dennis Crowley), I’m definitely happy to see the gamification come back to the platform. But the two app experience and the fact that most of my friends stopped using the service after the split, is still keeping me away. Why should I check-in if no one I know sees it? For me, the return of Mayorships may be too little, too late.

Kevin Rose made a disastrous decision when he re-launched Digg in the summer of 2010 and alienated its core user base. Digg went from being one of the top sites on the Internet with a valuation of $164M to only $500k. Foursquare Labs made the same mistake alienating its core users with Swarm. Can they recover? Time will tell.

What about you? Are you, or were you, a Foursquare user? What do you think about Swam? Have you checked out?