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What to Watch Out for When Running a Foursquare Campaign

When you decide to run a Foursquare campaign for your business, make sure all of your employees know what Foursquare is.

I don’t want to rush release a Foursquare special campaign for my two hotels. The Gap is a good example of what happens when you release a campaign, and not all of your employees know exactly what you’re doing. 

I recently learned that The Gap is running a special for 25% off your entire purchase for Foursquare users.  I haven’t been to The Gap in years (my college wardrobe consisted of Forever 21 and Hanes men’s t-shirts with black spandex) so since I needed some new “real people” clothing I figured going to The Gap (with 25%) off would be a great idea.

But today when I went to The Gap, instead of being granted the Foursquare promotion and feeling like I was a valued customer, I felt embarrassed.

When I went to ring up my items the employee at my local Gap wasn’t as excited as I was to redeem this offer. He, and the customers behind me, laughed when I said I wanted to use my Foursquare special for 25% off. “Oh, the hopscotch special with the magic code” he said sarcastically (and I know sarcasm, I speak it fluently), “right, let me enter that in…”

I smiled back (although I guarantee I was beet red) and tried to politely ask if I was the first one to unlock the special at that particular store.

“Yes,” he said “…and the code your phone gave me actually didn’t work. But don’t worry, I let you have another offer anyway…”

I was thrown off for several reasons. The first, was that the employee was acting as if he was doing me a favor by allowing me to use the 25% off deal that his company was advertising, even though the promotion code was incorrect. He told me he wasn’t sure if “my deal” was legitimate. The second, was that he chimed in with the customers behind me and made fun of Foursquare-even though Foursquare itself was the only reason I was in his store. I think this is an example of what can go wrong if a Foursquare campaign hits a national level, and your employees don’t know what Foursquare is.

I realize I have a bit of a digital obsession, and that I know a little more than the general public about smartphones, but I’m not that out of the ordinary. For a cashier to mock someone for trying to redeem one of their promotions is pretty offsetting. I don’t think I’ll fall into to the Gap again anytime soon, but I did enjoy the deal itself (I saved $66) and the clothes I purchased.

UPDATE: 2:37p.m. 8/18/2010

I just received received an e-mail from The Gap addressing my issue with their Foursquare campaign. I think this is an extremely good example of customer service-.I would be remiss if I didn't include how they did in fact contact me in this post. 

Join The Conversation

  • Aug 16 Posted 5 years ago Kira (not verified)

    Well much hasn't changed in a year (when the last comment was posted).  For ages I'd check in at different locations and see that American Eagle (a store I hadn't shopped in before), had a Foursquare special on - 15% off.  Since I needed some new jeans I thought I'd check it out. 

    The sales people didn't know anything about it however they were quite pleasant about the whole thing.  They didn't know how to ring it in but put it under another category.  Although, it was a bit embarassing asking for the discount and a line-up did form behind me as they figured out what to do - they handled the situation really well and made me a fan of their store.

    So, maybe things have changed in a year - or the staff at AE are way more accomodating then the Gap.

  • Aug 24 Posted 6 years ago cp22 (not verified)

    I had a similar problem with the Gap discount.  The salespeople first looked at me like I had 3 heads when I showed it to them, then they said it couldn't be combined with another offer I was using (even though it did not say this at all on Foursquare, and the other offer I had explicitly said it could be combined).  I didn't feel like getting into it or making a scene so I just let it go, but it was still very frustrating.  I just got the feeling that they didn't want to figure out how to make it work with my purchase. 

  • Aug 24 Posted 6 years ago kam (not verified)

    I had this exact scenario playout when I went to redeem my mayor special at Starbucks back in June. I was mocked and in exchange I quit going to that location. I also sent corporate a little note letting them know that while I enjoy their coffee I wouldnt be returning to that location due what had happened. They were apologetic and sent me a free drink coupon.

    I think foursquare offers a fun service but if the customer service isnt there, it takes the fun out of it.

  • Aug 24 Posted 6 years ago Chris Houchens (not verified) This is what happed to the Starbucks Foursquare campaign. I wrote a post about it last month:
  • Aug 24 Posted 6 years ago Chris Houchens (not verified) This is what crashed the Starbucks Foursquare campaign. I wrote a post about it last month:
  • Aug 20 Posted 6 years ago Dan Calladine (not verified)

    I'm calling it Hopscotch from now on... ;-)

  • Aug 19 Posted 6 years ago Troy Tinnes (not verified)

    I think this goes to show, that many times social media campaigns are poorly planned and executed because the tech savvy head-office types do not 1) provide the proper training to the customer-facing staff 2) mis-judge the impact and reach of the promotion, thinking only a select few techy-types will actually utilize the promotion and 3) underestimate the negative impact that social media promotions can have when they are poorly executed. 

    Starbucks ran a promotion here in Vancouver several weeks ago, giving the 4sq "Mayor" a free drink when they came in. I happened to be the mayor of one place and had the same deer-in-the-headlights look when I went in to claim it. In the end - I got the drink as well, but since the manager came over and just did a sale override, I am certain from an accounting perspective, Starbucks never got the free drink associated with the 4sq promotion and so corporate missed statistics on how well the promotion did in the market. 

    Having said this though, it is encouraging that big business is taking the chance to reach out to try social media applications such as these for their marketing campaigns. Hopefully through a few iterations and from blog feedback such as this, the forward thinking companies that give this marketing channel a shot will realize the potential of these tools and hopefully do a better job of planning ahead. 

  • Aug 19 Posted 6 years ago jorge fernandez (not verified) I had a similar experience at radioshack yesterday. I checked in to a business at a shopping center and the "special offer" green tag appeared on 4sq. It was a 10% discount at the radioshack next door. I was curious so I went to the store and ask about the offer. A) no one knew about the promotion, heard of it, or knew how to ring it up. B) they offered some other promotion which was different than what was on foursquare if I offered my email address. It was disappointing. Businesses engaging in these sort of offers better get their act together before going live. I'd be curious to hear of the successful foursquare campaigns and how they implemented them.
  • PamMoore's picture
    Aug 19 Posted 6 years ago PamMoore

    Megan - this post cracked me up.  I can see myself in your shoes.  I often wonder if I too am a digi geek, which i know I am.  I agree with you 100%! Biz's must realize that social media needs to be integrated into their processes, sales training, DNA of how they do biz.  What a disappointment you were treated like such for a campaign they offered.  I always tell my clients that they only have one time to make a first impression.  It's always a balance of time to market with a good first impression.

    Heck at least you got some "big people clothes."  I need some too.  These days my wardrobe consists of biz casual or gym attire.  No in between! :(  

    Anyway thanks for a fun post! I look forward to connecting with you in geek land! :) 


  • Aug 18 Posted 6 years ago Clean Cut Media (not verified)

    I actually read about that 25% special, but before I even considered going to the store I read several comments on different blogs about how the store employees had no idea what it was and it was an immediate turn off. Indeed, communication could have been better. thanks for sharing megan.

  • Aug 18 Posted 6 years ago Tammy Young (not verified)

    Excellent point. Good communication and understanding internally is vital, but the poor customer service you received is inexcusable. Who's doing who a favor here?

    Good customer service should have made up for any miscommunication. Being respectful toward a customer and treating them well goes a long way - even farther than 25% (although it sounds like you did really well).

  • Aug 18 Posted 6 years ago Russ (not verified) Megan- Good read and I think it's ridiculous how you were treated at The Gap. I also think the Marketing mangers for The Gap would be more than a little annoyed that the time and money that went into that campaign had been wasted by a moron making 6 bucks an hour. Like any promotional tool, education of staff is key. I've had similar experiences here in Milwaukee with local (not chain) restaurants running Foursquare specials, then getting blank stares from wait staff when I ask about them. Business owners: Educate EVERYONE! Even if you think you told someone, tell them again. 2.5 million users on Foursquare can't be wrong.
  • Aug 18 Posted 6 years ago Taylor Siebert (not verified)

    Yeah the same thing happened to my wife.  I made her take her phone and check-in and the manager had to come up and tell her that it wasn't going to work and had no idea what it was...disappointing.

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