Location-based social media platforms have become a must-have marketing tool for businesses of all sizes. But most small business owners still don’t understand how these platforms can help them attract and retain customers. BizBytes 101 takes the mystery out of using this relatively new social media tool by helping you get started with foursquare, one of the most popular location-based social media platforms on the market. Eric Gleason, foursquare’s public relations manager for help, lends a hand, too.
How it Works
With nearly 9 million active users, foursquare is one of the largest location-based social media platforms. Millions of people use foursquare every day to find friends and explore new places through a process called “checking in.” Whether users visit a new restaurant or clothing boutique, they share what they’re doing and where they are with their social network. When users check-in at a business, they can get rewards like “badges” and points redeemable through foursquare.
“We’re adding about 35,000 new users each day,” Gleason said. “And last year, we received over 500 million check-ins from people through our website and people using checking-in using their mobile phones, so we’re growing rapidly and we’ve designed tools to help businesses take advantage of our growing network.”
Whether you’re a large corporation, a small mom-and-pop shop in your neighborhood, or even a business without a physical brick and mortar location, you can attract customers and reward loyal ones by offering foursquare specials.
Foursquare specials are basically mobile coupons, prizes or discounts. Specials are given to users when they check in at your venue. If you don’t have a physical location, users can check-in on your website to receive their specials. Keep in mind that specials can be virtually anything you would like to offer. For example, if you own a restaurant, you could offer 20 percent off a meal or a free dessert to customers who check-in at your venue.
As a small business owner marketing your product or service on foursquare, you should also take advantage of their free merchant platform, which allows you to use their Venue Stats dashboard. Through the dashboard, you can view the number of check-ins at your location and keep track of other stats that will help you gauge whether foursquare is working for you.
“We now have over 250,000 businesses using our merchant platform,” Gleason said. “As awareness about location-based social media as a marketing tool for business increases, we expect to see more and more businesses using the merchant platform to reach out to their customers.”
“Getting started on foursquare is easy and free,” Gleason said. “We recommend doing six specific things to get started.”
Sign up for a foursquare account through the company’s website — www.foursquare.com. Then, log in your account and find your business’s page by searching for your company name. When you’ve found it click on “Claim this venue.”
Once you’ve claimed your venue, it’s time to create a foursquare special. In your user account, you will find easy instructions for doing this. Keep in mind that on foursquare there are various types of special promotions you can offer including a Flash Special, which rewards the first 10, 20 or 30, etc. customers who check-in at your location at a specific time. According to Gleason, this is a great way to get customers in the door during your slow hours.
There is also a Mayor Special which rewards the person who has checked in at a venue the most or a Check-In Special which rewards a person for a single check-in. You can also choose to offer a Friends Special which rewards a group of friends who check-in together. Newbie Specials reward first-time customers. Rounding out the list is the Loyalty Special, which rewards a person on their second, fourth or sixth check-in.“Many businesses are now moving beyond just offering “Mayor” specials, which only reward the customer who has checked in to a business the most,” said Gleason said.
“If you represent a brand without a brick and mortar venue, you can create a brand page, or even leave tips for other foursquare users about the venues you frequent on behalf of your brand,” Gleason said. “The majority of tools that we offer are currently free. Brands and businesses can leverage our Specials platform, open API and branded pages at no cost.”
For more tips on using foursquare to market your business, check out the BizBytes 101 Blog at www.BizBytes101.com.