A couple of years ago, when Foursquare launched, they were the king of location-based services. Started as a way to connect with friends while you were out and about, it’s had its share of problems.
A site (which has since been shut down by the government) called PleaseRobMe.com, posted a running tally of people who were checking in on Foursquare and tweeting their location. It showed a running tally of these tweets with the phrase, “Please rob me. I’m not at home.”
And, while the only real benefits you had to using the service were badges and beating your friends in points or telling burglars you weren’t at home, Foursquare began to gain notoriety and use.
Not to be undone by one silly article, though, the mobile app announced an overhaul of the service by turning it into a recommendation platform.
Foursquare Uses for Marketers
Now, with their 180 degree change in direction, marketers have an opportunity to use the service to recommend people drop by our locations or our client’s businesses.
- Ask for check-ins. A client of ours has a check-in sign at his cubicle. Not only does he want you checking in, you have to do so with a photo. Clearly you’re not getting anything by doing that (except his love), but it goes to show how you can suggest people check-in to your location. Put the sign in your windows or at the register. Ask them to check in.
- Tie check-ins to rewards. Offer a free drink, a free app, a discount, or a free product if people check-in to your location. Our local dog store gives doggie bakery treats for checking in to their location.
- Encourage tips. When I checked in to the Detroit airport last week, a tip from my friend Bryan Willmert came up (it said to stand to the right on the moving walkways if you weren’t going to walk – amen, Bryan, amen). When you encourage people to leave tips and their friends see that, they’re more inclined to visit the same place.
- Use time of day to your advantage. If you know the bank across the street is particularly busy at lunchtime and after work, use that to encourage people to drop by your location while they’re running their errands.
- Work with other local businesses. Instead of stealing business from your competition, why not work with the other companies surrounding your location? If I check in to Julius Meinl (the best coffee shop on earth), they could recommend I walk across the street and get a cupcake at Southport Grocery.
Clearly location-based recommendations are not for everyone. But if you have a location – no matter what you sell – it’s something worth exploring.
How do you recommend businesses use the changing Foursquare?
Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, a Chicago-based integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of the PR and marketing blog Spin Sucks and co-author (with Geoff Livingston) of the book, Marketing in the Round. You can find her on Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and Facebook.
Photo Credit: Foursquare