Foursquare – whats the big idea?

I’ve been reading alot about Foursquare recently and whilst its not something that has appealed to me on a personal basis yet (sadly i do not own an iphone, for shame) it is something that interests me in terms of business use.

“As a business owner, you can use foursquare to engage your increasingly mobile customers with foursquare “Specials,” which are discounts and prizes you can offer your loyal customers when they check in on foursquare at your venue. Don’t forget to show extra love to your venue’s Mayor! Additionally, if you offer foursquare Specials to your customers, you will be able to track how your venue is performing over time thanks to our robust set of venue analytics — for free!”
Source: Foursquare Business.

Sounds great, but is it really that easy? Carry on reading and you’ll find one of those magical things called a list, explaining how a business can use Foursquare.

  1. Foursquare for Word of Mouth
    We should all be aware by now just how important positive word of mouth is. People don’t trust adverts anymore, they trust their friends and colleagues.
    When a user ‘checks in’ on Foursquare they’re telling their friends that they’re at your business, and if enabled will also update their Twitter and Facebook pages too. Thats a positive mention for your business at every check in! Encourage your customers to check in more often by offering incentives with ‘Specials’ and ‘To-Do lists’.
    Example: 10% off on 3rd check in, freebie for this weeks mayor, reward upon completing a ‘to-do’ task.
  2. Making Consumers feel valued
    When a user checks in to your location they can leave a ‘Tip’, something that can essentially be used to leave feedback or even a mini-review. ‘Superusers’ also have the ability to edit your company and location information. Don’t be afraid of these things, embrace them! Allowing the consumer to feel like they’re a part of your business is vitally important for increasing customer loyalty, and you can ensure the user knows that you’re taking notice of them by responding personally.
    Keep track of whats being said about your business using the free tools Foursquare provides, then take the time to write to the user via Twitter and thank them. If you do it right you might even start a real conversation, and that is what social media is all about!
    Example: @loyaluser Thanks for leaving the 4SQ tip about our tasty organic muffins! What flavour will you try next time? 🙂
  3. Using Foursquare to do good
    Everyone loves a brand that gives to charity, especially when done on behalf of the customer. Do like Pepsi did and donate an amount to charity everytime a user checks in. Not only will it encourage people to check in more often (increasing your WOM), you’ll also create a really positive company reputation for giving something back.
    And don’t think that this kind of ‘Special’ is only open to big brands … small businesses can make the most of this by choosing a local charity and setting the special for one day a week or during the weekends.
    Example: “we’re donating 50p to Great Ormond Street hospital for everyone that checks in at our shop this weekend!”
  4. Foursquare is not just for retail!
    Use Foursquare in any business to give customers a real and authentic insight into how you work, and encourage employee’s to use it too. Set up a general account for your business and use it to let people track where you are what what you’re doing. Giving a talk at an event? Check in on Foursquare (and connect to Twitter) and let people know. Invite them to come and talk to you. Openness and transparency is essential in creating a business that people trust.

These are just a few ways to use Foursquare for business, and as it continues to develop and grow, so too will the posibilities. Just bear in mind when creating your Foursquare strategy that it is a social networking tool, not a platform for advertising. Bombard user’s with too many offer’s and you risk them ignoring you all together. Something Starbucks should take into account.

Image credit: Foursquare