Using Foursquare for local business marketing

How Local Business Can Use Foursquare

Companies are starting to use LBS (location-based services) as the new cutting edge marketing to attract a new crowd. The question is whether they’ll pay for the privilege. Or whether Foursquare, which has 400,000 users now voluntarily “checking in” at locations, and broadcasting that to their followers, will transcend its current “it” status among the technorati and become a lasting consumer phenomenon and a marketing tool.

Co-founder Dennis Crowley puts it this way: I think Foursquare found some kind of sweet spot between the:

  • intersection of social utility (Hey, I know where my friends are)
  • sharing/oversharing (I log everywhere I go/everything I do)
  • and gaming/rewards (every check-in gives you a little piece of candy).

Foursquare is designed with these game dynamics in mind, and it’s the absurd appeal of its reward that makes the service so “sticky” for us. ALSO keep in mind each time someone checks in, it exposes your business to all of their followers on Twitter and Facebook as well. That’s over 300,000,000 people.

Foursquare is available in every city (mostly in the U.S.). Right now, the service has a strictly urbanite appeal, and it could inhabit this niche quite nicely. However, if local offers are incorporated in a compelling way as its coverage area expands, it could certainly head towards the mainstream. I can also see people using it just to discover what’s around them, regardless of telling people where they are. “I’ll get sushi at Ki Sushi since Carter P. tells me it’s the best in the city,” or “I’ll hit up an ATM if I go to Trout when D.M. warns that it’s cash only.”

[pullquote]Keep in mind each time someone checks in on Foursquare, it exposes your business to all of their followers on Facebook and Twitter.[/pullquote]Advertisers, both local and national, would be smart to start thinking about their “location” strategies while there’s still a relatively open playing field. By taking advantage of mobile platforms like Foursquare, ones that engage and offer incentives to consumers within the proverbial “last 50 feet,” businesses can bring all the advantages of the social web to their front door.

Startup Foursquare is showing the early stages of what could be some very interesting things for local marketing and fun for its users.

One of the biggest things to leverage for local businesses is using Foursquare “Mayorships” (which you get when you check into a venue the most times compared to others in the city) as a way to give out special deals, like free beer, 10% off your bill every visit or even a free toy for the Mayor’s kid.

That idea continues to expand. I’ve talked with 2 local companies in the Boston area and one is a custom running shoe store that gives out a free pair of sneakers to its Mayor and another Children’s Dentist that could do a free 30-minute teeth cleaning procedure for their Mayor.

Local business using FoursquareAs Amit Gupta noted, a bar/performance space is doing something similar in San Francisco. But they’re also expanding on the idea. Not only does the mayor of the venue get free drinks, but everyone who checks into the venue on Foursquare and shows proof (on your iPhone or other mobile device) gets $2 off a ticket to any performance that night.

While Foursquare didn’t officially sanction this, it loves ideas like this. And it should be obvious why: It entices people not only to go to those venues, but to use Foursquare when they do. The service loves the idea so much, that it’s building support for these types of deals, or “Mayor Bonuses” as they it calls them, into the next version of the iPhone app.

Want to get your business in on this Foursquare bandwagon? Go here and register your company or venue right from its foursquare venue page. There’s even a premade Foursquare sign you can put in your business’s window.

If you need more help with this or any local social media marketing feel free to contact me.

1 thought on “How Local Business Can Use Foursquare

  1. A local brewery offers inexpensive fills on growlers of beer for those that check in on Yelp and Foursquare. Good marketing, and makes it even more fun to go there! I had not thought of using it at places such as the dentist, but will have to give it a shot!

Leave a Reply