20 Ways Businesses Are Using Foursquare

Posted By on Sep 21, 2010 | 10 comments


I know. We are trying to figure this “foursquare” thing out. I understand completely. The research team at Brandswag (Rachel Elsts and Stephanie Gray) decided to put together 20 different ways foursquare is being using in the business setting. Hopefully this will help you in your search to using Foursquare for increased revenue and interaction.

1. Retail stores

Retail Stores are using Foursquare to get shoppers to not only “check-in” but to buy. It’s coupon clicking for retail without the hassle of having to chase a sale. Below are some great examples:

Express “$30 off $90 @ Express stores now-9/14/10, ring code: 2793. Limit 1 offer per customer. Offer must be presented at the time of purchase. Other terms & conditions apply, see store associate for details.”

American Eagle - “Check-in to any A store and unlock a 15% Off discount towards your next merchandise purchase. Expires 9/30/10. Limit one per customer”

2. Restaurants

Restaurants have been among the most popular places to use Foursquare. Many restaurants are being to play around with the application so be sure to “check-in” when your out. Some great examples of restaurants using the application are:

Carrabba’s Italian Grill - “Show that you’re the Mayor of Carrabba’s and enjoy a complimentary dessert with the purchase of an entrée. Grazie!”

Granite City Food & Brewery - “One Complimentary Appetizer or Flatbread for the Mayor!

3. Fitness Clubs

Fitness clubs can engage with clientele by using Foursquare. The Five Seasons Family Sports Club offers this deal for checking in “See Thad, Fitness Director, for your complimentary Personal Training Session. Thank you for being a member. (one per member)” This is a nice incentive for current members to use the application. As a  guest who happens to visit I would consider becoming a member upon discovering this…after all I could be getting a FREE training session.

Currently they have this ad running.

4. The vast majority are doing it- even small business!

Corporations not necessarily related to customer service such as restaurants, retail stores and so forth are using Foursquare. SpinWeb (Indianapolis, IN)
“Since this is your third meeting at SpinWeb, you’ve won a free massage at Healing Key! Ask us for your gift card :) ” Pretty nice incentive and thank you for business gift. Businesses can give a personal gift without having to promote it all over town. It feels exclusive.

5. Parks are using Foursquare.

Parks are slightly different than any other venue. Its a venue where people assume interaction so using Foursquare to heighten this interaction is second nature.  For Instance, Conner Prairie Interactive History Park offers“$2 off General Admission on your first check-in! (one discount per Foursquare account “

6. Want to rule the town?

Mayorship is not a new perk of using Foursquare, but being recognized in the media because you’re the mayor is. Metromix Indy recently ran a cover story with the top mayors all around Indianapolis. Now, some Starbucks are even offering special discounts for “mayors” of their location. It may just be a title, but it does seem to come with fame (and a little fortune.)

7. Sport teams move to Foursquare

Redskins fans are in for a Foursquare reward: check in at the game and obtain a special Redskins badge. With the increase in geolocation social media, football season is sure to start to jump on the Foursquare bandwagon, with the Redskins leading the way. The move into social media will be a great way to measure fan base and game attendance plus the ability to make the game more interactive to fans. And the ultimate reward for constantly checking in at FedEx Field? VIP tickets. Not a bad idea at all.

8. MTV and the Entertainment Industry

MTV recently paired up with Foursquare to offer a contest to users that frequently checked into local music venues. Whatever venue had the secret “Moonman” badge put the user into a contest to win tickets to the VMAs on September 12.

The real question now is what celebs checked in at the actual event?

9. Get a discount on all the books you could ever want.

Borders has entered the digital e-book market and is using Foursquare as a new marketing strategy. Borders said it had started running a promotional campaign focused around Foursquare, where customers would receive a 10 percent discount off all full-priced books after every third Foursquare check-in at a Borders store. Borders is planning to roll out the campaign to all of its 26  stores and would keep the deal going for an initial two months (via Delimiter).

10. Did you check-in before or after you ordered your burger?

At 4food in New York City, the owners are giving customers a chance to rate their food and tell their friends immediately after eating. LED screens are displayed around the restaurant showcasing twitter mentions and Foursquare check-ins, while customers are encouraged to rate their meal during their visit. 4food states that they have yet to spend a dime on advertising, because they let their reputation and customers do it for them…and isn’t that what social media is all about?

11. FREE FOOD.

Two words that have driven crowds to dress up, wait in line and even forced college students to skip class. So how does it apply? Qdoba offered free burritos for those who checked in during a visit and shouted “I’ve been burrito boredom!” Not only does this have consumers become more outgoing due to Foursquare incentives, but the social media advertising has done the chain restaurant wonders.

12. (Socially acceptable) Gaming

With an increase in businesses participating in Foursquare, the competition between friends, peers and even strangers for mayorship/badges has taken gaming to a whole new level. The social media aspect is evident, as most hardcore Foursquare users post their status to various SM sites. However, there is a constant competition of who can become mayor of the workplace, coffee shop, etc. Coworkers “check in” fervently to try and win the title, glory,and available coupons.

13. Voice Recognition

It may not be the most socially acceptable way to check in, but Vlingo has created a way for  the Android app users to “check-in” on Foursquare by voice recognition. It’s a speech check-in feature that will save time, even if it does raise a few eyebrows.

With the new app, Android users can speak a simple “check-in to [insert place name]” command after tapping the home screen button. The command will prompt Vlingo to automatically pull up the location in question, and other nearby venues, on Foursquare, providing users with a fast alternative to touch-based Foursquare check-ins. (via Mashable)

14. Foursquare on Broadway

Have you seen Foursquare in Times Square lately? The geolocation social media app recently had a digital advertisement appear above the American Eagle store in New York City last week, encouraging users to check-in and find their friends. Foursquare is moving up beyond the local Starbucks check-in to the city that never sleeps…moving up has never been so rewarding.

15. SXSW (events) and Foursquare

South by Southwest is a popular music festival in Austin, TX flooded by young adults. The festival has been  integrating technology into the activities for the duration of  the week long event. Three years ago, Twitter dominated and this year Foursquare was all the rage. Over 15 badges specifically created for the festival and SXSW  stated that “Foursquare is a great way to keep track of one’s friends during a busy and crowded day in Austin, TX.”

16. Analytics/Check Stats

Businesses are using Foursquare to track the statistics of their locations in many ways. Here are the real time statistics businesses get insights into:
customer behavior while at venue

  • most recent visitors
  • most frequent visitors
  • the time of day people check in
  • total number of unique visitors
  • histogram of check-ins per day
  • gender breakdown of customers
  • portion of foursquare check-ins broadcast to Twitter and Facebook

17. Foursquare as a Businesses Mobile Application

The application works as a real life walking advertisement; a potential customer checks-in somewhere down the block…they see that nearby there is a special deal just for checking-in…chances are they will visit. Foursquare tells users where the deals are and how to unlock them. Essentially, they drive traffic to your location.

18. Customer Service and Support

Foursquare helps guide the customer to this answer though tips and to do lists via friends on Foursquare. The users who give tips are customers with more than an opinion but an experience. These customers speak on the behalf of the company (good or bad). In a nutshell, customers are checking-in and soon discovering what’s so great about the product, venue or food from relevant sources. Businesses can let the customers speak for them and use their word of mouth  to spread the love.

19. Managing an Online Reputation

The application appeals to tech-savvy users and companies use it to promote themselves on various social media channels. Social media allows companies to have greater control of their online reputations. Foursquare is another way a business to manage its reputation by engaging with customers that they know have been to their location.

20. It’s still an open playing field.

Businesses are still figuring Foursquare out, which means now is the time to figure out a locations strategy. Businesses can bring all the things that make social networking fun straight through their doors.  Foursquare offer incentives ( a reason to visit the location), a game and a way to connect with friends. Why not play?

  • http://gosestories.com Chuck Gose

    It's probably smart for Foursquare place restrictions on promotions, but many businesses aren't permitted to list official Foursquare promotions because they are not a restaurant, coffee shop, movie theater, etc.

    It would be easy for businesses to get around this by simply tagging themselves a bit differently BUT that's gaming the system, which I'm sure Foursquare doesn't want.

  • http://www.tkographix.com Randy Clark

    How about B2B? Has anyone found a way to use 4sq effectively with B2B? How about when a biz uses a product or service of another?

  • PC

    As a college pastor, I use foursquare to check in at coffee shops and other venues my students can find me. If my students are in the area, I will commonly get a text message moments after checking in; "Are you still at that place…can I stop by?"

  • brettgreene

    Wow Kyle. I've followed a lot of case studies for geolocation, but you put together an awesoemely comprehensive list here. thanks for sharing this. It's amazing to see what's not happening with BrightKite since they pioneered this market in 2005. It would be great to also see what Gowalla, Whrrl and Scvngr are doing as well as what Facebook Places will inevitably do int this space.

  • Pingback: Foursquare’s “Mayor” of Indy | Sands Media LLC at ScottSands.com

  • http://www.spinweb.net Michael Reynolds

    Thanks so much for the mention! We would be thrilled to give away some gift card to our clients who visit us :) Great list!

  • http://econsultancy.com Matt Owen

    Hey Kyle – great post. Geolocation has been touted for a while as the 'next big thing' in M-Commerce, and it's good to see such a comprehensive list of campaigns.

    Of course, measuring how useful location services are in delivering new business is still an area for debate (see McDonalds recent 'Foursquare Day' confusion: http://bit.ly/btOqhN ), but in terms of creating buzz and positive sentiment, I think Foursquare and Gowalla are fantastic. If you'll excuse the self-promotion, we published a mobile statistics guide ( http://bit.ly/aw4HPd) which showed a consistant increase in mobile traffic, so businesses of all sizes would be wise not to underestimate these initiatives – now we just have to see how they fare in the face of 'Facebook Places'!

  • sidraisch

    Using 4sq for a practical purpose helped me see the benefit to the user. At a restaurant the other day the menu showed their signature appetizer available as a meal. I bit. First out came a micro-salad. I mean a plate with hardly a cup of mixed lettuce on it. My associate ordered a side-salad which was a reasonable portion. I should have commented on 4sq about it, and wish someone had before me. Now I get it. Now your list clarifies the benefit from the merchant view. The restaurant would have also benefited by knowing they were sending negative vibes with the micro-salad, and taking the opportunity to change that silly idea.

  • chrisconder

    saw the first hotel yesterday thanking a customer on twitter for checking into them with foursquare. I thought that was a well smart move. @MO_HKG (the Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong)
    chris

  • http://www.SeeJaneExplore.com Jane

    Good to know that Borders is trying it out. I was in a Chili's not too long ago and mentioned to the waitress that if checked in on Foursquare, my party and I would receive a free order of chips and salsa. She didn't know anything about Foursquare nor the offer. I asked her to check with her manager who did know. Thus, we received 3 orders of chips and salsa for a party of 7!!

  • http://e-worldbuzz.blogspot.com/ Eliza Karampetian

    Of course why not to play? As you mention in the end, Foursquare offers a lot of incentives: a reason to visit the location, a game and a way to connect with friends. I think Foursquare benefits both parties at the same time. The user benefit by getting all these special presents if they "check-in" and businesses increase their online reputation.It is nice because companies can see what the other says about their companies in real time and also they can track the stastics of their visitors. Foursquare seems to be the new social media tool for promotion and increase of awareness and I think companies should start familiarising with it!