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What’s the deal with foursquare?

Before you dismiss foursquare as just another social media application you couldn’t possibly get your head around, we thought we’d give you a run-down of what it’s all about so you can decide if it’s of any use to your business.

What the heck is foursquare?

Foursquare is a mobile application for your phone that essentially is a ‘social media game’ but can actually be used to help your marketing efforts, especially if you work in retail or hospitality (more on this later).

The idea is, whenever someone visits a location, like a particular shop or café, they ‘check-in’ to that location. The person, who ‘checks in’ to a certain location the most, becomes the ‘mayor’ of that place.

Confused yet?

Why would people use foursquare?

When someone ‘checks in’ to a location they can see if any of their friends have been there before, or are nearby at that time. You can use foursquare to give suggestions like ‘If you’re at X café, try the chocolate milkshakes, they’re amazing.’ Or if you’ve checked into a shop you might receive a notification that a bar a street away has great, cheap pub meals.

It becomes a fun, competitive game to become the ‘mayor’ of the most places possible.  This is where businesses are jumping on board and offering incentives for people to come along to try and become the ‘mayor’ of their business.

A coffee shop may offer free coffee to the person who becomes ‘mayor’ of their shop so it encourages people to remember to ‘check in’.

Options for businesses

Not only can you encourage people to ‘check in’ to become the ‘mayor’ of your business but you may wish to offer deals to people to get them to ‘check in’ more regularly.

For example, the 5th time someone ‘checks’ in to your clothes’ shop they get a free scarf with their purchase, or the 3rd time they buy a sandwich from your takeaway shop they get a free drink.

To get things rolling, you may even offer ‘check in’ deals for people the first time they ‘check in’ to your business on foursquare. There are also wildcard specials that your staff need to verify before the user can claim their prize.

You can tailor these offers and start using foursquare to drive customers to your business and foster customer loyalty.

Good tips

Foursquare is a great portal for customer feedback and word of mouth, as more people start using foursquare, more and more people will be checking to see if friends have visited your business previously and what they had to say about it. It’s a good incentive for making sure your customer service is up to scratch.

We also recommend having physical signage in your store to encourage people to remember to ‘check in’.

Before jumping in and using foursquare, as with any marketing strategy, think about your objectives and what you want to achieve by being active on this social media. There is no point creating ad-hoc offers for your ‘mayor’ if you don’t know why you’re doing it.

The early days

It’s still early days in terms of where Australians are at with this social media application and there are bound to be updates and improvements over the next few months where we will see new opportunities for businesses outside of the retail/hospitality sectors.

So keep your eyes peeled for new information and as with all social media, the best way to understand it is to set up a personal account and learn as you go. Have fun!

About the Author

Catriona Pollard is director of PR and social media agency, CP Communications which provides specialist media, traditional and online PR strategies that achieve positive media coverage, increased brand awareness and improved sales results.

Website: www.cpcommunications.com.au Blog: www.PublicRelationsSydney.com.au Twitter: http://twitter.com/catrionapollard

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  • http://www.stubbornmule.net Sean Carmody

    My brother just got back from the US, including a visit to New York. He came back saying that foursquare made a lot more sense to him over there, with so much going on.

    • http://www.razchorev.com Raz Chorev

      Sean, could you please expand on that? What did your brother see over in the US, that he can’t see in Australia?

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