Foursquare this week should break through the 5 million users mark and it has taken about 8 weeks to add an extra million. While Foursquare is still the most popular of the location based social networks (anyone using SCVNGR??) other services are making a better play at location marketing.

Slow down in the rate of new users

The latest RJ Metrics graphic for Foursquare convincingly shows the decline in the week on week growth of new users. Is this something to worry Foursquare? Personally I think activation of new users is less of an issue compared to retention of existing users.

Active users split between the brands they follow & Foursquare followers

Foursquare should be the Number One shoppers network - it has a large enough install base, it has more than 7.5 million locations or stores and it works on your mobile - which is probably in your pocket right now (or you’re reading this on it). So the problem, I believe is that Foursquare users are split between active users who check-in everyday at the stores & brands they love (aka Brand Followers) or they check-in regularly and are interested in their checkin history, earning badges or being mayor (Foursquare Followers).

This split between brand-followers and Foursquare followers must be a real headache for the guys at Foursquare HQ - because it’s the brands and the retailers who are using this for their marketing programmes. And are they believers that Foursquare is good for their customer loyalty or retention? It’s a fact (and by looking on Twitter or Facebook for recent Check-in Messages), you can find people tweeting about checking-in at places they want to tell their friends about. Which is good for the brand-followers and for the brag / show off factor.

Summary - Foursquare needs to differentiate now before location discount coupons take off

As far as 2010 goes, Foursquare will be on the list of brands and services that got peoples attention. The question looking to next year is if Foursquare can find a niche for itself between the giants of Internet - Google and Facebook AND more importantly differentiate itself from Groupon and Vouchercloud. The active users of Foursquare need to understand that Foursquare is more than finding specials for the brands they love to folow.