Foursquare Fun for Start-ups, Businesses, and You

by Liz Gallo

Image Source: Foursquare

Recently, the growing geo-location based social network, Foursquare reached 10 million users.  Foursquare allows users to ‘check-in’ to a location and see which of their friends are nearby. The service began in March of 2009 by Dennis Crowly and Naveen Selvadurai. On June 20th their blog posted an info-graphic that shows the company’s growth in check-ins, users, and listed venues (apparently, there are 1,105 Beer Halls listed in Germany).

Following the 10 million user’s post, Foursquared blogged June 24th that they were “Planning for the Future.” The service announced that it had raised 50 million in a new round of funding due no doubt in part to its impressive growth.

I myself, being an early adopter of Foursquare and a Digital Media Strategist, often receive questions about how businesses can use the service. Last Thursday, I had at least three conversations about Foursquare. One was with a Toronto based community youth arts organization, The Remix Project, who is looking to innovate. One of my suggestions to them was creating temporary venues for their fundraising events. Then, they can encourage attendees to check-in thus spreading the word about their event and their organization. These conversations showed that while Foursquare is 10 million strong, individuals and businesses still have many questions about how to use the service.   It is important for marketing managers, PR professionals, social media strategists, or whoever is involved in creating a promotional strategy, to find the best ways to incorporate Foursquare.

Image Source: Slyce Marketing

Here are a few of my basic tips:

  1. First and foremost, if you are a business with a location whether it be offices, a store, or a club, CLAIM YOUR VENUE! Many businesses feel it is not necessary if they are not a store or restaurant. However, even B2B businesses should claim their offices. For organizations that hold events, like The Remix Project, create temporary venues for events.
  2. Check-in to places that are relevant to your niche. A ‘check-in’ tells your friends and followers you are at a certain location. You do not have to check-in everywhere, every day. Instead focus on checking-in to places that are relevant to your business or your interests.
  3. Tips, Tips, Tips and more Tips. Leave tips at venues that are again relevant to your niche.
  4. Embrace the game-play. Foursquare allows users to collect badges, win mayorships for checking-in to a venue most often, etc. Use these to hold contests and giveaways at your events.
  5. Incorporate Foursquare into your other social media and websites. Through widgets on your website or connecting it to your twitter, Foursquare can compliment a business’s other online efforts.

Some of my favorite Foursquare users/businesses are BravoTV, US soccer, and Ellen.  These three brands make the most of the service by using tips relating to their shows, check-in contests, and exclusive badges.  However, you don’t need to be a big brand to benefit. From simply claiming your venue to contests and elaborate scavenger hunts, even a small business or new start-up can increase their exposure using Foursquare.

Liz Gallo is a Digital Media Strategist, new media writer and tweeter. She received her master’s from NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program in 2008 and participated in the Canadian Film Centre’s MediaLab in 2010. Currently, she works with a range of clients developing digital media strategies.  She is also a music lover and a sports fan, in addition to being a pretty awesome big sister and kitty mommy. Find out more at http://lizgallo.com or follow her on twitter, http://twitter.com/@lizgallo.

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