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How to Incorporate Foursquare with Your Marketing Plan

Just about everyone I know loves Foursquare, that fun little application on your mobile device that, unlike most of today’s social media services, promotes physical (as opposed to technological) interactivity with friends and family (oh yeah, family. Both my mom and dad happen to love the service, though they would never admit it). Its location-based platform allows for users to “check-in” to venues, alerting friends of their current whereabouts and encouraging each other to meet up for coffee at a local shopping center or hang out at a popular nightlife spot downtown. It also encompasses a gaming aspect by adding a leaderboard points system,  mayorships to the user who checks in a particular venue most often, and badges as rewards for users’ check-in patterns.

Like Facebook and Twitter, more and more businesses are starting to incorporate Foursquare with their marketing plans. But why? Do you really need another social media application to aid in your marketing strategy? The simple answer is: yes. Social media has integrated itself into our daily lives, and it’s not going away anytime soon. It is also becoming more prominent as an essential tool in brands’ marketing approaches. As modern-day marketers, we have to look beyond Facebook and Twitter and begin using fresh, new marketing platforms to get our message out. Integrating foursquare with your marketing strategy is simple, yet effective. Here’s where you should start:

1. Become a Foursquare user yourself.

Install Foursquare on your mobile device, make an account, and start checking-in! Log-on to the online site, edit your profile, add friends, and familiarize yourself with the basics of what Foursquare is and how to use it. To harness the full potential of Foursquare, you must understand what the service is all about. Once you’ve done this, create a venue page for your business (if it doesn’t already exist) so others can check-in. You can now contact Foursquare about claiming your venue’s page, allowing you to have control over the information displayed, be able to mark your brand’s staff members on Foursquare as such, and offer incentives and rewards for those who check-in. For more information on how to get started, see the Foursquare for Business page.

2. Provide rewards and incentives for mayors and loyal users.

This is what will really drive Foursquare users to your business. Foursquare allows business owners to offer a multitude of rewards for customers who check-in. Popular incentives are merits for the mayor, others who may not check-in to your venue the most often but are still loyal to your brand, and first-time customers. The Chili’s near my house offers one free appetizer upon a customer’s first check-in; a locally owned Mexican restaurant that my friends and I eat at provides free chips and queso for the mayor; California Pizza Kitchen takes 25% off of everyone’s meal if you and three of your friends check-in together; and my favorite frozen yogurt shop offers a free 5oz yogurt on a user’s every 10th check-in. You get the idea. Little incentives like these drive new customers and help retain your not-so-new customers.

3. Cross-platform and be omnipresent.

Foursquare may just be one social network, but it is integrated with both Facebook and Twitter. Use this to your advantage! Encourage those who check-in to your venue to push their location updates to the other social media services they are connected to. Use Facebook and Twitter to promote the Foursquare rewards you are offering. People will in turn begin to tweet and update their Facebook statuses about your business, sparking curiosity and intrigue among their friends. This is a prime example of viral marketing at its finest. The key here is to engage customers in something new and different (Foursquare) with the help of well-established social networking tools (Facebook and Twitter). The most successful marketing campaigns and strategies have consisted of being everywhere as much as possible; and only a truly omnipresent brand will be able to make that happen.

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