Updated below with a response from list founder Alisha M.
Foursquare, the social-networking app that allows you to “check in” to venues, become a mayor, meet up with your friends, and find out which Starbucks locations have been masturbated in, now has a new crowd-sourcing function. In the words of Parks and Recreation‘s Tom Haverford, it’s time to “Treat Yo Self!”
In the recent episode “Pawnee Rangers” Tom (played by Aziz Ansari) explains that “Treat Yo Self” is an annual tradition where he and former coworkers Donna go to the mall and…well…treat themselves. Treating yo self can apply to buying anything from a massage, mimosas, fine-leather goods, to a fully-functioning Batman costume.
Yesterday, a FourSquare user named Alisha M. started a New York list called “Treat Yo Self,” naming NYC’s best spots to get pampered. New York’s “Treat Yo Self” list quickly went viral on sites like Buzzfeed, leading some to speculate that it was part of a Foursquare marketing tie-in with NBC. (Foursquare has frequently collaborated with outside corporations and networks, including Bravo, The History Channel, The Wall Street Journal, and Pepsi to name a few.) However, when The New York Observer asked co-founder Dennis Crowley if this comedy spin-off was part of a promotion, he responded via email: “ha, random user generated content i believe :)”
It’s the smiley face emoticon that sold us. Still, Alisha M. may not be just a “random user.” She describes herself on Twitter as a “social biz consultant & event schmoozer.” Her resume lists her current profession as a freelance writer and social business consultant:
I assist travel networks, start-up companies, social enterprises, and small businesses on content marketing and audience development through marketing outreach, leading events, business development and social media. My strengths here are being an insightful writer, leading marketing and tech research, running community outreach, and providing insight on PR tactics.
So is Treat Yo Self’s FourSquare just a clever crossover hit, or a clever viral marketing stunt?
Update: Just a crossover hit! Alisha responded to us via e-mail (and in the comments):
It was a silly idea I had the other night after having a nice dinner at Tea and Sympathy to create a list of places I go to when I want to splurge. And, being a huge fan of Parks and Rec, I wanted to dub it TREAT YO SELF. I have no affiliation with the show, it’s simply my own homage to the show and of course the city I love.
So just genuine show-love and pampering tips! Go on everyone, treat yo self to one of Alisha’s tips: