Photo Courtesy of Whole Foods Market
FourSquare - Photo Courtesy of Whole Foods Market

Photo Courtesy of Whole Foods Market

FourSquare is an immensely popular social networking game that allows users to “check-in” to a certain location through text messages or a phone application. Upon checking in at a business establishment, the users’ location is confirmed by their phone’s geolocation technology to prevent inaccurate or unfair check-ins. Members are awarded points for their check-in progress and the user with the most check-ins at a location earns the coveted title of “mayor.” For certain milestones, members can also unlock badges and share their progress with friends. A list of available FourSquare badges can be found here. Those who are new to the world of FourSquare can watch an introductory video here under “What is FourSquare?” on the right-hand side of the page.

Apart from being a fun and competitive game, FourSquare can also be a powerful marketing tool for businesses. For example, according to a recent report from Radio Shack, the average FourSquare user spends 3.5 times more than non-members because of their special offers. What makes FourSquare unique is that by playing the social media game, users can gain real-world rewards. With over 10 million members, as of June 11, your business can benefit from tapping into this explosive social media site.

Why Should Businesses Use FourSquare — FourSquare users will be far more likely to stop by your location if they can earn points or unlock specials on FourSquare. This social networking site offers a free set of marketing tools to venue owners that will help to attract new customers and keep current customers coming back. The best part of FourSquare marketing is that it is completely free to set up and create specials. Any retailer, restaurant or hospitality industry member should use FourSquare. Most likely, someone already created a profile for you, so all you have to do is claim your venue by finding your business’ page and clicking “Claim this venue.” You can learn more and claim your venue here. FourSquare will verify your ownership either by phone or mail and provide you with a 4-digit PIN to enter on the site. Follow the subsequent instructions and once your venue has been confirmed by the FourSquare staff, you can start creating special deals for FourSquare users. For example, Radio Shack offers 20% off to 1st time check-ins, 10% off for every check-in and mayors receive 20% off their purchase. Businesses can not only attract new customers but reward their most loyal ones by offering these FourSquare specials. When a user opens up the FourSquare app, they will be notified of special deals in their area by clicking the “Special Nearby” icon. Upon clicking the icon, users are presented with the offer details and store’s location. This feature is a highly effective marketing tool because often, a user wasn’t considering stopping by a location, or never heard of it, but they were enticed to visit solely because of a FourSquare special. Once you’ve created the specials that best suit your business, you can monitor your FourSquare marketing success by using the data in your “Venue Stats Dashboard” to determine what’s working and what you may need to alter.

Available FourSquare Specials and Examples:

Friends Special — “Come with 4 friends and unlock a free appetizer for the table!”
Swarm Special — “If 20 FourSquare users are checked into this bar at one time, members will be awarded 1 round of drinks on the house!”
Flash Special — “The first 5 people to check-in after 5:00 get a free dessert with any entrée!”
Newbie Special — “Take 25% off any item in the store for your first check-in with us!”
Check-in Special — “FourSquare users can take 15% off any spa treatment on Tuesdays!”
Mayor Special — “The mayor gets one free drink each day of their reign!”
Loyalty Special — “20% off for every 5th check-in with us!”

Promote Your Venue’s FourSquare Activity — It is essential to let people know that your venue is active on FourSquare. Once your ownership has been verified, you will receive a FourSquare window cling so customers know you are a FourSquare-friendly establishment. After you’ve clearly posted this decal to your venue’s window, add the FourSquare icon to all of your marketing materials such as your business card, email signatures and Web pages. You may also consider sending an e-newsletter or e-blast to your email subscribers, announcing your presence on FourSquare and any special offers you may be running.

Recently, FourSquare has proved victorious in its battle with Facebook with the death of Facebook Places. Facebook decided to remove its Places function inside of its mobile app, which was unveiled a year ago and, like FourSquare, allowed users to check-in to various locations. Although its goal was to provide competition to FourSquare, the project never became popular and didn’t find the same success. While reigning supreme in the realm of location-based social media sites, FourSquare continues to flourish and attract new members. This July, FourSquare partnered with several Daily Deals sites, such as LivingSocial and Gilt City, to offer better deals in exchange for check-ins. Users can now views these new deals, along with current local business specials, under the “Explore” tab of the application. This is very good news for FourSquare users, venue owners and marketers alike.

The Public Relations and Marketing Group highly recommends FourSquare for just about any retailer, restaurant or other hospitality industry member.

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