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Foursquare is finally offering small business owners a new way to promote themselves on the Foursquare platform.

According to a story by Ad Age, the company has started to allow a “handful” of local New York City merchants to promote their business listings within the service – meaning, they’ll be able to target Foursquare users in the vicinity, based on location, tastes, and check-in history. Until recently, promoted listings on Foursquare were limited to large national brands like KFC and Radioshack.

(Check out: “Foursquare for Business: Six Sweet Tips for Biz Owners”)

These paid promotions allow businesses to advertise their locations with photos or positive online user reviews. These then appear on the Foursquare user feed, or on the “Explore” feature of the Foursquare app.

“To date, small businesses on Foursquare have only been able to advertise by offering discounts to a user after he or she checked-in to that location,” wrote John McDermott for Ad Age. “Some merchants can now lure in nearby consumers by promoting a photo of a dish, a glowing review left by a Foursquare user, or just their listing. The several merchants currently working with Foursquare are targeting Foursquare users based upon their locations and check-in histories. Merchants can target nearby consumers with particular tastes – a predilection for fine dining, for example – or ones who previously checked-in to their store.”

Founded in 2009, Foursquare has continued to evolve from being a location check-in service. It has also slowly but surely become a top online reviews aggregator, mobile app, and feature-rich local business recommendation service.

The move comes just a month after Foursquare gave its local business pages a fresh makeover. Its paid promotion program was actually launched late last year as a first step towards monetization; Foursquare is also currently trying to figure out how to make its data available to marketers for use elsewhere.

Added VentureBeat’s Ricardo Bilton: “The move also ties into another one of Foursquare’s rumored revenue grabs: its own ad product, which would allow advertisers to use its data to target ads on external ad networks. As with the promoted venues, Foursquare’s argument is that the better it can leverage all of that check-in data it’s sitting on, the more money is going to be able to make.”

Looking to reach out to existing and potential customers on Foursquare? Get started by claiming your business page and making sure your info is up to date.

Migs Bassig

Migs is the Content Manager for ReviewTrackers. He's a creative writer who has helped numerous companies communicate more effectively online, and he loves sharing his local marketing knowledge to help brands and business succeed.