With over 9 million people on Foursquare, and an estimated 250,000 businesses since it first launched in 2009, this just goes to show Foursquare’s versatility as both a domain for the nosey and inquisitive among us, but also how it can be utilized as a growth mechanism for small businesses.
Although I was relatively late to jump on the ‘Foursquare bandwagon’, what first attracted me to using the app on a regular basis was its sense of fun and playfulness. From checking into your home, or popping round your friends for a coffee, the fact that Foursquare, like no other, rewards you with points, ‘badges’, and other incentives makes the whole experience, quite frankly… well….addictive. For me, it feeds my inquisitive nature, and whilst there are other similar geolocation ‘check-in’ apps, such as the ‘places’ tool on Facebook or Twitter, Foursquare, is the ‘social media phenomenon’ that offers the most value for time invested and what’s more has for potential for leveraging customer support to increase your business profits.
So…for all you ‘Foursquare virgins’ out there, you’re probably wondering what on earth I am talking about! In simple terms, the app itself, asks your location, and then locates it by your mobile phone’s GPS. The good thing about the GPS software is that the more competitive amongst you, cannot cheat and lie about your whereabouts merely to seek the incentives and rewards that businesses have to offer for your continued loyalty.
Although some may see this as an invasion of privacy, as with any form of social networking, its personal choice, and understandably, Foursquare isn’t for everyone. However, you only have to look at businesses such as Starbucks, American Express and Louis Vuitton who have all jumped on the Foursquare bandwagon as to why small businesses would benefit from using the app. When utilised in business terms, the app encourages existing, potential customers and also their work colleague’s to openly share their whereabouts, not only with the community of Foursquare itself, but also their other social networking profiles, which can be interlinked with their Foursquare app. Obviously, as with any social media, this is only beneficial if utilised correctly. So I’ve formulated 6 easy steps to demonstrate how small business’ can reap the benefits of Foursquare and market your business to its full potential.
6 fool proof initiatives to capitalise your business on Foursquare
Everyone knows that as a customer a smile and personal recognition goes a long way. Keep track of your customers/clients who are frequent ‘check in’ visitors, and utilise this to address them with that extra warm welcome and perhaps a cheeky little discount on their next visit.
Whether your business offers catering, leisure or retail facilities, your most loyal ‘check in’ customer will be made aware that their custom is always acknowledged and appreciated by being awarded a mayorship…definitely one to put on your CV
The key to success…have fun with it! Offer discounts and special rewards if you check in within a designated time-frame. You’ll get an influx of business, whilst getting free publicity… and best of all…everyone loves a bargain!
If your customers are anything like me, we all like to feel like we’re getting something for nothing. Set up quirky competitions, for example the first 10 check ins get a free coffee or a 10% discount. It gives the person a sense of achievement whilst in return you’re getting publicity and traffic. Also an added bonus is, more often than not it’ll appeal to clients/customers sense of fun and are likely to return due to your generosity!
5. Customer acquisition
Utilise your existing customers to your advantage. They can potentially bring a lot of new business if you offer them something in return. You could offer an ‘Introduce a friend’ discount, or group discounts, getting you the desired increased income, and leaving them a satisfied and happy customer.
6. A Worthy Cause
It’s always nice if you can do your bit for charity. Lots of businesses partner up with charities. For example, every check-in that your business receives, a small donation will get made to your chosen cause.
It really is simple as that!
Foursquare doesn’t have to be time consuming if utilised correctly. From a personal perspective, as an individual who is absolutely passionate about networking, I find it intriguing that recently I checked in at a local landmark, for one of my American clients to see it on Twitter and comment that he visited there when he was in England! What a small world we live in! It makes you realise on a personal level so many things that, otherwise, you wouldn’t know you have in common with people. It brings people together into communal spaces, whereby you can network with people with the same shared interests, and engage on an informal level, but also a professional level too. I think it’s this diversity of the app that really sells Foursquare to me over other geolocation check in apps.
In answer to the question of whether Foursquare is a marketing tool or the perfect ‘stalker app’; although I utilise it primarily for a bit of fun, it clearly can be utilised as a subtle form of advertising. However, it is also a phenomenal app for all you nosey parkers (or should I say stalkers) out there!
Please do leave a comment if any of you have any thoughts or experience of using Foursquare as a growth mechanism for your business, or whether you just utilise it for fun.
*image credited to http://chibird.tumblr.com/
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