Back in the fall of 2010, foursquare hit a phase where they tried to promote healthy activities by awarding badges. The badges were linked to third-party health monitoring companies like RunKeeper, Health Month and, later, FitBit. When users completed the required activities, the badges would automatically be applied to their foursquare profiles.
That health kick officially ends next week when foursquare discontinues their third-party health badge program. FitBit and Health Month have both confirmed that their badges will end on June 1. Presumably RunKeeper’s badges will meet the same fate (we’ve reached out both to them and foursquare but neither has responded).
The badges were incredibly popular among foursquare users and did help to encourage some healthy habits. The RunKeeper badges got me to run my first 5K, while FitBit’s helped me choose their activity tracker over those made by competing companies. I enjoyed finding new ways to rack up steps every day until I earned the 20,000 step badge (sadly, it disappeared on a flight in March).
One big weakness of the badges, though, was that they didn’t do much to encourage users to keep finding ways to take those 20,000 steps or run another 5K, since you could only earn each badge once.
In the case of Health Month, the foursquare badges helped to get the fledgling service off the ground by raising awareness. Founder Buster Benson said in a blog post:
I wish to thank Foursquare for partnering with us in the first place. It definitely helped Health Month grow when it was just a wee babe.
Health Month later had problems with foursquare badge jumpers abusing their system just to get the badges and restricted the higher level badges only to paying customers.
With the end of the program drawing near, you now have a week to get any of those badges from RunKeeper or FitBit that have eluded you (including, strangely, the recently launched FitBit 1,000 lifetime kilometers badge). Go run a marathon this weekend and you might be able to kill two birds with one stone! Health Month’s May session has already begun and it’s too late to join, so you won’t have another chance to earn their badges.
Foursquare isn’t completely done with healthy badges. The new Olympic Day badge helps to encourage exercise and there’s always the Gym Rat badge to help you get out to the gym. Hopefully foursquare will continue to explore new ways to encourage healthy activities that still fit in with their basic mission.
What do you think of the loss of the third-party health badge program? Did it encourage you to become more physically active?