In later October our community had the chance to connect with Carmine Gallo, the author of The Power of foursquare, during a well-attended webinar on The Power of foursquare: 7 Innovative Ways to Get Your Customers to Check in Wherever They Are. Our friends, followers and customers learned the importance of incorporating foursquare, the fastest growing location-based service, into their social media marketing efforts. I recalled the excitement about the vast opportunities related to location-based networks like foursquare when Mike Schneider discussed key takeaways from his book Location-Based Marketing for Dummies at our Awareness Social Media Business Summit. Social marketers are clearly seeing the potential of engaging with customers on the go - in 2010 alone, there were 381 million check-ins on the foursquare platform alone. That number climbed to 1 billion in 2011.
In this blogpost we'll share the power of C-H-E-C-K-I-N, or the seven ways to unlocking your business potential by using foursquare: Connect with Your Brand, Harness New Fans, Engage Your Followers, Create Rewards, Knock-Out the Competition, Incentivize Your Customers, Never Stop Entertaining, based on Gallo's The Power of Foursquare.
Connect with Your Brand
If you're a restaurant owner or a coffee shop, you can easily draw in patrons with a free drink or dessert. But what if you're in real estate agency? How do you get noticed and stay top of mind with potential customers? Corcoran Group, one of the premier real estate groups in New York City, used clever listening to unearth opportunities to provide useful city information to potential buyers and introduce their brand to them. Corcoran mined hard-to-find insights about special offers in the city and in turn provided "insider" tips to NY residents through foursquare. They discovered that The Shake Shack, a very popular burger joint, was near one of Corcoran's Manhattan offices. With its excessive lines, The Shake Shack can sometimes experience excessive lines with waiting times of up to 45 minutes. Corcoran found out there was this secret line called the B-line, where patrons can order anything else on their menu except a burger in no time. Corcoran then used this information to tip the Shake Shack patrons about the B-line. By being plugged into their community and understanding the pain points of their potential customers, Cocoran was able to connect with them in a clever way and create a positive connection and experience with their brand - so when Shake Shack customers are looking for real-estate help, they would think of the Corcoran Group. Clever, indeed.
Harness New Fans
Carmine shared a personal anecdote of how a clever use of foursquare by a local restaurant in San Francisco had him, his wife and some friends, spent more on a meal than they were planning to. While checking into the restaurant, he noticed Max's on The Square was offering a special on the ultimate chocolate cake. This special offer caught the group's interest and they ended up ordering the dessert - which turned out to be pretty good.
Engage Your Followers
Don't be quick to conclude that location-based services are good for coupons only. foursquare can be used to build meaningful connections with your customers via clever use of unique content. For example, UC Berkeley uses foursquare to offer historical tips about various locations on their campus. A coffee shop may looks like any other on the outside but should you check into its location via foursquare, you will learn about its role during the Free Speech Movement (FSM).
foursquare offers unique ways to pay tribute to and recognize your most loyal customers. Take note of how one Baltimore restaurant, Miss Shirley's, did not get sidetracked by its popularity and offered a special way to treat its most loyal customers - their foursquare mayors. Miss Shirley's patrons do not have to line up for the restaurant's popular brunches - in fact they priority seating for them and up to three of their friends. Or learn from AJ Bombers in Milwaukee who frequently utilizes "swarm" rewards via foursquare. People who check in at the same time are organized into groups and offered a special. The owner attributes Foursquare to 30-50% of his profits. As Gallo put, quoting Naveen Selvadurai, the co-founder foursquare: "When you're the mayor you might be the coolest person in the room for five minutes. Who doesn't want recognition?"
Incentivize your Customers
You don't always need to incentivize with free drinks or food. Citing a non-profit called Earth Justice, Gallo shared that, in a two-week foursquare promotion, the non-profit raised $50,000. Earth Justice rented billboards around San Francisco and allowed people to check into them - in return, for each check-in they had an anonymous donor donate $10 to a cause. In another successful ROI story, Radio Shack calculated that customers who unlock a foursquare special spend 3.5 times more than their average customer.
Never Stop Entertaining
A designer shoe icon made popular by 'Sex and the City,' Jimmy Choo held a foursquare promotion in London to celebrate the launch a new $500 shoe model. Shoppers were encouraged to check-in to one of Choo locations to win a free pair. The result - 4,000 people checked in during the two-week period, and sales of that shoe model went up 33%. Engaging your customers in a fun way attracts attention to your brand and helps drive sales.
Five Pitfalls to Avoid
As with any other platform, foursquare requires some careful planning. Gallo pointed out a few critical areas brands need to consider:
- No employee training: Employees need to be informed and trained to how to properly execute your foursquare initiatives.
- Lame Specials: Don't ask customers to check in 10 times before giving a discount. Offer meaningful incentives.
- Ignoring the Mayor: You may think this is an obvious one but lots of businesses don't recognize their mayors. Treat your most loyal customer with the utmost respect.
- Poor Customer Service: Make sure you have your house in order before opening up the world to it. If foursquare members have a bad experience, they will not come back - in fact, they may tarnish your brand reputation.
- Doing it just to do it: Do it because you believe in it, not because it's the hot new marketing tool.
Have you had success with foursquare? Planning new, exciting campaigns on the platform? Share your best practices, success stories and question with our community on Twitter, Facebook at Awareness, Inc., Social Media Marketing Best Practices and Social Media Marketing Mavens pages, and in our LinkedIn Social Media Marketing Mavens Group.