Remember a few years ago when some of your friends would “check-in” to every damn place they went during a day? Remember how annoyed you were when you’d see these as status updates? Yeah, me too.
But, I eventually became intrigued with what all the fuss was about. More and more people were starting to use gps-based check-in apps and I figured that there must be something cool going on or it wouldn’t be exploding the way it was. This was two years ago.
At the time, Foursquare was primarily just a check-in app. People would let other people know where they were and what they were doing. Photos could be attached and the check-ins could be shared on other social media platforms. The venue lists were kind of a mess and tons of duplicates existed. It was still relatively new, so the base of locations was still in set-up mode. Unfortunately, tons of users took it upon themselves to create the same venue, several times. Yeah, so it was kind of messy at first.
They’ve come a long way and Foursquare as it exists today is much smoother, cleaner and has much more functionality. Venues have also been sorted out for the most part. All of the things I mention above about checking in, sharing and beyond still definitely hold true, but it’s become way more of a social engagement tool. Actual legit brand pages can be created now, just like on Facebook or a slew of other networks. Brands can “check-in” from their computer (they don’t actually have to physically be somewhere) and share photos of different locations they operate, and these can be shared on Twitter and, Facebook, just to name a few. The brand can add “tips” for their venues or locations, and these can be shared as well.
The multiplying effect has huge potential. Fans share a check-in with a photo from your business with all of their Facebook friends. Boom, free advertising.
Unlocking specials is a great tool for businesses to create compelling offers that can help bring in actual revenue. There are several different types that can be set up, they can run for different periods of time and deliver unique rewards. Revenue + social engagement? Win-Win.
Another really cool function from the brand page side is that demographics can be collected on the back-end of users that check-in to your business. While this is only a snapshot of people that use Foursquare and have checked-in, it’s still valuable information. If you use Foursquare a lot and let your fans know about it, this snapshot could become a bigger deal for you as more people become aware and check-in.
You gain followers just like on Twitter and these fans can follow lists you create that pertain to your brand. For example, if you are a restaurant chain, you could have a list for your friendliest family locations in New York with pictures of each location. This helps potential guests and allows you to promote your brand in a creative way. The platform of Foursquare has become a much bigger deal, striking a partnership with American Express, among others. It serves as much more of a travel planner, dining guide or online directory. They’ve done a great job with it and it keeps improving.
Overall, the ability for brands to check-in and humanize their presence, share photos, tips and specific lists, and creative compelling special offers – makes Foursquare a very valuable tool for businesses. More companies should jump in. The more legit venues that exist on Foursquare, the better for all users.