It has only been a short time since Foursquare was introduced to the social media world, but already businesses everywhere are overwhelmed with how little time and money it takes to embrace Foursquare’s geo-location network, and see great results.
Whether you personally like or dislike Foursquare makes little difference. Foursquare IS a phenomenon, and your business should be taking advantage right now. In March 2010, there were 750,000 users. By July 2010 there were 2 million. And at the end of August users passed 3 million. That’s 400% growth in 6 months.
Foursquare especially creates opportunities for retail businesses (shops) and hospitality businesses (restaurants, bars, clubs, cafes). Even newspapers (eg The New York Times) and other businesses (eg The History Channel) have also been finding beneficial uses.
If you do jump on board, always keep in mind – this is “social” media, not “selling” media. The aim is to talk to your customers and engage them, and focus on what you can do for them – - – try not to sell to them.
Your customers could be using Foursquare, and here are some suggestions below for how your location-based business can use it:
1. Reward Loyal Customers
This was one of the first ways businesses discovered they could reward their Foursquare supporters. Whoever checks in the most over a 60 day period automatically becomes the “Mayor” of that business/ venue. So if a particular customer keeps returning to your business again and again, it really is a great idea to provide that customer with some kind of reward.
Two companies to jump on this concept was Starbucks and Dominos. Starbucks in US quickly created a nationwide incentive, so that mayors receive discounts off drinks. And Dominos in the UK were giving their mayors free pizza.
How much would your business give to reward your most loyal checking-in customer?
2. Run a Foursquare Promotion
Business are even discovering the benefits now of running Foursquare promotions to drive more customers and check-ins to their business. One idea, might be to offer a freebie or incentive for checking in AND buying, like a “buy-one-get-one-free” offer. Or there was a promotion offered by the new Borders Australia bookshops, where on your 3rd check-in you received 10% off your order.
What small incentive could your business offer to have clients returning again and again, and spending?
3. Host a Foursquare Event
You don’t need to be “Intel” to utilise Foursquare for your company events. But users found it great to be able to network with other Foursquare users, unlock special event badges, and give tips and feedback on the event.
You can also partner with other companies that compliment your business, and if customers check in to your business, and your partners, after a certain amount of times, they could be invited to a special company event – a party at a local cafe/ bar, or free tickets to a movie night at the local cinema.
The opportunities extend as far as your imagination.
4. Encourage Honest Customer Feedback
A great way to use Foursquare is for Market Research. By engaging and utilising Foursquare, you can see the tips and suggestions your customers may be leaving on the network about your business. You can even use this to your advantage, and trial a new product or service, and encourage customers to report in Foursquare.
Your customers are talking about your business, and you could be listening, and benefitting.
5. Leverage Word-of-Mouth
Foursquare does not a stand alone in the Social Media world. Social Networking allows for the easy integration of Foursquare into Facebook and Twitter.
Once a customer “checks-in” to your business, this has the potential to be shared with possibly 100s of 1,000s of friends, contacts and followers. This is a form of free referral advertising that money really could not buy. This opportunity needs to be utilised and leveraged for the maximum benefit of your business.
Your place of business needs to display that you encourage your customers to check-in on Foursquare. There are stickers available from Foursquare, or your staff can even mention it. You can even tie-in an incentive to the check-in.
And you should take the time to respond to the reviews and tips your customers leave. And if you accidently happen to get a negative review, it’s best just to apologise and offer to make it up to them, rather than argue. Always keep positive in social media, and then social media will treat you back positively.
6. Maximise Cross-Promotional Mediums
With the rise of the smartphone, and the booming mobile advertising industry, it might be a good idea to incorporate Foursquare in your Mobile Advertising strategy.
You can encourage people to take photos of themselves visiting your business and having fun and text the photos to a special text message phone number. After they do this they will opt in to your own text message rewards club and you can text them additional specials and discounts.
Does your retail or hospitality business stand out? Are you engaging your customers and rewarding them? Is it really possible to grow your business at a fraction of the cost of traditional advertising?
These are questions you should ask yourself. It may be time to start a “Foursquare” section in your Marketing Plan.
Feel free to share your thoughts?