Some would say that Foursquare has blasted into the scene of location based social networking applications with a vengeance. I would tend to agree with that sentiment. The best way to describe the service is to actually use the source. From the Foursquare site:

People use foursquare to “check-in”, which is a way of telling us your whereabouts. When you check-in someplace, we’ll tell your friends where they can find you and recommend places to go & things to do nearby. People check-in at all kind of places – cafes, bars, restaurants, parks, homes, offices.

You’ll find that as your friends use foursquare to check-in, you’ll start learning more about the places they frequent. Not only is it a great way to meet up with nearby friends, but you’ll also start to learn about their favorite spots and the new places they discover.

Just so we are clear… I have realized the full potential of Foursquare in my personal business and I have seen it being used across a multitude of different users… from power users to newbies. I use Foursquare as a way to keep track of where I have been and what I have experienced.

What I strive to accomplish while writing this blog is to give the reader practical uses of emerging digital technology and ideas to use them effectively. So let’s get this party started!

1. Create Your Business on the Foursquare Platform

Before you start making piles of money using Foursquare it is important that you setup your business/location on the website. Go to Foursquare’s Business Page to setup your account. You have the opportunity to setup a venue or a brand. Start the process and get rocking!
Also check out Jason Fall’s post – Quick Tips to Creating a Branded Foursquare Page.

2. Encourage Foursquare Users to Check in and Post Reviews about Your Location

Foursquare allows a user to view where their friends have been within 3 hours of a certain update. This could have huge potential (for example) for a hotel chain. Inc Magazine posted an article about using Foursquare for business called, How To Best Utilize the New Foursquare for Business, to give you a better idea of how to use the new Foursquare for business. A hotel, sauna, or day spa could encourage Foursquare users to check into a given location and put brief thoughts about the service in their tip updated.

Example : Give users of Foursquare a discount on their tab for a favorable tip update. (This could also be applied to any social network)

3. Use the Points Structure of Foursquare to Support a Local Charity

Users will gain points when they accomplish certain activities like checking in, making multiple stops in a day, adding a new venue, making a repeat visit, or consecutively checking into a certain location. Encourage users to rack up the points and put a value to the points they are accruing (Ex: $0.04 per point). At the end of the promotion donate the amount of money to a charity. This encourages visits to your business and gives back to those who need our help!

4. Use the “Mayor” Status as a Perk – You Become an Authority Figure

The user that checks in the most at a certain location will gain the notoriety of becoming “mayor” of that location. I have actually witnessed people fight over becoming mayor. If you offered special perks to the mayor of your location (ie: name on a board, gift certificate for the month, free beverage, or maybe a puppy!) it will encourage Foursquare users to visit your location more often.

5. Utilize the To-Do List to Give Users Tasks to Complete – Scott Hepburn

Each business has the potential of creating a to do list for Foursquare users. If you visit a Foursquare page for a business (Click here for an example) you will find a button to create a to-do list. This could be utilized as a contest for people visiting the location. You could offer perks much like the user became a mayor of your location.

Example : Give a to-do list of what the location wants to improve upon in terms of service. Allow users to help improve those services by viewing the to-do list and adding tips for improvement.

6. Encourage Users to Become Superusers of Your Location

When a user becomes a SUPERUSER at your location they have the ability to edit venue information. Some of you may be skeptical and hesitant at giving users the ability to edit YOUR data… but let’s be honest… it isn’t really YOUR data anymore is it? It is easier to have users edit your location information because they are actually using the tool and experiencing your company in a completely different way. Also, this help for annoying bad data that could be spread through different users.

7. Link Your Profile to Twitter

Foursquare gives you the opportunity to link your other social networks to your Foursquare account. This is important because it gives users the same experience/name over all of your individual accounts… from Facebook to Foursquare.

8. Use Tips to Build Activity

According to the Foursquare site – tips are at the center of the activities ecosystem within foursquare – you can add tips from any venue page on can also add a tip to venues via the app when you are on a venue screen.

For best practices on using tips check this out – Adding Tips to Your Foursquare Page

9. Gain Insight About Your Audience

You have the ability to figure out what your audience actually cares about, what they do and how they interact with your brand. Are you taking into account the different data points that can be pulled by the Foursquare site? Use Foursquare to gain more information about your customer and up-sell the customer in the process.

10. Say Thank You To Your Top Customer

Badges, becoming mayor and points allow you to see who are most active within your business. The people with the most points receive badges or become mayors of different locations.  You may (or may not) want to give them discounts or specials but you can definitely say “thank you”. It will help build relationships in the future when you recognize your strong supporters.

11. Listen to the Chatter

Along with saying, “Thank You” to your loyal Foursquare supporters. Listen to them by reading what tips have been written, if your on their “To Do” lists and how often people are actually checking in. By paying attention to these details your business can gauge why, how and what makes YOU stand out. Listening goes a long way in a culture of noise.

12. Use Analytics to Master the Domain

Foursquare has an analytics feature that allows businesses to track trends, usage, demographic, total checkins, if information was shared via Facebook and Twitter. So when planning campaigns, marketing or just raising awareness this feature can help determine where to start.

13. Partner With Other People!

Restaurants, nonprofits, and business have been getting along for years. Now team up in a non-traditional way. For example, When people check-in to the restaurant let them know that a 15% of the meal will go to a cause. This is a vague example but you get the idea. Set a goal and team up with a restaurant to create awareness, increase donations or interact with supporters. This will also provide another opportunity for your business to say, “Thank you.” It will also help in the community

Foursquare is an infant compared to social media titans like Myspace, Facebook, and Twitter… the important thing to remember is that it is growing and people are using it.

Is your business getting reviewed on social applications? You would be surprised…