Friday, August 6, 2010

Foursquare - The Next Twitter??????

Who is the Mayor of your store?

There is a new tool gaining momentum with mobile shoppers; it's called Foursquare. Do you want to dramatically increase store visits and customer loyalty? Looking for ways to inexpensively but effectively build your brand? If you're still playing catch-up on the usage of Facebook and Twitter to drive sales, Foursquare may be exponentially more productive. Get on the trend early and maximize the impact of Foursquare on your business...before your competition beats you to the punch and your potential customers.

Foursquare is a location-based social networking service, used mostly on smartphones. The idea is that people "check-in" to venues they're at (restaurants, bars, stores, etc.) which lets their friends keep track of where they're hanging out. Essentially, Foursquare aims to encourage people to explore their neighborhoods and then reward people for doing so. If you check-in the most to a particular venue, you become the "Mayor" - although someone else can become mayor if you neglect your venue; wouldn't that be a great concept in real world public service? There's also a game involved, where users earn points for their activity and unlock "badges."

Foursquare is in a position to be a boon for businesses. In the same way that savvy business owners have utilized the Yelp community to promote and encourage reviews, they can tap into Foursquare check-ins to get people talking about their establishment and rewarding them for their patronage.

As a business owner, you can also use Foursquare to engage your increasingly mobile customers with Foursquare "Specials". When they check in on Foursquare at your venue reward your loyal customers. Give the current Mayor of your venue extra attention to encourage others to want to be Mayor.

What if you owned a bar. You could put up signs indicating that the Foursquare Mayor drinks for free. Imagine how the competitive elements of the game could manufacture a social contest like no other. You would get intense mayoral races, which means more frequent check-ins, and a bunch of free online exposure. The occasional free drink would be a pretty inexpensive marketing investment for all that exposure.

Foursquare has developed an easy to use toolkit that allows you to set up specials:
  • Mayor Specials: unlocked only by the Mayor of your venue. Who's the Mayor? It's your single most loyal customer! (the user who has checked in the most in the last 60 days)("Foursquare has deemed you the Mayor? Enjoy a free order of french fries!")
  • Check-in Specials: unlocked when a user checks in to your venue a certain number of times.("Foursquare says you've been here 10 times? That's a free drink for you!")
  • Frequency-based Specials: are unlocked every X check-ins.("Foursquare users get 20% off any entree every 5th check-in!")
  • Wildcard Specials: always unlocked, but your staff has to verify some extra conditions before awarding the Special.("Show us your foursquare Swarm badge and get a free drink!")
Seriously....remember the early days of Twitter when everyone mocked it. The early adopters really got Twitter, tweeted their enthusiasm, took to their blogs to evangelize the benefits of Twitter, and started to break down why it would be a game changer. The majority laughed and/or misunderstood - “why would I want to share or read mundane information about myself on the web. What pointless drivel.”

But Twitter didn't go away. It gained momentum. One by one more and more people started to tweet, started to figure out for themselves why it was important, and then repeat the same cycle as the early adopters before them. The media was initially quick to judge. Full of fantastic puns, and naysayers, until they started to use it and figure it out too. Long story short, Twitter, as simple as it is, was (and to some extent still is) misunderstood - but enormously popular.

Foursquare today is very much in the same boat as Twitter was a couple of years ago. The early adopters have started to utilize it, but for the most part it remains a service completely misunderstood, and even mocked from time to time. But here’s the thing, it is starting to catch on and people are starting to sit up take notice, and actually use it. Maybe it's time you did too! It might be great for your business. Maybe I could be Mayor!!!

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