Foursquare, the popular social networking
and activity application, recently announced
that more than 700,000 “check-ins” are
taking place every day. That’s a lot of activity
and it’s all centered on businesses and
brands — an opportunity not to be missed.
So, what is Foursquare, and how can it
help your business?
In its simplest form, Foursquare works like this:
Consumers launch the app from their phones (or via
SMS for non-smartphones), then check in to a business
when they arrive. By checking in, consumers can
see if any of their connected friends are at the same location
or nearby, share and discover insider tips about
the location and earn points. Points are accumulated
and badges earned, then used to assign a status for
the individual, with the top point-getter being
crowned “Mayor.” What this does is create a community
— an active and competitive community —
around the business itself. Users are engaged and encouraged
to visit the location time and again. Essentially,
Foursquare helps drive foot traffic, branding
and create consumer advocates.
The Foursquare Community
Foursquare users are brand advocates by their very
nature. Of course, they might not think of themselves
that way — in their minds they are satisfying
their own egos. But that satisfaction is derived vis-avis
the business being patronized.
The goal of every Foursquare user is to become
Mayor of their favorite local businesses — restaurants,
night clubs, golf courses ... just about anything. To do
this, the user must check in from the location itself.
So, the more they frequent a business, the better
chance they have to become Mayor. Of course, there
are other reasons for people to use Foursquare and
make a run at Mayor other than simple ego stroking.
And that’s where the businesses come into play.
Foursquare for Business
If you knew that a certain person was a fan of your
business and was perfectly willing to encourage his
friends to become fans too, wouldn’t you want to
reach out to that person and make absolutely sure
that they kept coming back? With Foursqaure, this is
precisely what you can do.
One of the most popular and effective ways for
businesses to use Foursquare is to offer real-world rewards
to their business’ Mayors and other frequent patrons. For example, a restaurant can offer a free
cocktail every time a user checks in, delivered right
through the app. Or, perhaps the free cocktail is offered
after every fifth visit, encouraging repeat business.
The possibilities are only limited by your
imagination and perhaps your budget. Also, remember
the Mayor. Be sure to offer the best deals to that
individual. Not only will this encourage advocacy, but
also create a competitive spirit around the title. It
might just start some rivalries where the only way to
get ahead is to frequent your business.
Twitter has announced
the release of Twitter
Places — the ability to
geo-tag tweets on the
fly and from a browser.
In addition, Foursquare
and Gowalla users can
integrate their accounts
with Twitter Places. So,
if you click on a Twitter
Place you will also see
audience, this is even
more reason for businesses
to get busy
with Foursqaure. Also,
Twitter is releasing API
functionality that lets
Places into their
Your business might already have a Foursquare
presence, so search on Foursquare.com to find out.
You will find a link to “claim” your venue. From there,
get started setting up your specials for users. Business
owners can also promote their Foursquare presence
in-store — the website offers downloadable PDFs and
can send official window clings for display.
Foursquare can bring a significant increase in traffic
and, ultimately, sales to any brick-and-mortar business.
And Foursquare is about to reach even more
users. In June, 2010, The Wall Street Journal started
providing “add-to-Foursquare” buttons at the bottom
of restaurant reviews and other cultural coverage.
When a user clicks the button, the venue mentioned
in the article is added to a to-do list on the user’s
Foursquare account, along with a tip written by a WSJ
editor and link to the original article. It’s a safe bet to
assume that WSJ will not be the last major media outlet
to promote the service.
In the end, the service offers a built-in community
that is eager to engage. Help your customers
check in, then check out.