Foursquare is dealing with a landslide of queries from business owners and marketing agencies that want a piece of the fast-growing service. It has already developed integrations with a range of brand advertisers in various verticals, including Starbucks for retail, Bravo in entertainment, Pepsi in packaged goods, and Bing for technology and online services.
What is Foursquare?
Foursquare is a service that helps find where your friends are hanging out and offers tips from other users on what to do once you get there. You use your phone to “check in” at different places you visit, from bars and restaurants to parks, museums and even the grocery store! Foursquare rewards you for checking in with badges, points and mayorships.
Foursquare is just one of a number of new mobile social networks — Gowalla, Loopt Star, Where, Buzz, Dream Walk, BriteKite, MyTown, PegShot — that use GPS-driven location tagging to allow users to check in, post tips and, more importantly, share that information with their friends. Each check-in rewards the user with a badge, passport stamp or points.
There are also social good-focused geo location services such as CauseWorld and Scavnger that allow users to check in and redeem their points for causes they support. And, more recently, Yelp and Facebook announced that they, too, will join the fray with their own location-based service.
How do I get started?
Download one of Foursquare’s mobile apps on your phone. They provide apps for iPhone, Android, Blackberry and Palm phones.
Register for an account on Foursquare’s website or through the mobile app. Be sure to upload a profile picture so you can be eligible for mayorships! Link your Facebook and Twitter accounts to make it easy to find your friends and share your current location on your favorite social networking sites.
Check in at the places you visit
Checking in lets your friends know where you are. To check in, open the mobile app on your phone and Foursquare will use your phone’s GPS to find your current location. Click the “places” button or tab to see a list of nearby places where you can check in. If the place you’re looking for isn’t in the list, add it directly from your phone. You’ll have the option to share your location with your Foursquare friends and with Facebook and Twitter.
Check out tips and leave them for others
One of Foursquare’s greatest features is the ability to leave tips on a venue. People leave tips about their favorite dishes, things to do, how to get a discount and even where to find clean bathrooms. You’ll find tips like “the Gyro Pizza is the best you’ll ever eat” or “avoid the hot and spicy burrito — it’s neither hot nor spicy.”
With Foursquare the primary premise is around rewarding users with three different merit systems. Mayors, Badges and Points.
1) Mayor – A mayor is a user who is in 1st place on the location leader board. First place defined as most check-ins
2) Badges – Badges are awarded for achieving various milestones tied to either the number of check-in’s at a given location or the amount of check-in’s throughout the day or other criteria.
3) Points – Points are awarded at varying increments based on multiple factors such as a new venue may yield a higher point allocation.
Get a Discount
Some businesses have started to use Foursquare as a “digital loyalty card” to track users who visit their stores. To reward you for being a regular customer, they might offer you a free drink every fifth visit or 10% off your bill the tenth time you check in. Other places offer discounts to the mayor. You’ll see any specials a business is offering in your mobile app when you check out the list of nearby venues.
Foursquare has just hired several staffers whose job is to plow through the long queues of business requests. They’re each currently processing hundreds of such requests a day. On the list are a huge number of mobile businesses that want to verify their listings – a process by which Foursquare confirms a person owns (or represents the owner of) a food cart, cafe, corporate office, or any other business. Verification is a prerequisite for offering specials – like, for instance, a free Italian sausage with onions and peppers on your fourth check-in.
Red Robin Gourmet Burgers has become the first major national restaurant chain to launch a checkin special on Foursquare. Any Foursquare user who shows their server they’ve checked in will receive either a Big Melt Bacon Burger or a Honey Mustard Chicken Sandwich for $6.99.
Bing joined CNN in sponsoring a badge for this year’s World Cup. Users are able to unlock the badge by checking in at world cup viewing locations in select U.S. cities like New York, Atlanta, Las Vegas, San Francisco, and Seattle.
New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met) has launched a partnership with Foursquare to encourage visitors to check in when they visit the museum. Foursquare users who check in twice will earn the Met Lover badge.
Six Flags amusement parks have announced a partnership with Foursquare to offer a new badge and other incentives to guests who check in through Foursquare. The Funatic badge can be unlocked by checking in 10 times at the same Six Flags park this summer.
6 reasons to care about Foursquare as a business
1) Customer insight and word of mouth – You can gain invaluable insight into the behavior patterns of your customers. You can analyze visit trends as well as gain insight into their views of your brand.
2) Customer service – With the ability to get near real time feedback as users interact you can gauge the sentiment of your users.
3) Customer retention/ Loyalty Program – Forget about punch cards, track loyalty via check-in’s and reward those who frequent establishments with special offers and recognition.
4) Viral Effect – With the auto post of updates to Twitter & Facebook with badge unlocks and options to post your check-in’s the viral impact of check-in’s is amplified with this service moreso than other geo-services to date.
5) Big Brands are taking note – Starbucks & Dominos have already started campaigns with Foursquare and with various media partnerships this trend will quickly continue to rise.
6) Measurement – One of the powerful elements of the service is the analytics option that is currently being rolled out. As a business owner it is possible to track: Total checkins, unique visitors, when and if users shared their updates (twitter, facebook) as well as analysis of demographic breakdown and ability to track usage over time .
4 reasons to care about Foursquare as a consumer
- Technology powered digital memory jogger: We are all prone to memory lapses. How nice to have a record of your travels on your phone. No need to remember the address; the geo location service automatically populates. If you use the comment section to record a note about something you especially enjoyed or despised — a bottle of wine, a helpful sales clerk, etc.
- Tips from known reviewers: I know the people who have left tips at places I check in to.
- Real-time ability to connect in real life with friends and colleagues: Each of these services offers the ability to see what’s trending at any given moment near your location — as well as where your friends and colleagues have checked in (if they enabled sharing).
- Onsite retail rewards: delight factor of receiving an on-site reward or discount for checking into a location.