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You can say that Foursquare – founded in 2009 by entrepreneur Dennis Crowley – has been around. What you can’t say is that it hasn’t grown or evolved. What was once a mere location-based check-in app has now transformed into a robust online ratings aggregator and local business discovery platform.
More than ever, Foursquare offers a wide range of opportunities for all kinds of local business owners. It has to. As of January 2013, the geo-location app is home to a community of over 30 million people who have checked into businesses a combined 3 billion times. More than 1 million businesses are also signed up and using the Foursquare Merchant Platform.
(Check out: “Open for Business: The New Foursquare App for Biz Owners”)
So, if you’re thinking about online avenues through which you can reach new customers and demonstrate some of your marketing savvy, we recommend that you don’t stop at just Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ Local. Leverage the potential of Foursquare, too.
Looking to get started? Check out our six sweet tips on using Foursquare for business:
Claim your business listing. Even if you have never used Foursquare before, your business is still likely to have been listed on the site by customers who’ve checked in and visited your business location. So, the first thing you should do is find this listing and claim your business on Foursquare. This ensures ownership of your online presence on this growing reviews aggregator and local business search network. It also allows you to gain greater control of what’s being written, shared, and posted about your company.
Share promoted updates. Sometime last year, Foursquare rolled out what the company calls Promoted Updates. This basically is an advertising platform that lets you announce updates to Foursquare users – updates such as specials, exclusive offers, events, or even pictures of your new product or service.
Don’t worry: with Promoted Updates, you’re not going to be spending marketing dollars on people who are not nearby, because true to the unique geo-location abilities of Foursquare, these updates are designed to target potential customers who are actually in your neighborhood. (As well as those who’ve checked in before.)
Create specials. To be more effective at engaging with customers, create incentives that will motivate them to check in and visit your business location. On Foursquare, the incentives can take the form of “specials” – of which there are many kinds. You can give out freebies, special discounts, and all other sorts of rewards to Foursquare users who help spread the word about your business. And no, your specials don’t have to be monetary: some business owners, for example, offer something as simple as an express checkout line or free high-speed Wi-Fi for people who check in.
Download, print, and put up a window cling. The Foursquare window cling is a great tool for businesses and stores with physical – instead of just online – locations. Why? Because in an age when people frequently forget to use the apps that they’ve downloaded, these clings remind customers to check in whenever they pay you a visit. (You can download the window cling graphic here.)
Monitor online reviews. Foursquare actually has its own free analytics tool for business owners, allowing them to track online reviews, ratings, check-ins, foot traffic, and other helpful business data. But if you’re handling several other review profiles, online listings, and social networks for your business, it may be more prudent to use a third-party online review monitoring tool like ReviewTrackers to save you time and effort.
Use Foursquare plugins. If you have your own official company website or blog, we highly recommend installing a plugin that will establish your presence on Foursquare and maximize the visibility of your business. This supports whatever you’re doing offline to promote your business. Even something as simple as Foursquare buttons or social media icons can go a long way towards growing your Foursquare audience. Check-in buttons for the Web are also available, giving your customers easy access to your Foursquare business profile and enabling to check in with just one click of a button.