If you’re not already familiar with location-based social networks, Foursquare may be worth a look. The web/mobile application allows registered users to “check-in” at businesses, restaurants and other venues via their iPhone, Android or Blackberry device.
As users check-in to a venue, their friends and connections on Foursquare will see that activity and can click on the link to learn more about the business. In addition, users also have the option to post their check-ins to Twitter and Facebook, further increasing your visibility. A single check-in by one user can very easily be seen across several social networking sites by virtually limitless people.
Playing the Foursquare game
Foursquare offers three game-like elements for users:
- Users earn points for check-ins. The more check-ins recorded, the more points earned by the user.
- Users earn badges for accomplishing various tasks.
- If a user checks-in to a venue more than anyone else on separate days, he or she gains the title of “Mayor” of this venue. Only one user can hold the title of Mayor.
These game-like features are incentive for users to meet new people, discover new places and do something they’ve never done before.
How should my business use Foursquare?
- Make sure your business’ information is accurate. Head to Foursquare and do a quick search for your business and review the information listed. If your business is not listed, add it free.
- Encourage customers to “check-in” with a promotion. I’ve seen in-store signs that offer small discounts for check-ins and special deals for the current Mayor. Promotions can also be added via Foursquare once you claim your business.
- Each venue has a to-do list. Add some items on the list you want customers to complete. Users can also add their own tips and to-do items.
- Keep an eye on your stats. Foursquare allows business owners to view usage statistics, which can help improve your business’ performance.
Foursquare is very forthcoming about how businesses can use it to interact with customers and attract new ones. More information is available on their business page.
Is Foursquare the next big thing in social media?
With 1.3 million users, Foursquare is still considered small potatoes (Facebook has more than 400 million users), but has grown 45 to 50 percent each month. The social network also has numerous competitors including, Gowalla and Google Latitude. There also are rumors that Facebook is looking to add a similar service. In short, it could go either way, but for now it is a fun new way to drive business.
One final tip:
The ability to gain the status of Mayor is part of the fun for Foursquare users – aka your customers. Give them a chance to become Mayor: make sure you and your employees do not check-in at your own business!