Launched in 2009 and with 1.5 billion “check-ins,” foursquare boasts 15 million users worldwide as of January 2012
“foursquare builds tools that help you keep up with friends, discover what’s nearby, save money and unlock deals. …“About Foursqure” Foursquare.com
Foursquare allows users to let their friends know where they are and what their doing by “checking-in” to various places on Foursquare. You can check in from bars, restaurants, movie theaters, sports venues, retailers, parks, museums…anywhere.
Foursquare enables users to earn points, unlock “badges,” and claim “mayorships” that eventually lead to coupons and discounts at businesses for its most loyal customers. Badges are rewards based on a users’ check-in habits. Mayorships are awarded to users with the most check-ins to a place over 60 days. So for example, the Barista Badge at Starbucks is earned for checking into 5 different Starbucks. The Mayor of an individual Starbucks is rewarded $1.00 Frappucino purchases.
Foursquare enables businesses to show timely offers and rewards to users that check in. When the user goes to check in to a place, businesses in the surrounding area that have special offers will be highlighted on the check in screen.
As foursquare has finally moved out of the early-adopter phase and is increasingly being used by the mainstream, small businesses should waste no time harnessing the tools foursquare makes available to businesses that are designed to incentivize participation and purchases and drive customer loyalty. It should become a key element of your social media marketing strategy along with Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, etc.
Here are the top things small businesses need to do to incorporate foursquare into their social media marketing efforts:
1. Claim your business venue on foursquare (Remember, foursquare is a location based service. In order for you to “pop up” on a users screen when they are searching a specific location, you must claim your business on foursquare.)
2. Customize your foursquare venue page
3. Create foursquare check in specials… offers, and discounts for those checking into your business on foursquare
4. Incentivize for loyalty (e.g., provide Mayor Specials) and for frequency (eg, discounts for Every 5 Check-Ins)
5. Integrate your foursquare page with your other social networks like Twitter and Facebook
6. Actively promote and cross-promote your foursquare presence on websites, in-store, on receipts, etc.
What’s great about Foursquare is that it is relatively easy for businesses to manage as it requires no development or programming skills. But, you do need a dedicated manager to continually monitor the page, respond to user activity, manage specials and provide rewards, and track and analyze your page metrics, etc.