Why brands should be acting now to engage with customers on Foursquare

If you’re still getting your head around how to tap into apps like Foursquare then here is your wake up call. The introduction of location-based apps, and their staggering growth in usage, has resulted in probably one of the biggest opportunities in marketing and it is still early days.

Sadly, the only wake up call I get when I talk to brands is that they are still not aware of the importance of these apps, or how to incorporate them into their social or marketing plans.   If you need any more reassurance that getting your head around Foursquare is a good idea, New York is now naming a day in its honor.  Mayor Bloomberg, New York City’s very own mayor announced yesterday that April 16 will be Foursquare Day, and the first social media day in New York history.

Yes, this is big business folks. In only two years,  over 8 million people have downloaded and are using the app. Looking at their most recent stats we can see their user base has grown by more than 2 million in just over two months. And, keep in mind, this has grown purely by word of mouth. By the end of last year, more than 7,000 businesses were using Foursquare, and the app claimed 2 million check-ins per day.

The people using Foursquare are influencers. They are active on social networks and share their activity, purchases, travel plans and places they visit with their friends.   People “check-in” to locations through the app at businesses or venues they visit either in their city or while traveling.  They also have the option to add tips, photos and share with friends on social networks. Other businesses are rewarding them for loyalty and posting deals in the app.

Apps like Foursquare help you to grow your business:
Location-based apps enable businesses of all kinds to attract new customers, understand who their best customers are, encourage loyalty, create meaningful relationships and gather valuable information about what people like about their products or services, and what they don’t.

As a brand or business owner you can manage specials, reward loyal customers and acknowledge your “best customer” – aka “the Mayor”. Foursquare enables you to collect statistics about your venue including total daily check-ins over time, your most recent customers, your most frequent customers, their gender breakdown, what time of day they check in. Promoting specials nearby can help you drive new customers in the door that may not have come in otherwise. Users will discover specials as they are checking out the app and checking in to venues near your location.

One of the best parts of the app is how check-ins can be broadcast to Facebook and Twitter. If the user checks in at your store and they have this set up, your business will be seen across their networks and potentially thousands of people. Having them stop by your store is already an endorsement by that person that they like to shop there, and can even be a recommendation that others should.

Foursquare is one among several location-based services that you should be tapping into.  Other apps you should be aware of include Facebook Places, Gowalla and SCVNGR. These all work slightly differently and I recommend you personally try these out to get a better understanding of how they work.

Stay tuned for my next post to get more info on this topic and tips for getting started.

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