How to Be the Mayor on Foursquare

Let’s start with some honesty: competing with your buddy to be the Mayor of Starbucks is a silly exercise, right? It’s a freakin’ coffee shop, so why are we so inclined to mark our digital territory with frequent Foursquare check-ins or to stock up on some ridiculous badges?

FoursquareWhile we might have mixed feelings about Foursquare, the New York-based social network continues to show promise as the epitome of geotargeted marketing. Foursquare allows us to connect with our favorite businesses and brands, and it in turn offers businesses new ways of appealing to shoppers in their vicinity with updates, specials and events. Participating businesses can even get free analytics that show checkins, Facebook and Twitter shares and information about some of their most loyal customers (those who check in the most frequently).

This post will describe the value of Foursquare from the consumer perspective, and share some thoughts on how to get the upper hand on your buddy in claiming dibs on your favorite places.

Don’t call him by his pseudonym

Foursquare has been around since 2009. Up to this point, Foursquare users have been identified users by their pseudonyms (first name and last initial) as the default. Now, that’s set to change as Foursquare looks to give more information about visitors to paying businesses.

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Whatever the case, more than 25 million people worldwide currently use Foursquare to share their locations, with millions of checkins each day. It’s easy to download the iPhone or Android app, invite friends to join you and start checking in at your favorite places. The person with the most checkins at any location is known as the “mayor.”

Staking your claim to fame

Foursquare can be fun way to share your location with friends, connect with other aficionados of different places, or read ratings about what to eat or buy. Here are some factors to consider in making your checkins:

Competition: The level of competition can vary considerably from place to place. At a location like an auto repair shop, you might claim the mayorship with just a few checkins, while a Costco store could require dozens of checkins. (If you’re looking to outscore your friends, it makes sense to look for service businesses like the auto repair shop that might have lower competition.) You’ll see a message “You are [number] days away from becoming the mayor” as an indication that you are among the checkin leaders at that location.

Personal brand: Another factor to consider is your personal brand. If your brand is about sophistication, you probably don’t want to check in at places like Wal-Mart.

(Dis)Integration: Foursquare can be integrated with Twitter and Facebook so that your checkins are automatically shared on those networks. This adds another interesting dimension, one that comes with a caveat regarding frequency and your audience. If people are following you on Twitter for, say, your expertise on marketing, they might get annoyed by seeing your regular checkins at the local pizza joint. So, either use restraint or don’t integrate those networks.

Travel: Since Foursquare is global, you can check in at places during your vacation at Disneyland, Europe, or wherever you happen to be. These checkins are a convenient way to share your experiences with friend, and also serve as your personal digital record of some of the places you visit.

More than just theaters and coffee shops

One final thought is about Foursquare is that checkins aren’t limited to retail stores and restaurants. You can share your spiritual beliefs or passion for a social cause by checking in at your church or community organization. In other words, Foursquare is just another layer of the onion when it comes to sharing what makes you tick with your friends and peers.

How do you use Foursquare? Do you compete for mayorships at your favorite hangouts, or is it a more casual way to share your location at any given time? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

For more information about how to use social media in your marketing efforts, download our Increasing Conversions with Social Media guide.

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