Marcie Blagden-Ellison

Getting Started with Foursquare: The ABC's

A - About Foursquare
Foursquare is essentially a service that helps users find out where their friends, family, neighbors, etc, are hanging out. Users use their mobile phones to "check in" to different locations (restaurants, parks, bars, museums, etc.). What makes this location service-based social network different is that it's built around a game. Users are encouraged to revisit locations to receive badges, points and Mayorships. The idea is that the incentive of receiving points will encourage you to visit (and revisit) locations. 

B - Breakdown of Points
Users receive:
5 Points - For a new location (i.e. one that they've never checked-in from before)
5 Points - Adding a new venue 
1 Point - Every additional check-in from a previously visited location
1 Point per Daily Location - Additional Points for every unique location (check-in) during a day

C - Connecting with Customers
As of August 2010, Foursquare had over 3 million users worldwide. Coincidentally (and unsurprisingly, more than 15,000 local businesses have started experimenting with the tool and its local store marketing capabilities. Small business owners across the country have realized that they can utilize Foursquare to engage with their local customers by offering foursquare "Specials" (discounts, prizes, giveaways, etc.) for checking in at your venue. 

D - Determining ROI

Foursquare offers small business owners a nice set of venue analytics - for free!Source: New York TimesWith Foursquare's analytics, businesses can view a full range of real-time data including: who checked in, when they arrived, male:female ratio, peak times, etc. This dashboard will help to both measure and to refine how Foursquare is impacting one's local advertising efforts.  

E - Examples of Small Businesses Using Foursquare
Check out this Clickz article which highlights the successes (and misses) of five different small businesses that each incorporated the tool into their local internet marketing strategy. Looking at their triumphs and misses will help you build and launch a program that fits with your integrated marketing strategy. 

F - Finding your Foursquare Strategy 
  1. Create an account - Use it for a week or so to get a feel for it (i.e. you want to know what your customers will be/are experiencing with the tool).
  2. Start out by encouraging your local customers to check in (and post reviews) from your location (THINK: incentives - i.e. offer a discount or prize).
  3. Consider what you can offer to the "mayor" of your location. Publicize that widely to get your customers competitive juices flowing. 
  4. Take into account the personality and values of your target customer. Is he/she particularly charitable? Perhaps he/she has school-aged kids? Once you've identified a specific value, consider donating $.05 for every check in and then, at the end of the promotion period, donate the funds raised to a specific cause or to a school. (Make sure you clearly publicize this in your other local marketing and media efforts.)  
G- Getting Started
As is the case with most social networking tools, the success you experience with Foursquare is limited only to your imagination, and by the mobile habits of your target audience. The great part about Foursquare is that you can test out your idea(s) with relative ease and do so virtually, for free!  

Click here to locate your venue
 and get started taking your brand, product or franchise marketing efforts to the next level.

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