Let’s say you are a foursquare user and visit Mom and Pop’s Candy – a new sweets dealer down the road. Mom and Pop have decided to entice new customers by offering a free pound of jelly beans as a “Newbie Special” on foursquare.
You notice the bright orange Special underneath Mom and Pop’s Candy within the application and check it out. Once you check in and receive your free pound of deliciously solidified high-fructose corn syrup, you return to purchase four more pounds of jelly beans. Upon purchasing that fifth pound, you unlock the “Loyalty Special” providing you with a sixth pound free!
You’ve just experienced foursquare for Business.
Following an insane 2010, in which Inc.com says foursquare had 381,576,300 individual check-ins, 6 million users and a 3,400 percent growth, foursquare upped the ante by developing what is now foursquare for Business. It allows any business with a storefront to claim their venue (location) and provide specials to new and loyal customers. foursquare revamped the old-fashioned rewards card by taking it online and injecting it with social lifeblood.
While mulling over your sugary coma, you wonder how you can use this wonderful new social network to your advantage. Here are six tips to consider as you think about using foursquare for Business:
- Claim Your Business. More than one person can “claim” venues on foursquare. If a venue has been claimed, a staff heading in the right-hand sidebar indicates the users who manage the location. You may have to look closely, for sometimes this is hard to see.
- Establish a Profile. Business owners who decide to claim their venues must add a bio and a profile picture. It will look polished and more professional and distance the business from clutter. In addition, it makes them easier to find.
- Offer Specials. “Specials” are unique offerings created by businesses to entice customers and are more common at individual locations. There are seven different types of Specials that a business (and the consumer) can utilize. Find these described here: “A Whole New World of Specials.”
- Create Badges. foursquare’s badges are akin to the patches you earned for completing certain tasks as a wee Boy Scout. However, the differences appear when corporate sponsorship gets involved. There are two types of badges: the Partner Badge allows users to unlock a slew of goodies only after they start following a brand (they “like” them) on foursquare. The other type goes nameless, but includes all of the built-in badges that foursquare provides as rewards for exploring (i.e., the Swarm badge, awarded for checking into a location where 50 others have checked in as well, such as a sporting event).
- Understand Related Tools. Badges can be retired and not all badges are still available. In addition, people become consumed with obtaining as many badges as they can (gamification works!) to the point that several websites were created to database the aforementioned virtual patches. My favorite is 4squarebadges.com, although the Huffington Post also maintains a comprehensive guide.
- Go Mobile. Recently foursquare tore apart its mobile application and rebuilt it “Extreme Makeover style,” for its 20 million loyal users (up from 6 six million roughly two and a half years ago). The new application emphasizes their refined social layer as well as a reimagined Explore feature. The latter has struck swiftly and mercilessly at websites such as Yelp and UrbanSpoon, but has leveraged the considerable number of foursquare users.
Sporting KC is a great example of brand pages on foursquare. They have completely fleshed out their profile by developing a custom banner, bio, photos, updates, tips and lists of local businesses relevant to the rebranded Sporting KC soccer club as well as LIVESTRONG Sporting Park. For example: Ex-Home Fields, Sporting KC on foursquare, Partners and Hometown Favorites.
foursquare’s recommendations aren’t a one-size-fits-all approach, as those networks are based on, but “customized based on your check-ins, your friends’ check-ins and the more than 2,000,000,000 check-ins from the foursquare community.” Two billion – a lot of zeroes, people.
Enough of this. It’s time to claim your first venue.
– Brandon Painter, 2012 summer intern