Foursquare: Location-based Social Media

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Social media is all over the place these days. It seems like everyone is on Facebook, Twitter, or watching a viral video on YouTube. Several large companies, like Honda and Skittles, have jumped on board. These companies see the value in getting involved with their customers. Pay attention to the end of a Honda TV commercial and you’ll see Honda directing you right to Facebook. Well, Foursquare is a new player in town.

Foursquare is a location based social media platform, not an elementary playground game. It’s relatively new to the social media game, founded on March 11, 2009. It gained traction at SXSW 2009 and currently has about 1 million users worldwide. I recently discovered it and want to attempt to shed some light on how it works and why it could be very important to your business. To get started all you need is a Foursquare account and cell phone, preferably a smart phone.

It’s Social Media…

Location based social media is a little different than Facebook, YouTube or Twitter because its use is only social if you are out-and-about in your city. As you go from business to business, Foursquare wants you to “check-in” and get reviews or tips from others that have been there before you.

For example, I went to a new grocery store near my home and checked-in with Foursquare. Once I checked-in I read some tips and found out that they don’t accept credit cards but debit cards are fine. This was a great tip left by a previous visitor. So, people are still providing content just like Facebook or Twitter, but Foursquare’s content is really useful when you are out-and-about.

It Really Is Just A Game…

To encourage you to use it, Foursquare has made it a game. When you go to a store or restaurant and “check-in,” you get 5 points. So the more places you check in, the more points you get, and you can compete with friends and others for the highest score.

In addition to points, there are badges to earn. Think back to boy scouts here–the more you check-in, the more badges you earn. I counted 32 badges in the iPhone app. Since I’m new to Foursquare, I am a proud owner of the Newbie badge. Other examples are the Zoetrope. To earn the Zoetrope, you need to have checked in at 10 movie theaters. The “Explorer” badge is earned by checking in at 25 different venues.

What Does It Mean For Your Businesses?

  • Foursquare is ideal for you if you have a brick and mortar storefront.
  • Business owners get access to the Foursquare dashboard.
  • See Foursquare users in your business in real-time.
  • Get real-time feedback from customers.
  • Your business gets a Mayor!

As people check-in, they also give tips about your company to other users. As a business owner, you get access to a dashboard provided by Foursquare to get real time tracking of who is checking in. This is great for you because you get real time feedback on what your customers are saying about your business while they are still there. This is an opportunity to give those people special attention to ensure that good reviews abound.

The person that checks in at your business the most is your Mayor. This person is a great asset to you because they do tons of promoting for you for free! Because Foursquare is a game, you want your customers to win the Mayorship, not you, the business owner, or an employee. Also make sure you treat the Mayor well, because they are loyal customers that have good things to say about your business to their friends on and off the web.

Go Earn Those Badges!

Foursquare Badges

Foursquare is young and it is gaining traction quickly. This type of social media platform has much to offer business owners and customers as well. If you are a business owner, open an account and see who is coming into your business and pay attention to what they are saying! If you are a customer (and we all are), then open an account, promote the good businesses, and give good tips.


AJ Wilcox

Awesome, Ben! Thanks for that shakedown. I have been annoyed by Foursquare friends on Twitter, but never knew the point. That will definitely be helpful for business owners and managers.

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