With over 770 million smartphones in use today, location services have taken over the mobile space. Foursquare is a free mobile location-based social networking app that has more than 20 billion users, who have collectively checked in to various venues more than 2 billion times. Since the app was released in 2009, it has evolved into a platform that incorporates restaurant menus, reviews, deals, and promoted specials. Users can also share their check-ins with their friends through other social media platforms.
Foursquare resources are equally available to small business owners and national brands, making it a valuable asset to many locally-oriented businesses. As a small business owner, you can increase your company‘s visibility by "claiming" your venue, establishing check-in reward specials, and analyzing user activity.
Claim Your Venue
To claim your venue, search for your business or primary location on foursquare.com. Foursquare will ask you a few questions about your business and validate whether you are authorized to claim it. Once you are verified, you will receive a cool window sticker prompting customers to check in to you Foursquare-friendly establishment.
After your location is verified, you can start creating specials to reward check-in activity by giving users discounts on purchases. For example, Arby’s ran a promotion offering special seating to their Foursquare "mayors" - the users who have checked in to your venue most frequently - and 50% off on their purchase. This sort of promotion drives competition, leading to greater exposure of your brand.
Analyze Check-In Activity
Once you’ve claimed your venue and posted some specials, you can access dashboard analytics that show how many check-ins you get each day, the users' genders and ages, as well as their Twitter handles, to providing your business with an opportunity to target your existing and potential customers through social media.
Foursquare is flexible in allowing you to make changes to your promotional campaigns in real time. Don’t be afraid to experiment with your specials to see what works best for you and your business. With the right promo campaign, you can be saving on marketing costs, because Foursquare allows businesses to reach customers for free.
Foursquare recently announced that by the end of 2013, all Foursquare users with smartphones will be able to receive tips about new venues. For example, when a person who has never been to your venue before walks in, Foursquare will send them notifications with tips about your business - e.g. “try our new soup.” Tips generally come from other users' recommendations, but, as a merchant, you will be able to add your own tips and advice. This will allow for a greater brand exposure and will help you connect with your customers on a deeper level.