Monday, July 19, 2010

Foursquare:The Newest & Hottest Kid on the Social Networking Block

You already know the benefits of the now-mainstream social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube--all phenomenal tools to engage clients and build a brand. But, if you're like many local businesses, you see the boost in engagement from those sites, but wonder: how do I translate it into actual foot traffic? Enter the newest (and hottest) kid on the social networking block: Foursquare. Why is this new tool growing so quickly? Mostly because it doesn't only drive traffic to your website, but actually drives customers to your doorstep.

Foursquare is a location-based social networking site that allows people to connect with friends and update their location via text message or by Smartphone. Teaming up with Twitter and Facebook (and now quite possibly Google, Microsoft and Yahoo- Creator Dennis Crowley is in talks with these search engine giants), this allows friends of foursquare users to be notified of their friend’s newest location (and in hopes that more friends will come and join). Foursquare not only promotes human interaction but also exploration of their surroundings. After checking in a certain number of times at a location, users earn badges and points for their location frequency or by discovering something new in their city. Users can find locations in the directory or from friends who are also on foursquare.

What separates Foursquare from Facebook, Twitter or Wikitravel, is that users are participating in a marketing game, by earning points and badges for their travels. This is where Foursquare gets interesting… Foursquare not only encourages people to wander through their neighborhoods, but with the help from local businesses they reward people for stopping in at their location. Business owners can use Foursquare to engage their clientele by offering specials, discounts and prizes for those who continue to update their location on Foursquare while at their venue. People who check-in to a particular location quite a bit are dubbed ‘mayors’ and are eligible to receive a discount, prize or special offer. Cool, right? An example: Cuban Revolution, a hip avant grade restaurant with two locations in Providence, R.I., gives a free sandwich and soda to all ‘mayors of Cuban Revolution’. The owners of business owners are not only being current and participating in a trend of pop culture, but they are also using Foursquare to track how their venue is performing over time due to venue analytics that are provided to business owners.
The best part: users who are checking into your location are doing some of the marketing and promotion for you to individuals who may never have even thought of visiting your store or restaurant. Talk about social networking.

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