Mike Hanbery August 23, 2010

Denver Social Media: Foursquare for Business – What, Why and How

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I’m sure by now you have heard of Foursquare, and know a lot of people using it.  If you’re anything like me, you have yet to get on Foursquare, and are unsure as to why you would want to in the first place….”Why do I want people following me around knowing where I am every second?”  Well, I’ll tell you why…

What is Foursquare
Foursquare is a service that allows you to “check-in” to different locations you visit, using your phone.  You can check into pretty much any location – bars, restaurants, parks, golf courses, museums, grocery stores, you name it.  You can also see where your friends have checked-in, and get tips from other users on what to do at those locations.

Foursquare for Business
While on the outside it may appear to be just a fun tool to log where you are, see where others are, earn points, win Mayorships and unlock badges for trying new places and visiting old places, but it can also be a very useful business tool.  On the business end, you can use Foursquare to actively engage your increasing group of mobile customers with Foursquare “Specials”.  These specials are prized and other discounts you are able to offer to your customers who are loyal and check in via Foursquare at your venue.  You will not only be able to reward frequent customers, you can also track the analytics on how your venue is performing over time, with their set of venue analytics (this is free.)

Foursquare Promotions
Foursquare provides an entirely free self-service tool set that allows you to create a variety of specials, manage these different specials, and then track how each of these specials perform.  Some of these customizable specials include:

  • Mayor Specials – This is a special that can only be unlocked by the Mayor of your venue.  The Mayor of your venue is your single most loyal customer (the user that has checked in the most often in the last 60 days.)  There can also be special specials for the person that is deemed the Mayor!
  • Check-in Specials – This is a special that is unlocked when a user has checked into your venue a certain number of times  (ie – get a free meal on your 10th visit)
  • Frequency-based Specials – This is a special that is unlocked every X check-in.  (ie – Receive 10% off your order every 5th visit)
  • Wild Specials – These specials are always unlocked, but your staff must verify extra conditions that must be met before awarding this particular.  (i.e. – Show your Foursquare Swarm badge and get a free drink.)
  • More to come

How are your specials promoted?
There is a Specials platform right on the Foursquare app for the iPhone, Android, and Blackberry.  As well, Foursquare actively calls attention to those venues offering Specials.  For instance, if there is a user that has checked into your restaurant, Foursquare will alert them what to do in order to unlock a free/discounted drink.  In fact, the user doesn’t even need to check-in to be alerted.  If they happen to be just a few blocks away from your location, they will be alerted that your business is giving Specials at that moment, and that they should stop in to take advantage of the opportunity.

Getting Started
The first step to participating in Foursquare as a business owner is to get on Foursquare and claim your venue.  This is basically saying that a particular location is “your” location.  Once you claim your venue, you can check real time stats on your venue, including:

  • Most frequent visitors
  • Most recent visitors
  • Times of day that people checked in
  • Total number of visitors (unique visitors)
  • Chart of check-ins per day
  • Gender breakdown of customers that checked-in
  • Percentage of check-ins that broadcast their location on Facebook and Twitter

Location Logging Not Going Anywhere
While you may feel that Foursquare is a “here today gone tomorrow” trend, this is not the case.  This is evidenced by the fact that last week, Facebook launched its own location logging functionality, with Facebook Places.  Launched August 18th, Facebook Places allows users to share their location with their Facebook friends and followers, and find new hot spots by following the places that have been visited by the people in their network.  While Facebook Places has nowhere near the functionality of Foursquare, increased functionality is on the horizon.  It has not yet been confirmed how Facebook Places will eventually integrate with Facebook’s business pages, it is undoubtedly in the works.

What to Do Now
The fact that Facebook has now started Facebook Places is a sure sign that this is a trend that will be here for a while, and one that you should learn about, and eventually utilize for your business.
• If you’re business is not on Foursquare already, claim your venue now.
• If you have claimed your venue, utilize the service to draw users to your business in creative new ways.
• If you are doing this, start using Facebook Places now, and familiarize yourself with its capabilities, and be ready for ways to incorporate it into your business page.

The tough part is of course coming up with creative “specials” to use with Foursquare.  What are some creative specials you have come up with for your business?

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