Foursquare has always been about encouraging people to explore their town and discover new places and things to do and eat. By using tips and to-do’s and highlighting trending locations it provided an interesting way to find out what people liked, where they had previously been and what they thought about the place.
Version 3 of Foursquare has just been released and with it they’ve really revised the way users will interact and find venues – and because of that SMB’s have the ability to benefit more than ever before. Previously I wrote an article on “Local Search Marketing using Foursquare” which is still a great lead-in to this post as the same underlying reasons of why a business should use Foursquare to begin with still apply. But lets talk about what small business can get out of Foursquare 3.
Better Venue Discovery
To start they’ve reworked how users discover new venues with a new recommendation engine. All of the tips and todos out there from users, their friends, and the whole foursquare community are being worked into an algorithm to provide users with “personalized recommendations.” The new Explore tab will help users more accurately find what they’re looking for by matching their search keyword with all of the mentioned data and providing recommendations on where to go. They don’t have to search as buttons for Food, Coffee, Nightlife, Shops and Entertainment are right up top for quick access. The possibilities of what this algorithm can do are amazing thinking of the amount of data they’re playing with and with how fast they’re growing. Expect much more to come from this in the future.
As a side note, the Yelp app already has similar functionality but their search is horrible in my opinion and their location data is mediocre at best – and updates are rare it seems. This Explore tab is a direct shot at Yelp’s Nearby tab and so far seems to be better at it.
SMB Take away: If your business is claimed and categorized properly with descriptive tags, it will be easier for your customers to find you with Foursquare 3.0.
The Leaderboard received a major overhaul from its simple points-based system. It has been broken for a while, mostly due to the “leaderboard spammers,” and Foursquare knew it. They’ve replaced it with a “7-day barometer of you and your friends.”
Check-ins can now assign points to many different things, such as finding new places, trying new types of restaurants, visiting new cities, getting together with groups of people and checking in with friends and a few others. So think multiple threads of assigning points… On one checking they have more chances to earn points for different things based on friend’s they’re with, location, venue type etc.
SMB Take away: The psychology in gamification (game mechanics) makes people play. Game mechanics is a whole other discussion but intrinsic motivators in Foursquare will in turn bring you the players.
With Foursquare 3 there are also six new types of foursquare Specials for merchants – so think past giving rewards only to the mayor or for their 5th checkin. There’s also more variety in what kinds of specials businesses can offer, so more people can be in touch with your generosity.
For example you can now offer specials for “swarms.” People actually have swarm parties to try and obtain that reward badge, and now you can offer them a discount at your business if they can unlock it. So they’re going to get 50+ people in your business to help unlock it… and you did nothing other than take 10 min to validate your venue and setup the special.
Foursquare is also helping promote venue specials nearby a user by placing a bright orange banner at the bottom of the places page (main screen to find and check-in to a venue). Specials nearby have their own screen in the app to showcase those businesses, and only those with specials – currently it defaults to a 2-mile radius of their current location. So if you are running a special in Foursquare you’ll automatically get more exposure to everybody using Foursquare within 12.57 square miles of your location; for free… How long would it take you to pass out a coupon to everybody in those 12.57 square miles, all day, every day? See what I mean?
SMB Take away: There are now more options than ever for you to be creative and set up a special that fits your business and your customers. Set up a special because you’ll get even more free promotion now with the new version.
Some quick Foursquare stats
Foursquare is nearing 7.5 Million users, 93% of them have joined in the last year. In that same year, there have been 500 Million check-ins.
That folks is an extremely active community and if you’re not getting in front of those consumer eyeballs you’re really missing out. Did I mention none of this costs you any money? It takes a half hour at best to set it all up and have it running all day every day. There’s a term in my industry called “geo-fencing”. That term means to you that anybody that steps in your geo-fenced area (that 12.57sqmi zone) can instantly see your advertisement message; for free!
– You first need to have claimed your business – it’s really easy now; search for it on foursquare.com or add a venue if it’s not there; hit “claim business” on your venue page; a robot calls you and you input a number to validate; done!
– You need to make sure your business is in the right category and tag it with terms describing your business. Are you a coffee shop that also sells tea? Tag it. Don’t spam it, but put some keywords that people are looking for: burgers, tea, karaoke, live bands, whatever…
– Set up a special – and don’t be boring with just a special for the mayor. If there’s a guy that’s on your patio every single day and he plays Foursqaure, it’s going to be hard for any of your other customers to participate so maybe do a group deal, or frequent visitor special. Mix it up, be creative. Read more into the new specials you can run here.
– Finally, promote that you’re on Foursquare… your menus, web site, signs, business cards, tv’s, your servers and employees… make sure they know what’s going on and are talking about it – nobody likes a clueless employee.
I hope you took something away from this and see the benefits of this tool. I’ve seen it do wonders for my clients and being a big Foursquare user myself, I hope to see more businesses “get it” and start becoming part of the conversation and community that’s all around them.