When you think about promoting your business on social media, you often visualize the primary six platforms: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google +, and Instagram. Even as a social media marketer, I tend to focus a majority of my attention on these social networking giants− pushing content to where I assume I will get the most reach and interaction. But when I’m off the clock, I’m constantly using certain apps to organize my life and to help me make decisions. One of these resources is Foursquare, and although it receives less attention from marketers and businesses, it is one of the most useful mobile applications on the market.
Foursquare is a location-focused mobile app that allows users to “check-in” to places of business using their phone’s geo-location software. When you visit your favorite restaurant, a local spa, the gym, or a bookstore− you tag yourself there, and then share your location with Foursquare, Facebook, and Twitter friends. Not long ago, I thought this service was simply an enabler of narcissistic over sharing on its best day, and a stalking-for-dummies tool on it’s worst. However, like most trends I’ve tried to ignore, curiosity eventually got the best of me− and now that I’ve checked-in, I won’t be leaving for a while.
As an individual user, I find the mobile application efficient, user-friendly, and entertaining. Once you add some friends, you can see the restaurants they are trying out and then add them to your “To-Do list.” I have even searched out businesses based on my location, read reviews and tips, viewed images, and chosen where to shop based on the experiences my friends have had. From the application’s Home page, you can “explore nearby” and seek out food, nightlife, coffee, shopping, sights, and art. You get points for checking in, and even receive badges like, Local | “Sometimes you want to go…where everybody knows your name…You’ve checked in at the same place three days in one week”. People can be dubbed “mayor” of a place they frequently visit, and then others can dethrone the mayor and take his or her spot.
The app has become somewhat of a game, and over 25 million people are playing. The witty and sarcastic musings written by the app developers make me snicker, and the deals I get for checking in are the reason I keep coming back. And that is where businesses on Foursquare benefit from being on the platform. As a business owner, you can offer people coupons and discounts for checking in at your establishment. When users’ friends see where they are checking in to eat, shop, work, and play they are influenced to do the same based on recommendations from people they trust.
There are over a million businesses on Foursquare currently, so it’s not an application you can ignore -, it’s one you need to master in order to build your customer base and reward your most loyal customers simultaneously.
Claiming Your Location | In order to get started you need to claim a physical space. Your venue is your business’s home base on Foursquare. Once you’ve downloaded the app, attempt to check in by searching for your business, and assuming it isn’t listed, select the plus sign that allows you to “Add this place.” Next, you will be asked to list the name of your business, the category it falls under, (i.e. Arts & Entertainment, Food, Professional, Shop & Service) and the exact address. The main categories will break down into more options, for instance, ‘nightlife spot’ offers subcategories like bar, beer garden, cocktail bar, dive bar, etc. It is important to give as much relevant information in each field as possible to help inform your current and potential customers, and to give them everything they need to communicate with you or your business. Finally, your company must be verified by Foursquare in order to finalize the process. You will receive a code to confirm your location and then you must pay a $10 fee to process your venue claim.
Updates and Promotions | Sending updates from your venue on Foursquare is a feature that allows you to send company news to a user’s feed about specials, coupons, deals, announcements, and other relevant information. Fox example, you can use this opportunity to offer customers something special while keeping them connected with news about upcoming events. Another feature for business owners is the Promoted Updates option, which allow a business to pay to have their local updates promoted in the Explore tab. It’s a new and exciting way for businesses to choose which updates deserve an extra push for maximum exposure.
Foursquare Check-In Specials | Offering specials to your patrons will keep them coming back, and these deals are a fun way for your customers to earn rewards whilst spreading awareness about your delicious food, innovative product, or unique service. Some businesses have used a Flash Special “The first 10 people who check in after 8pm get 25% off their order,” while other benevolent and tempting offers include a free cupcake on your first check-in. Chili’s offers a free order of chips & salsa upon check-in, and as a loyalty special, they offer a free dessert on every 3rd visit. When you’ve checked into a business more than anyone else in the last two months, you are granted
Mayor-ship of that location, and many businesses offer a mayor special which grants 20% off the entire bill. This kind of deal in particular encourages loyalty and rewards returning customers. Many businesses use a combination of these various specials to reel in and satisfy clientele. Use local updates to promote your specials on Foursquare, and also remember to update Facebook, Twitter, and all of your other social networks in order to spread the news about your special.
Add Tips about Your Company | People visiting your business can leave their opinions about what they’ve experienced. They are even promoted to leave tips about places they’ve checked into in the past, leaving the opportunity for both positive and negative feedback. When a user checks into a place for the first time, a different user’s tip flashes on the screen. The tips that appear atop the list of feedback are the ones with the most likes from other users. The goal behind ranking the tips is to boost the relevant and truthful ones to the top. If you add helpful tips about your location using a company page, you can share your strengths and highlight the human side of your business. Leaving a tip about your famous secret sauce, your employee of the month, or the most convenient parking location are all examples of how you can help your customers get the most value from your Foursquare presence.
Let Users Know they can Check-In | Integrate Foursquare into your website and social media profiles by adding the plugins and buttons below. Doing this is the best way to connect your audiences and boost your following. The unique aspect of Foursquare is that it’s connecting your actions in the real world to your actions online. Don’t forget to leverage calls to action at your physical locations in order to
encourage, communicate and support your company’s presence on Foursquare.Be sure to display window stickers or signs to remind people to check in at your business. Reminding your customers to use Foursquare will help drive them into your place of business more often, leave tips, and become more active with your company on the platform.
One of the main reasons people do not use the apps they’ve downloaded is because they forget. Dozens of apps wax and wane; they get our attention for a while, and then like our winter wardrobes, we get rid of them to make space for something new (well in California at least). But Foursquare offers a one-of-a-kind ingenuity, and its developers are constantly updating and adding new features to the service. Every business should be using this mobile app in order to build a loyal client base that will work with you to increase your presence and profit.
By Sasha Novikov | Creatine Marketing