Foursquare, the location based social network, is purported to be the next big social media phenomenon despite ongoing privacy concerns. Launched just last year in only a few cities around the world, Foursquare now has over 400,000 unique visitors (in January). Since September there has been a steep increase in activity as users catch on to this popular social networking game and this is only expected to grow since Foursquare went global last month.
Foursquare allows users to check in from their mobile phones when they are out and about at dinner, sports venues, tourist venues and even at the hairdresser. As a user, each time you check in to a location you are awarded points.
Once you start accumulating points or visiting locations frequently you are awarded badges and titles (I am the Mayor of Stock Up, one of my favorite places to have lunch in Kerrisdale). Foursquare apps are available for download to most major smart phones (iPhone, Blackberry, Android and Palm Pre.).
If you think it sounds like more of a game than a serious business network, you are right but if your business is location based, it is a game you really should be taking seriously. A little friendly competition can do wonders to bring people back to your location again and again and so businesses are beginning to clue in to the loyalty potentially and Foursquare as a tool to spread awareness: many businesses are offering incentives to those who become mayor and to visitors who offer tips about the location.
Foursquare Tips for Business
1. Make sure you are listed on Foursquare. The best way to do this is by joining the community, downloading the phone app and adding a venue from there (read this post from Dave Tailor for more detail on how to do so).
2. Consider offering incentives for those who visit frequently and sign up with Foursquare to promote these. Every time someone signs in to your location, their followers see this, so the more Foursquare visitors you have the better – its like free advertising!
3. Monitor Foursquare to see who is visiting and especially to track tips. Foursquare users can provide tips about your location and since this is user driven you may want to reward positive tips and be prepared to go to bat if someone posts something negative. Most of the tips I have seen to date are positive.
I have been playing around with Foursquare for a few months and it is fun but so far I haven’t been rewarded for my patronage – here’s hoping this post changes that!
Since Out-Smarts is virtual and not location based, we’re not on there but we do encourage all businesses to be aware of what Foursquare is, to make sure they are listed and to keep an eye on what is being said about their business. If Foursquare does take off, as it is predicted to, then more and more of your clients will be using this tool to share their nights out, business meetings and fun.