6 Tips for Merchants to Market with Four Square

Bea Halstead - February 10, 2012

Foursquare is an LBS (locations based services) social network accessed from a popular mobile application – desktop available too – that can be integrated with a member’s Facebook and Twitter account.  They describe themselves as “a service that helps find where your friends are hanging out and offers tips from other users on what to do once you get there.” Around 15 million people worldwide have committed to over 1.5 billion check-ins with millions more being added daily.  Beyond just checkins, other tools for members like tips, photos, and a new integration with Garmin also aid in fan engagement. There are over 600,000 businesses using the Merchant Platform to connect with customers and generate traffic to their locations.  Both Merchants and Brands have the ability to create a business page, however the recommendations to follow focus on a merchant’s marketing strategy for Foursquare.

1.  Claim your venue. Sign up for an account and search for your location. It might be that a customer has checked into your venue, and you can claim it by proving that you own it. If you can’t find it or you are opening a new location, click “Add a new venue to Foursquare,” which is at the bottom of the page. Once all the information is supplied, your venue page will come up for you to claim.  Foursquare will ask you a few questions about the business and how you’d like to verify your ownership.

2.  Create a Special. There are seven types of specials to choose from to reward your fans for visiting your location to check-in, leave a tip, or share their location with friends.

  • Swarm Special. A special is unlocked when a certain number of people are checked in.  This can be great for events or fundraisers sponsored by the merchant.
  • Friends Special. A reward for when friends check in together. You can give a great referral package or offer something really special and specify how many friends need to be checked in, if someone is able to rally that much support to your store then they get the big reward.
  • Flash Special. A special for the first X number of people who come at a specified time.  You can target times that are slower for your business to try and increase traffic or give the first x number of people to come a prize by a certain time, like in conjunction with a product release.
  • Newbie Special. A prize for people who check in to your business for the first time.
  • Check-In Special. A reward for every single checkin. Merchants can offer a free item or a discount off a purchase.
  • Loyalty Special. A reward for a user’s third, fifth, tenth checkin to incentivize customers to return a few times to get the special. Loyalty specials can be recurring (“every three checkins”) or not (“on your third checkin”).
  • Mayor Special. The mayor is the person who has checked into a venue the most. As such, he or she deserves a prize.

3.  Educate the Staff. You never want someone to redeem a special and show it to your staff, only to be looked at with a vacant expression. Be sure your team is prepared and can recognize a Foursquare special and offer the redemption. Once you create a special, Foursquare generates flyers for you to print -one for employees, and one for customers – to aid in building awareness for the special promotion.  Your staff can easily tell when a person has ‘unlocked’ a Special because the color will change from gray to orange on their phone. Another technique is to include a register code in the Special. Maybe have it say: ‘upon checkout tell us this discount code: ‘4sqSpecial’.

4.  Dashboard Analytics. The Foursquare merchant dashboard is full of useful information. Business owner’s can see when and how many people are checking in, along with details on the gender and age breakdown of those users and who the most frequent visitors are.

5.  Advertise That You’re a Foursquare Merchant. People might not be inclined to check in if they don’t know there’s a reward.  Foursquare will send you window clings for each location you verify and set up a special for.  Display them in your windows and print out signs to place next to registers letting customers know you’re on the network.

6.  Target Hot Spots. Look around your area for businesses that get lots of checkins and try adding tips to these venues that point people to your business or special.  Foursquare includes a feature that will point to nearby specials, but try to write a quirky tip like “we deliver to this hotel – even if you answer the door in your PJ’s” and possibly attract even more of those people already in the area.

Foursquare isn’t the first location-based social network to help you connect with friends using GPS via your mobile device, it is however becoming the most popular.   As an inexpensive solution for creating specials and generating buzz for your business, it’s a no brainer why so many merchants and brands already participate in this network.   For any additional questions you might have about Foursquare, there is a very helpful site here, or contact us today for a social media consultation.

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