Foursquare allows your customers and visitors to “check in” when they’re at your place of business or event and to share that update with their friends on Foursquare, Facebook, and/ or Twitter. When a user checks in to a location, he earns points, virtual “badges,” and sometimes even sponsored deals and offers. Users often compete to be the “mayor” of a given location, a title awarded to the user who has the most check-ins there, and some businesses offer special incentives for mayors. These gaming mechanics have made Foursquare the most popular of all the geo-location services with 3 million active users and more than 100 million check-ins recorded as of July 2010.
Like Yelp, businesses are encouraged to “claim” their business so that they can monitor who is checking in, offer special promotions, or advertise to people nearby using geo-location technology. Foursquare has tremendous potential for hyperlocal advertising of businesses. Users within a business’ immediate area can be sent targeted deals, encouraging them to stop by because they are already nearby. For example, many businesses take advantage of Foursquare by offering specials to the mayor, such as free drinks or desserts, or a percentage off a purchase. Others give a special to everyone who checks in at their place of business.
What’s good about Foursquare?
• By competing to be “mayor,” your customers are visiting your business more often.
• Offering specials to the mayor or to anyone who checks in gives extra incentive for customers to patronize your business.
• Publicly broadcasting users’ checkin locations alerts those in the area and in users’ network where popular businesses and events are.
What’s not so good about it?
• Many people stay away from Foursquare because they don’t want to publicly broadcast their location.
• Users can forget to check in.
• Not every location is listed in Foursquare’s database; it’s up to users and businesses to add them manually.
Other geo-location based services include BrightKite, Loopt, and as of August 2010, Facebook. Facebook Places is a new feature that enables Facebook users to check in to places using their mobile Facebook application. Facebook aggregates check ins on a Facebook Place page.
Business owners can claim their Places Page to link it to their Facebook Page. However, Facebook does not yet offer the promotional services available to businesses on Foursquare.