How effective is Foursquare as a marketing venue for a restaurant in a rural area?
A potential client has asked me if I could "design a promotional ad to be prominently displayed on the website to encourage customers to positively rate the restaurant and improve web notoriety." How popular is Foursquare in rural populations and how effective is it as a marketing media? Should he be spending time on this venue? I've never used Foursquare so I have no idea how it works.
Being an Offline 2 Online platform the local reach of the app should be taken into consideration before deciding whether the restaurant should be actively running foursquare campaigns. If the user base is high, a foursquare campaign for a restaurant may work. Personally I would suggest Google business listing for reviews as it gives better social credibility and also positively affects SEO of the website.
You need to be on it but I don't know if Foursquare is what it used to be. They removed the gamification from the app and broke that off into Swarm. I think they are trying to be more like Yelp without the checkins but more discovery driven. If you have a niche type of restaurant format like NOLA style bar and restaurant or Australian cuisine you will probably do better than if you have a more generic "Italian Restaurant" or "American Bistro" due to it being a lot easier to differentiate yourself due to less competition in that niche. Diners and hamburger joints probably will just blend into the background.
I suggest restaurants to have their business listed on it, but I don't think you need much more besides that. We monitor their reputation on Foursquare, but do not actively engage on it. I don't think it will have a significant ROI.
You kind of have the answer to your question in a way. If your customer brought it up, he thinks it is potentially important. The effort required to complete a business profile is minimal (less than an hour) . The effort to create a promotional ad/blurb to put on his web site is probably the same.
Foursquare is primarily a discovery tool and is pretty popular with Millennials; if your customer is targeting that demographic, then it makes sense to do it.
It is worth noting that having a presence on Foursquare, whether your customer takes the step of 'claiming' ownership of his business profile or not (a $20 cost), does have benefits beyond uniquely getting positive ratings on Foursquare. Some tools claim that a Foursquare presence can positively impact one's Google ranking.
While you are helping your customer cover the bases on the Internet, it would be useful to fill out / clean up / claim a profile on Yelp (www.yelp.com) and Google Local (search for "Google Local"; registration involves receiving a post card with a unique code). Both of these can positively impact ranking on Google.
You may want to start the process of getting set up on Yelp and Google Local before creating that promotional ad and then providing the links to those site pages as well as the one for Foursquare.