Foursquare is one of the newest social media platforms to be embraced in the last year and one of the most promising new applications for businesses. According to the website, foursquare is “a mobile application that is a cross between a friend-finder, a social city-guide, and a game that encourages users to explore their neighborhoods and rewards them for doing so.” The point of the application is to help users explore their surroundings, discover new things and share their experiences with others. Foursquare uses micro-blogging similar to twitter and interfaces all of the check-ins (posts) with a virtual map. In doing this, users tag locations, businesses and events that they are currently attending for their friends to see and read about. It is a way to share knowledge, play a game and receive promotions and rewards from businesses simultaneously. Due to the mobile aspect of the application, most Foursquare users interact with the site through smart phone applications.
The game portion of Foursquare is what sets it apart from other applications that allow users to tag locations with their posts. In foursquare, a user gets points and earns badges for checking-in at different locations, the frequency of their check-ins and the uniqueness of where they travel. An example would be the Starbucks honorary barista badge. If someone checks into five different Starbucks locations, they become an honorary barista and earn the barista badge. Starbucks is tying this badge into their customer loyalty program and offering promotions and discounts to their honorary baristas.
Collecting badges has become very trendy in many urban settings and adds a fun aspect of competition to social media. Badges are just one option that Foursquare is offering for businesses to promote themselves on the site.
Many businesses are using:
- Mayoral specials – specials unlocked by foursquare to the person who has checked-in most frequently over the past 60 days
- Frequency specials – specials that are unlocked by foursquare to users every ‘X’ number of check-ins
- Check-in specials – a one time special unlocked by foursquare after ‘X’ number of check-ins or for checking-in at a specific time or date
- Wildcard specials – not managed by foursquare, but verified by the businesses staff
Once a business sets up an account with Foursquare and tags its location on the Foursquare map, users can click on the location to receive a brief description and a To-Do list. The To-Do list is a list of recommendation that the business and other user have provided for the location. A museum might add an exhibit, event or activity to their to do list along with whatever recommendations other users have added. This along with check-in based promotions adds a new level to social media marketing and community building technology for arts organizations.
How businesses can utilize Foursquare:
- Tag the location and business on the Foursquare map
- Add a brief description of the location to the map
- Link twitter account to Foursquare to increase activity
- Add items and recommendation to the To-Do list of the location
- Integrate check-in and badge based promotions
- Use Foursquare as a part of a customer/patron loyalty program
Foursquare is also providing an analytics system for businesses. Foursquare analytics has a personalized dashboard for each business that shows which users are checking-in at their locations most often, what time the location has the most Foursquare traffic, and how many check-ins are being linked to other social media plat forms. It gives a demographic breakdown of their Foursquare patrons and provides information such as total check-ins, total unique check-ins, and statistics based on daily, weekly, monthly and annual traffic. This type of data is priceless to organizations and adds a way to track profitability, return on investment, and patron use.
Foursquare is less than two years old and already has over 500,000 users. The integration of social media, entertainment and business prowess makes this company a very promising investment for the arts community. Foursquare has shown enormous potential and incredible growth. It has the possibility of becoming the next Twitter and is offering much greater potential for businesses to harness the power of social media while creating a new outlet for promotions, marketing, and community building.