Foursquare is a location based service, an LBS if you will, which everyday people and customers can use to shine a light on and help promote their favorite businesses. If you are a business owner who has any kind of location based business, so an offline business essentially, you should get on Foursquare and start using it to promote your business. Conversely, everyday people should be using it, as well, so let me explain the incentive for joining on either side of it. Let’s talk about how to use Foursquare for marketing.
How to Use Foursquare for Marketing
How it works: Steve goes to his favorite restaurant which we’ll call Paul’s Bistro. Steve “checks in” via Foursquare using his smart phone, laptop, iPad, etc., that he has arrived for lunch at Paul’s Bistro. Steve has connected his Foursquare account to his Facebook account so that all of his Facebook friends can see this update.
Paul’s Bistro gets free publicity and shining promotion from one of their regular custuomers so that at least some of Steve’s friends say to themselves, “hmm Steve really likes this Paul’s Bistro place, maybe I should check it out”.
Conversely, Steve gets a “badge” which is like a mini online trophy for checking in to Paul’s Bistro a certain number of times. Oftentimes free incentives are associated with earning a badge as a tangible reward for helping to promote that business. Starbucks for example gives away free coffee drinks after you’ve attained certain badges which you again get for repeatedly visiting Starbucks locations. You can think of it in this way as being like a virtual punch card with added bonuses.
By checking in to a particular location more than anyone else on Foursquare, you get an extra achievement as you are declared the “mayor” of that location. Whenever someone else checks in to that location, they’ll see that you are the mayor, so you can easily make friends with other people who share your common interest of that location whether it’s a restaurant, a music venue, etc. All in all it’s a great way to be social, meet people, and support your favorite businesses while maybe earning a freebie of some kind on the side.
One final benefit to mention is that Foursquare users can also be notified once they check in to a certain location of their friends whom they are connected to via Foursquare or other social media services like Facebook if they are close by. So after Steve checks into Paul’s Bistro, he gets an alert that his friend Kevin, who just checked in two blocks away at a nearby Starbucks, is close by and the two can meet up.
The one major criticism which you can make and people have made is that it throws privacy completely out the window. People not only know your exact location any time you check in somewhere, but they also just as easily know where you are not, such as your home. Ultimately Foursquare is a great service, but it’s up to you to weigh that decision of privacy versus no privacy.