I noticed something subtle about Foursquare’s language when you share a check in.
I was not with 4 others. In fact, when they told me (in app) that 4 others were at Philz at the time, I clicked through and those were really just people that had checked in within the past few hours (and were no longer really there).
1. extending the period of time that someone is considered “there” and checked in somewhere
2. broadcasting a check in as if I was “with” others in the sense that I was actually hanging out with those people (which I wasn’t; I was by myself when I checked in)
Foursquare made itself seem even more popular than it is, to me the user AND to the people to whom this update was broadcast.
If the time period to be “checked in” were only, say, 30 minutes, then I would not have seen the exciting “6 people are here” facepile.
Instead it would have looked more like this, if only 1 person were there that recently.
Blank squares? Sad. Would have been even sadder if the element were hidden and there were no faces, as it is when there are no recent checkins at all.
Also, to people reading my update, it seems like I’m super social. So most Foursquare updates make it look like people are hanging out with others, and there’s some element of social proof. If it didn’t say “w/ 4 others”, it wouldn’t be a huge psychological loss. But seeing “w/ 4 others” helps convince others that this app is in heavy use and is fair to use in a real-life social context with other people IMHO.