While location-based social media platform Foursquare has not been nearly as successful as experts predicted, it appears to be making a comeback. Foursquare’s revenue has improved drastically over the past year, and according to CEO Dennis Crowley, Foursquare’s mountain of data leaves it poised to dominate the mobile scene. But how can local businesses take full advantage of Foursquare’s local, mobile audience? With these 4 brand examples and 7 tips for success, your local business can grow its customer base and generate new leads using Foursquare.

Foursquare in the News

Last year, Foursquare made headlines for impressively bad revenue – though it was initially valued at $600 million, the social network only drew $2 million in revenue in 2012. However, Foursquare’s profits have increased dramatically over the past year. CEO Dennis Crowley reported a 600% increase in revenue in 2013, which left Foursquare on track for a 500% increase between Q1 of 2013 and Q1 of 2014.

While they did not provide exact numbers, based on the $2 million they made in 2012, Foursquare’s 2013 revenue was likely $14 million, and the Q1 2013 revenue was likely $21 million. This puts Foursquare slightly behind the predicted revenue of $15-20 million for 2013. This impressive growth shows that the company has developed a solid plan for monetizing its app and meeting investors’ predictions.

As Foursquare reaches its sixth birthday, Crowley has big plans for its future. He believes that Foursquare is the future of mobile search, and that it stands out above similar services such as Google and Yelp because it takes the user’s personal experience into account. Foursquare focuses on passive engagement – it relies on a continuously growing mountain of data to provide recommendations based on preferences and location. Crowley envisions a future where Foursquare can automatically check you in, furthering this ideal of passive engagement.

What exactly is this mountain of data Foursquare relies on? Here are some of the stats:

  • Foursquare has over 45 million users.
  • The app sees 6 million check-ins per day.
  • It has recorded 5 billion total check-ins in 5 years to 60 million places across the globe.
  • 50 million brands and publishers have used Foursquare.
  • Over 60,000 developers have used Foursquare’s location data for their products.
  • Over 40 million tips have been left by the Foursquare community at locations worldwide.

Successful Foursquare Campaigns: 4 Examples

Still not convinced that Foursquare is for you? Check out these 4 examples of small businesses who ran successful marketing campaigns on Foursquare.

Bright Eyes Family Vision Care


While the vast majority of promotions on Foursquare come from venues such as restaurants and bars, this local eye doctor created a strong presence on Foursquare using a range of rewards and perks. For special occasions such as Foursquare Day, Bright Eyes Family Vision Care provided great deals such as 50% off and buy one, get one free eye glasses. Although they can’t afford to offer these promotions all the time, the vision care center came up with an even more creative reward for users who checked in: locally-made hot sauce. Bright Eyes Family Vision Eye Care enjoys using Foursquare to better interact with the local community and expand their reach.

Angelo & Maxie’s


Although this local New York steakhouse has since closed (and reopened under a new name), Angelo & Maxie’s ran a successful Foursquare campaign based on real research. They found that most of their customers who order meals also order dessert, so they offered a Foursquare special: free dessert with the purchase of any entrée. The campaign ran for 45 days and saw 400 check-ins. 60% of those who checked-in were first time customers, and the restaurant found that revenues rose 18%.

AJ Bombers


AJ Bombers, a local restaurant in Milwaukee, gained a Foursquare following by offering something that users of this social network want: badges. The restaurant asked users to check-in on a specific date to obtain a Swarm Badge, which is earned when 51 or more people check-in to a Foursquare location at once. This promotion drew 161 check-ins. Another way AJ Bombers utilized Foursquare was by posting a tip about their Barrie Burger on their page, which caused a 30% increase in sales for that item.


Using Foursquare, local Philadelphia burger joint PYT has been able to draw over 11,000 check-ins. This restaurant offers free beer to anyone who checks-in on Foursquare. This means, of course, that they have given away more than 11,000 beers for free, but the campaign has paid for itself multiple times over because the majority of customers who check-in to receive the free beer also stay and purchase food.

7 Tips for Foursquare Success

Ready to get started on Foursquare? Here are 7 tips to help your local business succeed.

1. Claim location: The first step in launching a Foursquare campaign is to claim your business’s location. After downloading the app, first try searching for your business. If you can’t find it, use the “Add This Place” option to add your business’s name, location, and category. After filling out the profile or claiming your venue if it already exists, verify your location either by mail or phone (there is a nominal fee involved).

2. Create a page: Once you have claimed your location, another option is to create a Foursquare page. This will act as the hub for your company where you can manage multiple locations and be followed by other users. Add a photo and bio to complete your page. You can also leave messages for your customers as well as tips at your locations.

3. Offer specials and deals: Begin engaging customers by offering a Foursquare special. Foursquare specials are discounts and deals that are available only to other Foursquare users who check-in to your location. Create specials designed for new customers as well as loyal customers.

4. Promote local updates: Foursquare offers features that allow your business to send updates to local customers. These updates will appear in the Foursquare feeds of other users, and they can include coupons, deals, specials, announcements, and important information about your venue.

5. Provide incentives: Another way to engage Foursquare users is to offer incentives that are unique to this social network: badges and mayoral perks. While Foursquare offers a number of badges such as the Swarm Badge described above, you can create customized badges. Foursquare users can also earn the title of mayor of your location by checking in frequently, and you can offer freebies, gifts, or other perks to celebrate the most loyal customers.

6. Engage with tips and trivia: One way that users communicate on Foursquare is by leaving tips, or messages for specific locations that provide helpful information, such as advice about the best seats in the house or best menu items. You can leave tips for customers at your locations as well as at other local venues. You can further engage users by adding fun trivia that’s relevant to your industry.

7. Use analytics to maximize effect: Finally, you can use a range of analytics to better understand demographics and reach your Foursquare audience more effectively. You can collect data on the number of check-ins received, where customers are sharing check-ins, ages and genders of customers, times they check-in most often, and how often they check-in. Better understanding the behavior of your Foursquare audience will allow you to develop more effective tools for reaching them through deals & promotions.

How does your brand use Foursquare to reach a local audience?

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