Own a small business? Heard of Foursquare? I’m not talking about the four square you played at the playground when you were growing up. I’m talking about the location-based social network where users “check-in” to various businesses and venues using their smartphones.
When users check-in to a venue, oftentimes they share that check-in with Facebook or Twitter, broadcasting a mini-endorsement of an establishment to their friends and family. An endorsement of a business shows they value what service the business provides. This is some of the most powerful advertising a business can get.
On top of the user-generated advertising, Foursquare encourages business owners to claim their venue and start offering specials to users. Specials are only available to Foursquare users and require the user to check-in to your business to receive it.
To get started setting up your own specials, you will need to claim your venue by visiting foursquare.com/business on your computer. Once you have claimed your venue, you’ll be able to create a campaign, which allows you to choose from seven different ways the user can unlock a special.
What you offer as a special is up to you. It can range from offering someone a free appetizer on their first check-in to awarding the Mayor (the person who has checked-in to your business more than anyone else) the best seat in the house. You can be as creative as you want. For example, identify the slowest day of the week (using the analytics tool provided for Foursquare) and entice customers to come in by offering a flash special to the first ten users who check-in that afternoon.
On top of giving your customers a little extra incentive to come back, or make their first visit, running a special is yet more free advertising for your business. When a user is looking in the Foursquare app for new places to try, your venue will be flagged as running a special. Foursquare users love specials and will naturally look at your venue before looking at a similar venue that doesn’t have a special.
With over 750,000 merchants actively using Foursquare to monitor their venue, there are plenty of success stories to be shared. Take the case study from Angelo and Maxie’s Steakhouse posted by Foursquare as an example. The steakhouse ran a special providing a free desert to Foursquare users who checked in and ordered an entree. During the time the special was running, over 400 users checked in and redeemed the special. Of those 400 users, 60% of them had never checked in to the steakhouse. That translates to 240 new customers gained from running a Foursquare special with an estimated $18,000 in revenue. Another case study from RadioShack showed Foursquare users spent 350% of what a regular customer spent during their holiday promotion. Impressive numbers all the way around.
You can view the two case studies plus many more by visiting the Foursquare website.
The best part of the merchant tools that Foursquare provides is the price; it’s all free. There is no cost to the business for claiming a venue or running a special. It takes very little time to get set up and even less time to start your first campaign.
In a time when social media is on the rise, businesses need to get ahead of the curve and start taking advantage of the free services they provide. While it is just one tool available, Foursquare is a tool that is gaining power as it continues to add users and merchants by the day.
by Jason Cipriani
Jason Cipriani is a freelancer writer, who has covered technology news for the last four years. He is currently a CNET How To contributor and owner of Beta Desks Coworking in Pueblo.