Mike Hanbery May 16, 2013

Social Media Marketing: Using Foursquare for Business

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In August, 2010, we told you Foursquare was for real. In January of this year, we told you Foursquare was a top free mobile app for your business and that geo-targeting of social media marketing—using tools like Foursquare–was a top marketing trend for 2012. Today, we’re telling you Foursquare is hyper-local marketing that appeals to the human brain in ways humans don’t totally understand.

Brand consultant Martin Lindstrom recently penned in the New York Times that a vibrating smartphone is the third most powerful affecting sound in the world, behind baby giggles and the Intel chime (which was, ahem, developed by marketers). Intel Labs, in a joint study with the Helinski Institute of Information and Technology, confirmed what we’ve all suspected—that smartphones are habit-forming.

One reason for this, according to The Economist, is the “relentless rewards” smartphones provide.

Whenever you check the glowing rectangle, there is a fair chance you will see a message from a client, a hero-gram from your boss or at least an e-mail from a Nigerian gentleman offering you $1m if you share your bank details with him.
Foursquare appeals to all of these psychological and biological facets.

For those who are new at this: No one in Nigeria is trying to give you money. For those who still aren’t convinced about Foursquare and social marketing to a targeted local audience, here’s a rundown of tactical benefits for incorporating Foursquare into your marketing plan:

  1. The link. Foursquare’s high Domain Authority score means having your business’s information on it is beneficial for your Website’s search rank provided that the information you provide about your business is consistent with other listings on the Web. For example, to a person, Webolutions and Webolutions, Inc. are the same thing, that distinction may confuse a Webcrawler. It is best to determine character-specific systems for company information—Will you be Suite 120 or Ste 120?
  2. Exposure. With a click, Foursquare users can share their location, activity, pictures, comments and tips to Facebook and Twitter. This “social reach” generates word-of-mouth activity. What do you do there? Why do you go there instead of other, similar places? Perhaps the greatest potential benefit of social media marketing is the opportunity to spontaneously generate referral business. People who know and trust each other learning of common interests and asking for opinions and recommendations.
  3. Tips. Allowing customers to share tips with each other enhances the experience of your business. It also provides opportunities for you to see your business through their eyes, identifying areas of strength and opportunities to improve. (Like most other Internet listings, one needs not be a business owner or employee to create a listing on Foursquare. The nature of, “user-generated content,” places few restrictions on, “user.” The choice for businesses is not whether or not to allow online conversation, but rather the degree of engagement.) Example: A tip at my local grocery is, “The salmon is fresh on Tuesdays.”
  4. Opt-in marketing. On a spring break family road trip, I “checked in” at Backfire Barbecue in Kansas City. Their Foursquare Check In Special was five bucks off the bill. Long story short, we had a good experience (ask me about it sometime). Two weeks later, after I had told several people about Backfire, I received a “friend” request over Foursquare from the restaurant—and enthusiastically accepted. So now this restaurant has paid five bucks one time to have a lifetime connection with me—and I have made a conscious decision to allow it.
  5. Networking. The most fundamental user benefit of Foursquare is, “Who’s Here Now,” which displays pictures and first names of people who are checked in at the same place as the user. Need an icebreaker? “I saw you checked in on Foursquare!” (It is strongly recommended that you not jump immediately to, “Do you have life insurance?”)

In addition to the “hooks” provided by online social networking in general, Foursquare keeps its users engaged by awarding:

  • Points for each check-in and plotting the user’s score on a leaderboard. It seems cute and uninteresting until you see your buddy’s name above yours. Then you’re hooked.
  • Badges. For example, the “Gym Rat” badge is awarded when you check in at the gym five times in a week. Notes commemorating such achievements are humorous; “Your body thanks you! Except for your biceps. But they’ll get over it.”

What This Means to Your Business
We are experiencing what The Economist recently called, “the third Industrial Revolution.” Manufacturing is personalized. The use of Internet tools and 3D printers allow individuals to customize products to their individual liking. Everything in the world is becoming—irreversibly—customized to the individual. Your marketing must acknowledge this. One of the simpler ways to start is with location-based marketing.

Let your customers say, “We’re here now,” and put your business in a position to let them help you grow.

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