Includes a great ‘Consumer Recommendations‘ feature - “Explore” and a range of new specials / loyalty mechanisms for merchants and with it they’ve really revised the way users will interact and find venues – and because of that SMB’s have the ability to benefit more than ever before.
Foursquare is nearing 7.5 Million users worldwide, 93% of them have joined in the last year. In that same year, there have been 500 Million check-ins. All signs are that FourSquare is becoming more fashionable here in the UK, so don’t get left behind, as I have said on this blog before “Its not too late to be early” !
That folks is an extremely active community and if you’re not getting in front of those consumer eyeballs (putting your business ‘where the eyes are‘) you’re really missing out ! Did I mention none of this costs you any money ? It takes a half hour at best to set it all up and have it running all day – every day. UNFORTUNATELY, here in the UK there is a significant delay in the ‘Business Verification’ process because we only have the ‘Mail my PIN’ option but it’s rumoured that this could change to the same phone option as the US sometime soon ? So I think its worth trying to get in there early ? With its nearly 8 million users Foursquare has broken away from its immediate LBS rivals: Gowalla, Loopt etc. It’s now competing on a larger playing field with Facebook, Yelp, Google and Groupon.
There’s a term in our world called “Geo-fencing”. That term means to you that anybody that steps in your ‘geo-fenced’ area (that’s about a 12 & a half square mile zone) can instantly see your advertisement message for free !
With Foursquare 3.0 there are also six new types of Foursquare Specials for merchants – so think past giving rewards only to the mayor or for their 5th check-in. There’s also more variety in what kinds of specials businesses can offer, so more people can be in touch with your generosity.
For example you can now offer specials for “swarms.” People actually have swarm parties to try and obtain that ‘Reward Badge’, and now you can offer them a discount at your business if they can unlock it. So they’re going to get 50+ people in your business to help unlock it… and you did nothing other than take 10 min to validate your venue and setup the special.
Foursquare is also helping promote venue specials nearby a user by placing a bright orange banner at the bottom of the places page (main screen to find and check-in to a venue). Specials nearby have their own screen in the App to showcase those businesses, and only those with specials – currently it defaults to a 2-mile radius of their current location. So if you are running a special in Foursquare you’ll automatically get more exposure to everybody using Foursquare within 12.5 square miles of your location; for free ! . . . How long would it take you to pass out a coupon to everybody in those 12.5 square miles, all day, every day ? See what I mean ?
Small Business Owners Tip - There are now more options than ever for you to be creative and set up a special that fits your business and your customers. Set up a special because you’ll get even more free promotion now with the new version.
This Foursquare blog post reports are a wide range of specials now:
“Business will now be able to offer Specials to swarms, groups of friends, regulars, newbies, Mayors, or simply to everyone. And, on the Places screen in the app, you’ll now see a list of all the Specials nearby, so it’s easier to find places that reward foursquare users. With over a quarter million businesses verified on foursquare, these new tools will mean more rewards for users everywhere in the world.”
Business owners can manage campaigns at one premises or across thousands of venues, making Foursquare appealing for franchises and businesses with multiple outlets. They have really improved their analytics, which will now show:
Business owners will also be able to view aggregate stats across multiple venues and the number of times a Special is viewed -v- actually unlocked.”
This also answers one of my big complaints about Foursquare — that it can’t be used to actually ‘find‘ places, only when you’re already there. To start they’ve reworked how users discover new venues with a new recommendation engine. All of the tips and todos out there from users, their friends, and the whole foursquare community are being worked into an algorithm to provide users with “personalised recommendations.” The new Explore tab will help users more accurately find what they’re looking for by matching their search keyword with all of the mentioned data and providing recommendations on where to go. They don’t have to search as buttons for Food, Coffee, Nightlife, Shops and Entertainment are right up top for quick access. The possibilities of what this algorithm can do are amazing thinking of the amount of data they’re playing with and with how fast they’re growing. Expect much more to come from this in the future.
Wisely the company is pursuing both brands and SMBs. Tristan Walker (Foursquare Biz Dev Chief) said that last year there were 900 SMBs on Foursquare now there are 250,000 (probably claiming venues). There are still enormous challenges from an SMB acquisition perspective and Foursquare will probably start working with channel partners to reach SMBs.
As a side note, the Yelp App already has similar functionality but their search is horrible in my opinion and their location data is mediocre at best – and updates are rare it seems. This Explore tab is a direct shot at Yelp’s Nearby tab and so far seems to be better at it.
Small Business Owners Tip - If your business is claimed and categorised properly with descriptive tags, it will be easier for your customers to find you with Foursquare 3.0.
The ‘Points’ Leaderboard received a major overhaul from its simple points-based system. It has been broken for a while in the US, mostly due to the “leaderboard spammers,” and Foursquare knew it. They’ve replaced it with a “7-day barometer of you and your friends.”
‘Check-ins’ can now assign points to many different things, such as finding new places, trying new types of restaurants, visiting newtowns , getting together with groups of people and checking in with friends and a few others. So think multiple threads of assigning points… On one checking they have more chances to earn points for different things based on friend’s they’re with, location, venue type etc.
SMB Take away: The psychology in gamification (game mechanics) makes people play. Game mechanics is a whole other discussion but intrinsic motivators in Foursquare will in turn bring you the players.
- You first need to have claimed your business – it’s really easy now; search for it on foursquare.com or add a venue if it’s not there, hit “Claim business” on your venue page, in the US they will call you with a validation PIN but here in the UK you will have to opt for the mail option to your Business Premises, unfortunately there is the inevitable time delay with this process ! (Ggggrrrr . . . . !)
- You need to make sure your business is in the right category and tag it with terms describing your business. Are you a coffee shop that also sells ‘Tea’ ? Tag it . . . but don’t spam it, but put some keywords that people are looking for: Estate Agent, Prom Dresses, whatever . . .
- Set up ‘A Special’ – and don’t be boring with just a special for ‘The Mayor’. If there’s a guy that passes your door every single day and he plays FourSquare, it’s going to be hard for any of your other customers to participate so maybe do a group deal, or frequent visitor special. Mix it up, be creative. Read more into the new specials you can run here.
- Finally, promote that you’re on Foursquare… your menus, web site, signs, business cards, tv’s, your servers and employees… make sure they know what’s going on and are talking about it – nobody likes a clueless employee.
I really liked the SCVNGR concept, which I thought was really cool because they were the first to really add in more ‘Gamification’ to the mix and it made it interesting – but with the lack of use it’s not as interesting to play by yourself so to speak. FourSquare is well beyond early adopters and into the early majority.
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