For a couple of weeks, I was seeing Foursquare updates on my Twitter stream. Everyone seemed to be “campaigning” for mayor. What the heck?
I was very happy to ignore this new fad until I read this article on why small business should take a look at it. Having just started with a new client (a restaurant), I recognized the possibilities when I read the article, and I decided I needed to hit the campaign trail.
For those of you who don’t know, Foursquare is a game. It’s part social media, part geo-tagging, and I think I just ran out of parts. It runs on the three major smartphone operating systems (iPhone, Android and Blackberry).
As you travel about, you check in at various places, using the GPS feature of your phone for the app to find you. Warning. Sometimes I’ve found it to be more than a little off when finding me (like it thinking I’m in DC when I’m actually in Arlington). When it does find your location, it pops up a list of possible locations near you. If your location doesn’t exist, you can add it.
Checking in gets you points. If you have friends on Foursquare, you can compare your points to theirs. Competition! If you check into a location more often than everyone else, you become the mayor.
There are badges to unlock, and the app doesn’t tell you how to unlock them, so there’s some mystery. It’s very cool when a new badge unlocks!
Why should you care? Well, it is a fun game (and it’s free). But you were probably looking for more than that. If you are a service business, you might not care. But if you are a retail business (especially a restaurant), you might care a great deal.
It’s all about customer loyalty. You can register your business with Foursquare (free right now), and offer specials. Those specials will pop up when Foursquare finds your location. Imagine a number of restaurants in an area. Yours has the only special listed. If it’s a good deal, you’ll attract more business than your surrounding competitors.
You can also offer loyalty specials (every 10 check-ins gets something). This encourages people to keep coming back.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Still not sure? Download the game. Play it for a couple of weeks. You’ll come up with some good ways to use it for business, I’m sure.
Anyone offering specials? Let us know in the comments. I’ll check in and check you out.