Who's Foursquare Mayor of your local business? If you don't have a clue what I'm talking about, but would like to join the hottest, hippest new social networking tool for promoting a local business, read on. I'll explain Foursquare -- the still tiny but fast-growing mobile app phenomenon that could become the Twitter of 2010.
Foursquare combines elements of both Facebook and Twitter into a mobile social networking tool that lets users -- mostly 20- and 30-somethings in urban areas -- locate each other via mobile posts and join up at popular places. It's a friend-finder, electronic game and city guide all rolled into one, and thousands of small businesses nationwide are quickly jumping on board.
Foursquare encourages people to explore the cities in which they live and frequent the places they like best, including favorite restaurants, pubs, coffee shops, galleries, bookstores, bakeries, markets, pizza joints, chocolate stores, bowling allies, wine bars and hundreds of other types of local businesses. Upon arrival at your business, a Foursquare user can check-in with the service via cell phone, thus alerting friends to their current location. ... users earn points and "badges" for discovering new things and participating in the service. A user who checks in often enough to a specific location becomes "mayor" of that business.
And here's where you come in. Hundreds of business owners are now offering special deals and discounts to their "mayors" and would-be mayors. In essence, they are using Foursquare as a way to reward some of their best and most loyal customers. For example, Spud Bros restaurant in Boulder, CO, posted an offer on Twitter for a free meal to the first person who became Mayor of Spud Bros via Foursquare. Other local businesses are offering freebies and discounts based on the number of times a customer checks in with Foursquare while at their location. Some local businesses are encouraging users to show their phones to servers and cashiers to prove their loyalty to a particular business, and perhaps get a free drink, side order, ticket discount or some other reward.
The Foursquare for Businesses section of the Foursquare website now has a long list of businesses that have established special offers to Foursquare users, complete with link to a profile of the business with details of the offer, map, hours and other information. The number of cities where Foursquare has significant penetration is still small, but growing. Offers posted on the site come from all sorts of local businesses, including a bake shop in Austin, TX, a grill and pub in Columbus, GA; several restaurants in Minneapolis, a pizza place in Raleigh, NC, a mattress store in Pittsburgh, a club in Palm Harbor, FL and hundreds more in major cities such as Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, New Orleans, Phoenix, San Francisco, Denver and many others.
In the digital marketing world, this is known as a location based service, and it is part of a trend toward location-based advertising that seeks to put offers in front of customers and prospects right on the spot via their mobile devices. Foursquare -- or services like it that may soon evolve -- have the potential to connect web advertising, offers and recommendations directly to a person literally as they step through the door of your business.