I’m sure by now most of you have heard about Foursquare. Maybe you already downloaded the application on your smart phone and are using it or know someone who does. Or maybe you were watching the History Channel and saw their promotion for their Foursquare page. You just keep hearing “Foursquare” in conversation. And, if you don’t know about Foursquare by now, I assure you, businesses do.
Foursquare is a location based service that uses the GPS capabilities of your cell phone so that you can share your location with your fellow Foursquare, Facebook and Twitter friends. It offers gaming elements such as badges and Mayorships to give the user a fun and interactive experience. Foursquare badges vary and a user can unlock specific badges by doing or going to specific places. Mayorships are granted to users based on the most days a user checks in to a specific location. Mayorship “wars” can occur between users “battling it out” with one another over a location and notifications get sent to your phone if you have “ousted” or “been ousted” as Mayor of a place. So how are businesses using this increasingly popular application to their advantage? And more importantly, why are they? Because word of location equals word of mouth and in today’s social market, more and more businesses are utilizing the social web in their advertising efforts.
Small businesses are making an impact locally by leveraging social advertising by offering specials and discounts to Foursquare participants. These incentives are offered to users that prove their loyalty to a business through multiple check-ins and Mayorship titles. Due to the popularity of the application and people’s love for free stuff, this results in a win/win situation for businesses and patrons alike. Who wouldn’t want to be rewarded with a free drink at their local bar just for being a regular customer or a free lunch for promoting their favorite burger via a Foursquare tip?
To top it off, sharing a special on Foursquare can be done without the excessive dollars most advertising campaigns consume. Clarabelle’s Cupcakes, located in South Miami, entices Foursquare users by offering a free cupcake with every 5th check-in. Clarabelle’s has raked in 24 sweet loving users and has success with repeat treat offenders with an average of 3 check-ins per user (currently at 63 total check-ins). These numbers may be small but the sweet word of mouth will surely make an impact on the social web. Multiple users have added their two cents with very generous tips about Clarabelle’s, making this a positively sweet Foursquare business page.
Clarabelle’s Cupcakes is not alone. Many local businesses have jumped on the bandwagon with specials and offers that Foursquare participants are happy to accept and enjoy, all by simply checking-in.
With initial reluctance, larger companies and corporations now want to get in on the social media action. They seem to be noticing that the once revered “trend” of social media marketing is no longer “just a trend” and has grown into a whole new advertising market that works for the people, by the people. People want to hear what others have to say about a specific brand and/or product before they invest their money and they are not as easily convinced by traditional methods of advertising. Corporations using social media campaigns as a new effective form of advertising enjoy the lower budget they entail at the same time as showing the community and the people they provide their goods and services to that they do indeed “care what they have to say”.
One of the leaders in the Foursquare/Big Business merge revolution is Starbucks. All across the nation Starbuck’s is offering its patrons discounts and a specialty Starbucks barista badge for participating with Foursquare. This mega coffee house has definitely taken social media marketing by the horns with Facebook and Twitter and embracing the location-based app is no different. Currently they are experimenting with a universal mayor award that provides a discount to any mayor of any Starbuck’s, anywhere in the nation. This leap of customer loyalty meets corporate discount via a social media game will definitely have an impact on the way big businesses choose to market to their existing and potential customers alike.
Along with small and big businesses, Foursquare offers a unique promotion for non-profit organizations. This location-based application has a big social heart and it shows with their attention to cause marketing. Charities and non-profits now have the opportunity to make a difference locally and/or nationally by offering incentives to Foursquare users by combining charitable promotions with check-ins. Some businesses already participate by donating a percentage of their sales for every check-in their business receives. This is a great way for businesses to build a buzz and also participate in social good.
An example of a Non-Profit Organization that has embraced social media in a big way is the Brooklyn. Their website has an established community page where visitors can view Twitter feeds, blog posts with comments, photos, videos, podcasts and yes, their foursquare presence. This page is dedicated to the visitors of the museum with the avatars of past museum guests along with a multitude tips about the museum itself. They even congratulate the current mayor with their mayor special and special shout-out mayor section. An impressive personal BK Art Star badge tops off their Foursquare interaction, giving them 2 thumbs up in social media marketing participation.
There sure is a lot of advertising opportunity from such a little application! The possibilities of using Foursquare to market your business and or social good are limitless as long as there is a following. Foursquare’s subscriber base is growing strong with over 3 million users as of August 2010, a considerably exponential growth considering that they were not even at 1 Million (725,000) in March 2010. Location based apps are all the rage and Foursquare seems to be the king for now.
What do you think about Foursquare?
Do you agree that Foursquare offers value to businesses?