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What is Foursquare and How is It Useful for Businesses?

What is Foursquare? As we’ve written before, Foursquare is a service with momentous opportunity for data-driven marketers. And the potential grows with the onslaught of users drawn to location-based apps like it. Reported this week by Search Engine Land, Foursquare has surpassed 2 billion check-ins and 20 million users. The app also boasts 35 million places in its location database. So what is the appeal of Foursquare? For consumers, there are several elements.

Firstly, it’s fun because it’s similar to a game. You can pass by your pals by accruing points for checking in at new places, checking in with other people and even earning “achievements.” Secondly, there is the deal component. Many locations offer an incentive for checking in—a discount, a free appetizer upon your third check-in, a gift card for becoming the “Mayor” of a location, etc. The possibilities are endless. Lastly, there is the “Explore” component. Foursquare launched its “explore” tab on the mobile app (and more recently the website) for consumers to find more locations around them they might be interested in. The consumer can simply choose the type of place they’re looking for (food, coffee, nightlife, shopping or arts) and Foursquare will present the user with a myriad of options in the local area. This function is ideal for a walking city like New York or Charleston.

So what’s in it for, say, a retail store? First and foremost—like all social media—it acts as an immediate word of mouth. Foursquare encourages users to provide a status and a photo along with their check-in being prompted by the message, “What are you up to?” It’s also easy to share your check-in. You can opt to share all of your check-ins on Twitter at any time from the mobile app or receive notifications about where your friends have just checked-in. Even better, you can check out where your friends have been, not only recently, but their favorite types of locations (coffee shops, breakfast spots, bars, etc.), their all-time top spots and the tips they’ve provided about the different locations.

Furthermore, brands can be on Foursquare; for example, in the image below, you have Palmetto Brewing Co. offering the tip “Try the Palmetto Beers” at the Charleston location of Whole Foods. Tips can be a powerful tool for interacting with Foursquare users. As Foursquare grows and develops, I’m sure real-time tips like promotions will become available and more prevalent in the Explore feature.

What is Foursquare and How is It Useful for Businesses? image foursquare palmettobrewery

So stop asking, “Why should my business be on Foursquare?” and start innovating ways to better utilize this location-based app for business growth.

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