Brands are still in their infancy when it comes to taking advantage of social, location-based services, which have been popping up all over the place. And who has been leading the charge? I’d have to say none other than Foursquare. They really nailed the mobile check-in concept, and in doing so, my entire perception of their business model has changed since I first heard of them.
When the idea behind Foursquare became popular back in 2009, it was based around social gaming. You’d check in and earn points and if you check in more than anyone else, you’d become the “mayor” of that establishment. You could also earn virtual badges and compare your standings with those of your friends. In essence, it was all about competition between friends, which was accomplished by adding game dynamics to real-world activities such as checking in to a physical location.
Nowadays however, it seems like most Foursquare users use it more for the perks and the tips than for the fun of the game. For instance, if you check in at Chili’s Grill & Bar, you can get free chips and salsa, every time, no questions asked. Many other establishments have begun to take advantage of these check-in offers, which can include anything from discount coupons to free prizes and more.
Also, Foursquare has essentially become a way for users to discover new and exciting things to do, wherever they may be. One way they do this is with the ability to leave “tips” on any venue in the system. Whenever I go to a new restaurant, I always check the tips section of the venue page on Foursquare to see what others are saying about the place. “Try the guacamole” or “Stay away from the chicken salad” can be extremely helpful advice at times, especially when in unfamiliar territory.
So what I’m saying is that location-sharing platforms (and most notably Foursquare) have evolved over the years from something that was just fun and goofy to something that is now very useful. It is this usefulness that attracts more and more users to the platform and puts the entire concept in a more professional light.
Such an evolution has taken place many times before. Remember a few years back, when the majority of tweets were useless babble about what someone had for breakfast or what they were doing at that very moment? Yes, some people still use Twitter like that, but for the most part, Twitter is now about sharing useful information in real-time, with an emphasis on useful.
From a marketer’s perspective, such an evolution from playful to professional is extremely helpful. Businesses are now using Foursquare as a tool for attracting new customers and keeping them coming back. If you’re still waiting to jump on the bandwagon, I’d suggest you not wait much longer. The rules of marketing have changed and these new tools are allowing small businesses to compete with the big brands in ways that were never before possible, all thanks to social, location-based technology.
If you’re focusing your marketing efforts on local markets (and who isn’t?) then you need to be using Foursquare and other location-based social media platforms. Whether you’re a real estate agent, a car dealership or a bakery, there’s a strategy there for you, so give it a try. And if everything stated above isn’t enough to convince you, keep this in mind: Location-based marketing is still new, which means very few brands are truly using it correctly to the fullest potential. That gives you a tremendous opportunity to actually get it right, before everyone else does.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on Foursquare marketing. What has worked for you? What do you see as the future of location-based sharing? Leave your comments and questions below. Also, if you’re looking for more information on how to build brand awareness on Foursquare, check out our recent article on that topic.