Why Your Business Should (Now) Be on Foursquare

I’m always intrigued by businesses that use location-based services in cool ways, whether it be offering a deal after a certain number of check-ins to drive customer loyalty, running a scavenger hunt or simply just having a sign asking customers to check-in.

For the most part, apps like Foursquare are really just “nice to have’s” and most marketers would encourage time-starved small businesses to spend what little time they do have on dominating the essentials like email, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Foursquare is cool because it’s a simple way of spreading word-of-mouth.  If I check-in at Ernesto’s Pizza, my best friend Tim might see it in his Twitter feed and it just might remind how he’s always wanted to go there.  Tim assumes that Ernesto’s must be pretty damn good if I was willing to check-in and broadcast to everyone that I was there, so he decides that’s where he’ll go to grab his next slice of buffalo chicken pizza (or next six slices, if we are trying to factually represent Tim).

But what’s the real value to you as a consumer?  If you didn’t work for a marketing tech company, why would you care to check-in? What would get people like my Dad to use Foursquare?  Well, Foursquare recently unleashed their Explore feature for the web (previously only available on the mobile app.)  John Jantsch from Duct Tape Marketing gives a nice overview:

 The way Explore works is that it allows you to search for businesses that your friends and the other hundreds of millions of Foursquare users have found and commented on.  You can use your current location or put in the location of your next vacation to start finding a place to eat lunch today or get a drink near your hotel.  When you find a place it will tell you if any of your friends have checked in there in the past.

 With Explore, Foursquare uses you and your friends’ check-ins to help personalize recommendations for you.  The more you check in, the better Foursquare gets at suggesting places you might like.  In addition to filtering searches by places that they’ve already been, users can filter by tips (maybe someone will leave the password if you are looking for a place that has free WiFi) and by specials (you know, if you’re looking for a place that has 2 for 1 Natty Lights on tap every Tuesday).

 What do you do when you want to find a new restaurant? You either Google it, look it up on Yelp or you ask a friend.  Foursquare now combines them all, and you might not even have to text your friend to ask.

 With the launch of Explore, there’s now a lot more value to consumers, and as a result, there’s a much bigger incentive for businesses to add themselves to Foursquare and make it a part (albeit a small one still) of their online marketing strategy.

What’s your take on location-based services like Foursquare? Useful? Waste of time?

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