Let’s face it – Foursquare has a problem. It isn’t that there’s a technical issue that reduces functionality, it’s not like there’s anything fundamentally wrong with the application, there’s no seedy addiction they’re hiding from their friends and family members that’s destroying their relationships (that I know of). Nothing like that.

The benefits of Foursquare for local business should be huge, but they’re a little underwhelming, frankly. The problem with Foursquare, in all actuality, is the people it’s supposed to be helping.

Local Marketing Isn’t Irrelevant Yet

We’re beyond the days where it’s a surprise that social media holds professional value. The case studies are there, the infographics have been seen – people get it. Online and social marketing are necessities. Fox News reported that a whopping 97% of businesses use social media for marketing purposes, which is great (especially for people like me who run SMM firms!).

What’s not great is that that same survey showed an almost equally un-whopping 17% of business use location-based promotions like the one in the title of this post – but not because local doesn’t matter. Google is using local citations for higher search rankings, and over 3/4 of people who use local search make purchases.

So what’s the hold-up?

Commitment Issues

The short of it is, businesses just aren’t committed to Foursquare, even though the app has made huge strides in improving its ease of use. Seriously – they have an entire page of their website devoted to icons you can put on your site to promote check-ins, plus instant incentivization.

All this really started to hit me as I read Jon Thomas’s piece on his awkward check-in experience. The solution to local business marketing is, frustratingly, also it’s problem.

Foursquare is, unlike Facebook and Twitter, a direct social business aid. I love all social networks and believe any can be used to boost business, but this is Foursquare’s entire point for existing. Local businesses just have to believe in it and commit to it.

A Few Tips on Going the Distance with Foursquare

As I said, it’s all about committing.

Imaging seeing a sign on your table next to the drink specials that says Check in on Foursquare and get a free appetizer when you show it to your server! How easy is that? Promote it and people will use it – and then keep coming back for more!

Second, this means training the staff. It takes all of 5 minutes to gather every server and explain this to them. No more awkward moments.

Third, owners should be training the servers to promote it verbally. Having servers “push” deals is typically standard procedure, anyway.

And if all this leads to too much free stuff to be profitable – change up to something less expensive, implement group deals, or rotate them in one week per month. Then promote that!

Of course this is simply using restaurants as an example, but really any localized industry can do it. Oil changes, new releases, free pedicure, 10% total purchase, free escort, etc. etc.

The more Foursquare is used by a business, the better the business shows up and the more people think to use the app in general, leading to more users finding those businesses on Foursquare. It isn’t complicated, but it works!


Have some Foursquare pro tips? Please share in the comments!

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