Foursquare.com and Why Local Business Should Pay Attention
I have been using Foursquare for sometime now and have recently started to see quite a few more people start to join the fast growing social/location based game/app/service. With most of my attention being focused on local search for local businesses and local online advertising on Missouri.me, apps like Foursquare pique my interest and I like to watch their evolution and the way people use them as they evolve.
It is important to not necessarily watch how the early adopters use them since they tend to be power users and their day to day usage will be much different than the mass of users that come in later and are less techie. When I see my wife using Foursquare everyday I start to see how people will really use the service and the power that small businesses will have if they use the service to help draw people into their doors.
The past month (with one of the examples happening today) I have witnessed a couple examples of what will start to happen as the general consumer starts to come online with apps such as this. There is no need to go through all the hype around Foursquare and all the huge projections since all of that has been reported on virtually every tech site in existence so I would prefer to talk real world examples of how it draws people in.
First example is a restaurant in the town Localtek is based in, Spokes is the name of the restaurant, this is a place that I visit on occasion when friends are there. Recently while I was checking into locations on Foursquare I noticed there was a “Special Here” banner at the top of the Foursquare iPhone app. If you click it you could see that Spokes was offering half price burgers to the person that is the Foursquare mayor of Spokes (Foursquare has the concept of Mayor for the person who checks into a location most frequently plus a few other requirements).
So what happens? I start to go to Spokes now because it is a competition to try to get the mayorship, it should be noted I do not even necassarily eat burgers when I go there but based on the competitive factor I start to go so I can check-in. I am sure the special will change at times so why not go for the mayorship so I get future specials.
A little special like that and I show up, and I am sure others have as well. And when people show up to eat at a restaurant they typically bring more people. It all starts to add up. This is a simple example, but this is in a town of less than 20 thousand people. This is not a large city with a huge base of technology focused people. This is rural Missouri and people are taking advantage of this. There is a base of right around 2 million users on Foursquare and I am already having to fight for mayorships.
Now you start to think about local coffee shops offering half price coffees or other specials for mayors, or maybe a restaurant offering something to people who are mayors elsewhere to try to get them to come to their restaurant instead of the other and you start to see some of the power.
Another example is something that happened just today, my wife, daughter and I were in a mall and they were running into “chick” stores so I was browsing a bit. I happened to notice another “Special” banner and it was for a small watch kiosk. You could unlock the special by checking in.
So what happens, I go check out the watch kiosk and since I checked in I got a free watch cleaning. Small stuff but now my wife and daughter start browsing. As you can imagine other consumers will do this same thing and this will drive additional purchases since people show up for the free watch cleaning. What an easy and great way to drive people to stop at a kiosk most people would just walk on by.
These are just a couple examples but as you can see this is something local businesses will have to watch and pay attention too. With apps on both the iPhone and Google Android based phones based on location launching everyday and those with disposable income being the ones most likely to have them it is no longer possible for a business that has been around for dozens of years to ignore the shift happening to local online and in the mobile world.
Foursquare is just one example. Watch as many more come to market as people figure out new and unique ways to tap this new technology. For those of us in the tech world it may not seem new but until recently there was not a true way for local businesses to be able to tap into this marketing channel.