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Business Marketing with FourSquare

Posted on 6.29.2010

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 Places Launches
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 check-ins. Considering Twitter’s massive audience, this is even more reason for businesses to get busy with Foursqaure. Also, Twitter is releasing API functionality that lets developers integrate Places into their applications.

Your business might already have a Foursquare presence, so search on 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.


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