Foursquare for Small Businesses

In recent news, Foursquare has gone global, allowing for users to check-in from anywhere in the world, at any business. As GPS based social networks are poised to be the hottest expansion [in my opinion] in 2010 it is only right that small businesses understand what a little social-media elbow-grease can do for them.

Foursquare Social Network

Wait…what the hell is this? Good question. Think of foursquare as the best addition to social media for small businesses that is out there. Simply put a user interacts with foursquare in this simple sequence of events, we will use a coffee shop for the example:

  1. I walk into said coffee shop and order a tall coffee, black.
  2. While the barista gets my coffee poured I pull out my iPhone and load up Foursquare. I do this because:
    • I’m a product of technology. It occupies my time while I am bored.
    • I love staying connected to friends and I routinely, like many people, check my Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare from my phone.
  3. I click the nifty ‘Check-In’ button. This allows Foursquare to use GPS to figure out where I am. Once I confirm that I am at the said coffee shop I have the option to tell all of my Twitter, Facebook, and Foursquare friends that I am currently at that shop. This benefits me because:
    • If I were in a more crowded place, or even nearby a friend checking in, they could potentially be notified that I am there and connect with me.
    • I am again, a product of technology. On top of that I am also a product of gaming and capitalism, so I like ‘rewards’.
  4. As stated, I love rewards so the next step is handled on the Foursquare side. My check-in is now counted towards my total check-ins, daily stats and even achievements such as the holy grail of Foursquare—the Mayor of a location.

Mayor? What does that have to do with my biz? Well if you are like the thousands of other businesses out there, repeat customers are a really really good thing. If you think about the 4 step model above what we are doing is encouraging people to repeat their favorite locations, and better yet, tell their friends. Word of mouth marketing is now segueing into real time social media. The excellent thing about Foursquare is that their system keeps track of who is checking in, how often, and all of their achievements.

The Mayor status changes hands as quickly as the activity in your business. Every time a user checks in, points are applied to their username based upon the business location they are checking in with. The person with the most check-in points is the mayor. Simple concept. If you want to be the mayor of a place that already has a mayor, check in more than them. Check ins are done in a way to prevent tampering.

For many small businesses this is a godsend for shoe-string marketing. You as a small business owner can now see your customers, their loyalty, and if you are smart ante up the reward for repeat business.

The Basic Social Media Geek Foursquare Contest Without overly amping Foursquare anymore, I will give you a quick structure to effectively implement a Foursquare marketing effort for your small business.

  1. Print up small signs, to be posted by cash registers and on doors. These signs should show the Foursquare logo with a good call to action like ‘Don’t forget to Check-In on Foursquare!’
  2. Add to this sign your offering for participating. In this model I recommend picking a ACME Mayor’s Day [if your shop is named Barista, call it Barista Mayor’s Day] that will happen on the same day of each month. On this day, whoever is the mayor, gets treated like royalty. What that means to you and your business is up to you. If we continue along the coffee shop analogy, royalty definitely means a picture of their mug on the corkboard, a free coffee and pastry for them and their guest to be redeemed at their convenience.So to add this to your previous sign made in step one, the text for this coffee shop would beDon’t forget to check-in on Foursquare! Barista Mayor’s Day winners get free coffee and pastries on us for you and your guests. Ask us for more details!
  3. Train all of your employees to know this model in and out. Tell them they cannot win, because obviously they can check in every time they go to work. And ensure that they will tell each customer about the Foursquare Mayor’s Day rewards program. Get yourself on Foursquare as part of the training and understand where your business lives on this network so that you can view who the current mayor is.
  4. This might take a few months to get off the ground. Don’t fret, the Foursquare movement is really picking up, so invest in being an early adopter for this social media stock. Keep at it, and leverage the other benefits of having visibility into your repeat customers networks.
  5. Register and update your business listing and offering on Foursquare’s Business Sign up and on Yelp.com. Foursquare ties in to this site, which provides reviews and business information.

Remember to understand your customers. Figure out what the best incentive is to get them to want to be the mayor of your fine establishment. Lastly, if your customers are on Twitter or other social networks, make sure you publicize the interaction appropriately! Good luck!

8 comments

  1. First off, love the idea.

    One question – I’m at my house and I just “checked in” to the Starbucks near my home. So you don’t need to physically be at the location to check in and become the mayor? What keeps me from checking in every so often throughout the day without actually going into the location?

  2. Kelsey, Thanks for your response. There is no way to keep people from lying, however it is tough to continuously live that lie. With that said you can only check in one time per day and have it count towards your mayor points. If you feel like someone is tampering with your system, Foursquare has a great staff to help rectify the situation. They also seem to be very open to suggestions for making their network better. This is after all evolving as users need it to, so nothing is out of bounds. To me, as a marketer, this is a great arena to be in. Early enough to do something fun, but not too early that no one is on it yet.

    -Marc @pdxideate @socialmediag33k

  3. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by socialmediag33k: RT @tweetmeme Foursquare for Small Businesses http://bit.ly/5noJwo

  4. The Yelp app will not allow you to checkin if it deems you not close enough to the place you are trying to check into. I am sure Foursquare will pickup on this soon as well.

    @kyleroth

  5. First off, love the idea.

    One question – I’m at my house and I just “checked in” to the Starbucks near my home. So you don’t need to physically be at the location to check in and become the mayor? What keeps me from checking in every so often throughout the day without actually going into the location?

  6. The Yelp app will not allow you to checkin if it deems you not close enough to the place you are trying to check into. I am sure Foursquare will pickup on this soon as well.

    @kyleroth

  7. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by socialmediag33k: RT @tweetmeme Foursquare for Small Businesses http://bit.ly/5noJwo

  8. […] and reward. Look back to my Foursquare for SMB post for some ideas on how to promote your business on Facebook. More to come later! Good […]

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