In the past few days I've run across a number of people who want to know why I am showing my phone to my server at a restaurant or why I am chuckling in a client's conference room as I check in and announce I am now the mayor of their location. All people who could be utilizing Foursquare not only for themselves but a really fun cost effective way to promote their business.
Nowadays, with widespread use of mobile phones, you would think that it is easier to find where your friends are, and where they hang out. Mobiclix even just did a great infograph review of what happens with mobile phones in just 60 seconds. At the same growth of mobile phones, also came the growth of establishments of different themes, cuisines and locations. Dining out is more popular than ever. You'd think with more establishments it would be easy to find a table but at an establishment one evening it might be an hour wait, the same place no wait at all the next evening. This can lead to a confusing marketing plan for owners of these businesses and finding a way to harness the people to not only come in but also encourage those people to spread the word. These are exactly the problems that can be solved by the smart phone application called Foursquare.
So what is Foursquare exactly and what are its main benefits? First let's look at it from a user. When you register on Foursquare, either through the web or as a smart phone app, and you check in when you are entering an establishment, you are letting your contacts know that you are in the area. They may be pleased to know where you are and probably probably follow and hang out with you. Heck if you are lucky they might come by you a cup of coffee at Starbucks or an even better drink at your local pub. If you are in a restaurant, you will order some drinks or food or if you are shopping you will have some sort of customer service experience good or bad. Having done these, you are now a reliable person to offer some 'tips' on Foursquare. These tips could reflect your good musings about the establishment, or can also reflect your complaints. It's all up to you. Basically by participating in Foursquare, you are exploring your world and opening up to your friends. The friends that will be able to know your details are your contacts from the accounts that you linked with your Foursquare account. You can choose your address book, your Facebook account or your Twitter account for this purpose. Check-ins are dependent on GPS locations. So if you are on the road for travel and find yourself in a bind not knowing where to go for the next gas station or to choose a hotel for the night, you can simply check your Foursquare application to find out if there are any good places in the area. Is not that convenient?
Whoever frequents an establishment the most within a certain time period becomes the "mayor" of that location. Once you are declared a mayor, then that just goes to show how often you patronize an establishment. Some stores offer prizes for those who become mayor. These prizes usually vary according to restaurant or store, as it is their discretion as to how they want to reward their loyal patrons.
If you are a new or small business, Foursquare could be a very powerful tool for you. The main goal is to reach out to as many people as possible by using this application so you will be able to effectively advertise your establishment with as little capital as possible. This is very possible through Foursquare. The bottom line is that you have to encourage your customers to check in every time they are in your restaurant. For example, run a contest where the mayor of your restaurant will receive free products. With that product up for grabs, your customers will check in every time they go to your place. Examples are our local Houlihan's restaurant that gives a free mini-appetizer just by checking in or a local coffee shop that gives free coffee to whoever is mayor. It also encourages the game feature of Foursquare and friends may frequent more to try to "steal" the mayorship from their friends. All good for you who gains more in more business from their friendly competition. By checking in, they will advertise your restaurant to each of their contacts and you are reaching people far and beyond your usual market. When people are made aware that your establishment exists, they will be curious as to why their friends usually hang out there. That certain curiosity will then drive them to visit your establishment themselves, bringing you business and even more contacts.
Foursquare lives and drives on networking and Social Media and it is up to you to take advantage of that. By encouraging your customers to check in, they are effectively promoting you without billing you for any advertising costs. Call it modern marketing if you may, but it is very effective and costs next to nothing compared to the standard advertising costs. Participating in Foursquare effectively and infinitely increases the potential growth of your business. If you have not started taking full advantage of this opportunity yet, then it's probably time that you should. As with any other Social Media outlet even if you are not using the space for advertising you want to know what is being said.
Remember that client I am now "mayor" of? They had no idea they had such a thing and that people were not only checking into their location but commenting. Luckily this time only good comments â~º If you decide to use this application do not forget to utilize Foursquare on your other Social Media properties. Advertise what you offer on Twitter, Facebook Business Page, your website or more. Who knew advertising could be so much fun!