FourSquare is often forgotten about by small businesses when they are putting together their social media strategies, mostly because its uses are not always fully understood.
So let’s break it down.
- FourSquare allows your customers to check-in at your location. Why should you care? Well, as an owner of that establishment, you can actually see who has been at your business, when they came, and the number of times they have been. The latter allows you to identify some of your most loyal customers.
- It’s a fun little game. Everyone likes a little competition, especially when that competition comes with a reward. As your customers are checking in, they are also competing for mayorship of your establishment. Being mayor gives you a fun little title and a notice to everyone else checking-in. As a business, you can turn around and take advantage of this friendly little competition but offering perks to whoever owns the mayorship title. Some examples of this are a free item for the mayor when he checks-in, a special discount, or even a special table at your establishment, all of which encourage your customers to compete to be the mayor.
- Tapping into you customers’ friend base. When a customer checks in, they have the option to share that information on Facebook and Twitter. When they do, they’ve just announced to all of their friends that they are at your location. In essence, they have just given you a non-solicited testimonial.
- Specials to encourage that last-minute decision. With FourSquare, you may offer specials to everyone who checks in. The other day I was getting in my car to head home when that nasty little green light came on informing me that my car needed a bit of gas. Being the cheap-minded individual I am, I looked around to see which of the gas stations on the corner had the best deals. Since all the prices were the same, I launched FourSquare. Sure enough, the station with the big green sign (who will remain nameless) was offering a free soda to anyone who checks-in with FourSquare. Ten minutes later, my gas tank full (but my wallet empty), I head home with a free soda in my hand. Specials from FourSquare can be utilized to encourage customers to use your business over your competitors.
- Shout outs. You can instantly send a message to people who have “opted-in” for communication from you. Imagine that you have a retail outlet. On a Saturday afternoon you walk into your store only to discover that it is void of customers and all of the employees are playing Angry Birds (and being paid for it). Time for FourSquare. Once you log in, you can shout out a special to everyone who has checked in and offer them a 30% off special for the next 3 hours. All they have to do is show the FourSquare check-in. Now your loyal customers are rewarded and your store is filled with business, keeping your employees from saving those Angry Birds.
Location-based social media has been around for a bit, and has yet to take off. But it is starting to mature. Companies like Buffalo Wild Wings are using SCVNGR to create a game environment and ultimately encourage people to visit their restaurants. Facebook launched Places and is now incorporating that in with their new Facebook Deals. And the internet coupon master Groupon is in talks with FourSquare to see how they can join forces. Then there is augmented reality. That’s one for another day.