Have you heard of FourSquare?

I was listening to Kim Komando last night and she mentioned that the next “hot” thing for small business owners is foursquare.com. Have any of you heard of it or are using it? It looks like it’s another level of social network marketing where people “check-in” virtually to your business and get rewarded for doing so. You set up specials based on certain criteria being met (every 5 check-ins earn something etc.) and the person who checks into your location the most is considered the “mayor” and earns a different type of special. I’m just in the beginning stages of checking it out, but wondered if someone out there has any experience with it.

I just went and looked at their site. It is free, my shop is already listed (although the address is wrong) I have 4 check ins and no tips. (at least nobody is calling me a jerk).

The drawback I see is that you are asking people to download an Application in order to use it. I am a little touchy about what I download into my Blackberry due to bad experiences with a couple of free apps.

I am curious about their business model. From what I saw, no ads on their site, no charge for application, no charge to businesses or users and free data reporting. Am I missing something?

Essentially, Foursquare is a version of social marketing for people with Iphones. Yes, they check-in each location, eventually earning a “badge” or the mayorship of that location.

What it means to you, is this is the first level of Location-based marketing. Meaning, Foursquare reads the persons GPS location when they check-in…then the “specials” for businesses locations within about 900 ft appear on their phone.

So when the customer checks-in at the dry-cleaner next door, your special “may” appear as a business nearby.

Some businesses, not many, have been very successful in promoting Foursquare - google AJ Bombers in Milwaukee. These have also been urban businesses in busy areas, with “techy” customers.

Convential wisdom is Foursquare is not a way to gain a lot of new customers…but rather another way to connect, possibly more frequently, to your current customers, who play Foursquare.

I was just touring a few ad agencies a couple weeks ago - one of which was the agency for FourSquare. I have to tell you that they are incredibly excited and passionate about this company.

FourSquare is currently being run by some deep-pocketed investors so it is supposed to remain free (and ad-free) for a while. It seems to be taking hold much more in cities than in rural areas but they are planning to expand agressively.

Basically, anyone with a iPhone or smartphone (I use a Droid) can check in and collect badges based on features of the location, their use (eg. newbie, overshare), or special event badges. It’s kind of like collecting bumper stickers - not a whole lot of practical use but fun to share.

It typically is used as more of an engagement or loyalty program with Mayor specials but I have also seen some retailers - I believe American Eagle - give discounts to everyone who checked in and I am assuming they sold a couple extra shirts that way.

I have read about a few business who have made it decently successful:
Swarm Badges I have one!

Mayor Specials



So I read around the FAQ a bit, but I couldn’t find out how Foursquare limits the redemption of specials.

For example: if you offer the Mayor one free thing per week, how does that get limited? What prevents him/her from coming in every day and getting the reward from a different employee each time? I guess you could just make it so that the reward involves a buy X and get Y free kind of deal, but that seems to spoil the “wow” factor.

Also, if you give away something like “free X for every Y checkins”, what prevents the person from coming back and using the reward again? Does the “coupon” vanish when they leave the site or when they come back/check in again?

How does Foursquare prevent “gaming” the system? Or is that up to the vendor to do by offering only deals they can live with?

It looks like foursquare only allows you to check in once per day at each location. I’m guessing that the coupon that shows up on your screen is a “use it or lose” it sort of proposition, but I’m not sure. I signed up for both my business and also downloaded the app for my personal cellular - I’m going to test it later with some of the other places in town doing deals.

Anyways, I’ve claimed my locations. I’m informing my employees. And next week I’ll add some simple buy-x-get-y deals for 1st timers, frequency and the Mayor. I’ll let everyone know how it works out.

My business homepage is http://foursquare.com/averspizza if anyone is interested.

I set up and had 3 specials approved: one for 1st check in, one for every 3 times and one for the mayor. I just went to “activate” them (they never sent me the promised e-mail alert to let me know they had been approved) and discovered that you can only have one special active at any given time. That is really, really annoying.

Now I need to rethink the whole strategy of what I want to do with it, since it’s limited in such an idiotic way. Why not make the promotions dynamic???

What other venues, including me, are doing…is have only the 1 or 3 visit special active. The mayor specials we advertise on in-store signing and store website. You can also use the “tips” section at the bottom of your page to mention the mayor special.