What the Heck is FourSquare and Why Should My Company Care?

5.26.2010 »
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“I’m at Sanger & Eby (501 Chestnut St, Cincinnati)." How many of these tweets and/or Facebook updates have you seen from the people in your social media network? Tens? Hundreds? If you’re like me, you see these updates all the time. Whether at work, school, a restaurant or a bar, people are now sharing the details of where they go via FourSquare, one of the hottest new location-based social networking tools.

Simply explained, FourSquare lets you “check-in” at different places and share your location with your friends. As you check-in around town, you earn points, and if you accumulate enough points by visiting a venue often, you can become “Mayor” of that venue. Your check-ins can be shared via Twitter, Facebook and the FourSquare app, which is available for iPhone, Droid, Blackberry and Palm. Your check-ins are only shared with friends, who are people you approve to follow you.

So who cares where I go and what I do? All of my friends of course, and not surprisingly, the businesses I frequent. With over a half a million users as of March, 2010, companies are increasingly interested in FourSquare as a way to reward repeat visitors through discounts and incentives.

FourSquare has developed a set of business tools that allow business to create four different types of incentive offers: Mayor Specials, Frequency Specials, Check-in Specials and Wildcards. The goal is to get repeat visits, engage customers and make it lucrative for you to “check-in” and share your location with your social network. FourSquare provides real-time venue stats so companies can see if an offer is generating new and repeat visits, as well as mentions on Facebook and Twitter.

Think local businesses around the country (and globe) aren’t testing the FourSquare waters? Think again. In Cincinnati, where Sanger & Eby is based, plenty are:

  • Bakery Sugar Cupcakery rewarded my friend @redrabbit with a free cupcake for visiting and checking in
  • Blackfinn American Saloon offers free cover on certain days when you check in
  • Grinders Coffee rewards you with $1.00 off every fifth check-in
  • Taste of Belgium, a waffle shop in Findlay market, recently posted that specials via FourSquare would be coming soon

Nationally, brands like Starbucks ($1 off Frappucinos for Mayors) and Carrabas (show you’re the Mayor and enjoy a complimentary dessert with entrée purchase) are getting on the bandwagon too. Know of any other Cincinnati businesses that are using FourSquare? National? Who do you think should be actively promoting business on FourSquare?

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