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4 Ways Foursquare Can Extend Your Brand.

Social media junkies “check-in” for fun, stay for deals and steals.

Foursquare is one of roughly a dozen location-based social media networks, and on it users vie for top honors of businesses and places. They also share consumer tips, can create to-do lists and cash-in on special deals.

Being mayor isn’t what it used to be. When I boasted to a fellow patron recently of my newly crowned mayorship of our local watering hole, my pride was met with congratulations on one side and a blank stare on the other. The girl of the blank stare then confessed, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.” Not wanting her to miss out, I explained: I signed up for Foursquare for “business purposes” in November 2010, after having penned a piece for Vertical Marketing Network on location-based social media. My curiosity was piqued, if not my interest. I was afraid Foursquare would become a part of the rest, one more application or website I had to visit on a regular basis in order to keep up. Still, inquiring minds had to know how these media, which allow consumers to “check-in” via Smartphone or Internet to earn virtual badges, points and actual goods, worked. In November, I reported that Foursquare had an estimated 4 million users. One month later, I was one of a network of 5 million, and while many consumers (witness: girl of the blank stare) have yet to tune in to location-based social media, one can hardly argue it’s a passing fad. Facebook’s now famous 500 million users can use its Places feature to connect with brands and business; Yelp reports having 31 million unique visitors per month; and Gowalla, while seeming to be “the little guy” with an estimated 600,000 users, continues to win industry accolades. Social media — especially the location-based variety that encourages consumers to connect with businesses, and vice versa — continue to be all the buzz. And with three months of Foursquare under my belt, the power and pull of location-based promotions is hard to deny.

Maybe I’m just blogging out loud, but it seems like in the world of social networking more is more. Savvy businesses would be smart to emulate empowered consumers as they sign up and stimulate the increasingly active alleyways of the Internet.

Location-based social media has consumers rapt, be it for the sweet deals or the sheer thrill of competition. As I noted in November, consumers using location-based social media “can ‘check-in’ using their mobile devices and then connect with businesses, friends and even celebrities, in some cases earning ‘badges,’ points and other rewards, both real and virtual.” In all cases, users are competing for the title of “mayor” of any one business or location. Being mayor is not unlike being crowned Homecoming Queen; it doesn’t really matter, but everyone knows who you are. There are other — perhaps more important — draws for businesses, though. A friend recently told me she uses Foursquare to keep track of new restaurants and stores worth checking out. Another admitted to using the application solely to find deals and specials in her neighborhood. I found the uses for marketers impressive, as witnessed through four types of promotions:

— The First Time RewardWelcome to Cubana Social Cafe — Half off yucca fries on your first check-in. A small, free giveaway for first-time customers is as inviting as it is enticing.

— The Keep ‘Em Coming Back FreebieWelcome to Chili’s — Check-in at Chili’s and get free chips and salsa at every check-in. Like the name says, a long-running promotion like this one will keep customers coming back for more.

— The Sizable Seduction Welcome to skinnyskinny — Topple the current mayor and get 30 percent off every single item in our store. A generous discount like this one, from a luxury skin-care and organics store, is the perfect balance of healthy competition and hearty reward.

— The Prime-Time Present Welcome to Gap — Check-in at any Gap store and get 30 percent off 1 regular-priced item, and Gap will donate $1 to charity A big brand, a big discount and a charitable nod is a win-win for everyone.

With so many ways to engage consumers, smart brands and businesses would be remiss not to explore location-based promotional opportunities. So, log-in. Check-in. And — with luck — cash in.

Has a certain location-based promotion caught your eye? Share your experience in the comments section.
Brought to you by Vertical Marketing Network, a Leading Integrated Marketing Agency.
Photo credit: cambodia4kidsorg

About JJ Nelson

Freelance blogger for Vertical Marketing Network; food writer; bartender.

3 comments on “4 Ways Foursquare Can Extend Your Brand.

  1. Alice
    January 19, 2011

    I’m a Foursquare user AND a yelper. It’s become a bit of an addiction for me to “check-in” to achieve mayor/duchess status or else to see what deals local businesses are offering. Like you’ve mentioned, the mayor/duchess status doesnt mean anything really. But to know that you’re on top of your game, you’re more inclined to continue competing with others for the title. I’ve often been tempted to hit up certain shops or restaurants for because of the deals. I think more stores should get in on the “foursquare’ or yelp network. It’s great exposure and definitely a great incentive for the consumer.


  2. leslie
    January 18, 2011

    I recently read Foursquare is adding something like 25,000 users a day! We’ll probably never get accurate stats as to how many of those are “active” users, but it’s definitely time for all businesses to get “check-in”.

    And Foursquare doesn’t just allow you to extend your brand, and potentially steal customers from nearby competitors. It can also be used to continue dialog with (and even get feedback from) customers. Most Foursquare users are already heavy social network users, and they allow users to automatically publish check-ins on Twitter and/or Facebook. I remember getting a Tweet from a local bar asking how I enjoyed their comedy night, because they saw I had checked. I felt “appreciated” and still spread the word about their establishment because of that interaction.


  3. Hiren Patel
    January 18, 2011

    We been monitoring LBS which thrives on hyper-local for a while now. When we speak to potential customers about foursquare or facebook deals, they put a blank face. These two are getting most of the PR and even facebook is going hard after businesses with places and deals. Still blank face.

    It seems that they are filtering these out since many of them do not understand the power of it. But at the end of the day businesses owner needs to understand and it more importantly allocate resources behind it.

    Good post.



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