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The Truth About Foursquare Marketing

Are you a Foursquare fanatic? If so, now might be a good time to turn away from this page. The truth is that geolocation marketing is anything but easy. Sure it doesn’t take a lot of effort to get the ball rolling, but businesses across the country are realizing that embracing check in apps might work great in theory, but doesn’t always translate to results in the real world.

In a recent blog post, tech blog Read Write Web had the nerve to say that 2011 is the year that the check-in dies. The post makes a lot of bold claims such as:

  • Check-ins are limited to big cities.
  • There’s a novelty factor that users can grow tired of rather quickly.
  • It’s still a niche offering that’s somewhat limited to the tech savvy.
  • Having a record of places that you’ve visited isn’t very useful. What’s the point?

All of these claims have some weight to them. Anyone who has experienced the joy of earning their first Foursquare badge, only to grow numb to the achievement several weeks later, should be able to relate.

Aren’t checks-ins destined to be the next big thing?

Maybe… but don’t get carried away with the concept. Anyone who attend SXSW in 2010 would have walked away thinking that Foursquare was destined to be the next really big startup. Although Foursquare celebrated its national holiday this past weekend and its user base has experienced healthy growth, it’s hard to not ask the tough questions such as what happens if and when the check-in becomes nothing more than a novelty? Will it become something that happens out of boredom and cease to become a regular habit? Foursquare was built with nightlife in mind and has now branched out to include practically every business location in the states. The word overwhelming is an understatement.

How small businesses can still get value out of Foursquare

Offer a special.

Businesses that have a Foursquare special get more check-ins than businesses that don’t. Once users have an incentive to check-in they’ll do so more frequently. Locations that have a special show up when a check-in happens near the venue, so it’s also carries value as a promotions tool. Businesses can get a special by following the directions on Foursquare’s merchant page.

Remind visitors to check in.

It doesn’t have to be aggressive; a non-intrusive reminder is all you need. This can be in the form of a display banner, indoor or outdoor signage, or an official Foursquare sticker.

Always follow up.

When a Foursquare user Tweets their check-in use it as an opportunity to say thanks or make sure they had an enjoyable experience. This is the extra type of effort that pays off in the long run.

Questions? Thoughts? Feel free to leave a comment or send an email.


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