Shay Moser By Shay Moser

I have to admit, I haven’t been a big Foursquare app user. I barely used it at one time, and then when I’d get notifications of every place my friends were  “checking-in,” I felt creepy knowing where they were at all times, especially if I hadn’t been invited. Nor did I want them to know where in the world I was every day. Since I was OK with no badges and not being the “mayor” of any one place, I deleted it from my iPhone.

Then the new Foursquare app came out, which does not require people to check-in to use it. Instead, Foursquare’s new sidekick, Swarm, takes care of check-ins if you want to use this feature (a little on that later). So I re-downloaded Foursquare as well as Swarm, just in case. As a relative newcomer to Foursquare I knew I’d be unbiased to the changes. And I wanted to learn how brands are using it to benefit their business.

A Quick Summary of the New Foursquare App, with a Side Note on Swarm

Design-wise, pictures extend over the edges of the screen. The four various sections of the app—“Find a place,” “Here,” Tips, and Profile—are divided off and noticeably indicated on the bottom half of the screen. The signature light blue design embellishments are now French rose accents, including the new logo, which went from a check mark to a combination of map pin and superhero emblem.

Feature-wise, Foursquare re-launched as a local discovery service, utilizing its database of 10,000 “tastes” (i.e., groupings of foods, qualities, and things to do) that the company has gathered from its users’ suggestions and recommendations since its inception in 2009. It uses the information as a guide for users to discover places for breakfast, brunch, lunch, coffee, dinner, dessert, nightlife, shopping, fun, and sights.

Say it’s 4 p.m. on a Friday, and Foursquare is informed from your past check-ins to direct you to a grill and bar’s happy hour a half-mile away. It suggests a place that is providing free appetizers, too, knowing it’s one of your “tastes.” It will also show you suggestions that your friends who use the app have written about the particular place. Similar to Google and Yelp, you’ll also see a list of other local results.

With Swarm, not only can you check-in at the grill and bar once you arrive if you choose to do so. You can also see who’s out nearby, and who wants to hang out later, maybe for dinner and a movie afterward. Since badges and mayor status are frozen in Foursquare, stickers are given in Swarm. You can compete for them with friends who frequent the same places.

So how can savvy businesses leverage the new Foursquare as a location-based marketing tool?

It goes without saying that it’s important to claim your business on the app. This way you can be sure the contact information is correct and update it, maybe add a menu or other location-specific details, connect with customers, and add pictures to complement the ones uploaded by patrons.

Leveraging the Enhanced Tips Feature on Foursquare

Brands have been using Foursquare to add value to people in their area. Businesses have been doing this by sharing inside tips for different places near their establishment. When consumers use the search feature on Foursquare, special tips come up in the neighborhood they’re searching. If you’re a gym owner, for instance, you may have given tips on local restaurant/bars with skinny cocktails and healthy appetizers. The restaurant/bar serving these healthy options may have highlighted local farmer’s markets, such as where they are and when they’re open. While this isn’t selling products or services, it’s engaging with the target audience by adding value through tips.

Businesses can and should still apply these tip techniques to build trust with consumers as well as position their brand as a local expert to their target audience. Now Foursquare highlights the reasons—like low-cal alcoholic beverages and appetizers—customers love their business. Even better, they’ll learn about them through the tips left by satisfied patrons. In addition, businesses can add tips that tell everyone its brand’s best qualities. They’ll show up in a special section of the listing. Plus, they can add discounts and coupons in this area, specifying their time limit—from ongoing to a day, a week, or more. Best of all, customers can help share specials and indicate how long they last.

So let’s review with a local example. Barcade, a craft beer and classic arcade game establishment in Philadelphia, needs to claim its Foursquare listing. Then the owners can add and update all its business information, as well as unlock Foursquare tools like customer rewards, tips, and analytics. To do the same, head over to business.foursquare.com.

These location-based strategies allow local businesses to serve relevant content to the appropriate audience at the best time. Please let us know your success stories using the enhanced tips feature of the new Foursquare. You can even let us know via chat in real time at twoople.com/goldsteinmedia.

 

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Seth Goldstein is the Principal Creative Director at Goldstein Media LLC. He has been in the Web design and Internet marketing business for more than 10 years. A self-proclaimed technologist, Seth is addicted to all types of technology. He loves to help businesses of all sizes figure out the best way to use the Internet to grow their business.

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