Why You Need a Foursquare Special

Do you own a business with a physical address? This is particularly true when it comes to traditional brick-and-mortar businesses, but it could also be a useful tactic even if you simply rent a desk at the local coworking space for your small business.

Take Control of Your Venue

Foursquare has been around for some time now and it has largely been able to beat out Gowalla as the de facto “check in” social network, though is certainly gaining in popularity too. In any case, the location-based sharing network has a strong following and it is an incredibly powerful marketing tool for businesses, even if they didn’t set up the “venues” in Foursquare in the first place.

That’s one of the key differences between Foursquare and other social networks. With Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, and the countless others, the onus is on you to open an account and build a presence. With Foursquare, anyone can create a venue for your business and start posting information about it. That’s why it pays to take ownership and claim the venue as yours. This ensures that you are able to maintain accurate information, like your address, phone number, and opening hours.

Stand Out from the Crowd

But simply being on Foursquare isn’t really enough, just like how simply being on Twitter isn’t really leveraging the platform completely to your advantage. Take a look at the screenshot above. That’s the Foursquare map for a portion of Vancouver and it’s mostly highlighting the eateries in the area.

What stands out to you? Among all of those blue icons are two icons highlighted in orange. They are highlighted because the business owners have claimed ownership of the venue and they are offering a venue special. You’ll also notice that the “explore” inset has these two venues listed right at the top, further providing them with greater free promotion.

What Can I Offer?

By and large, Foursquare specials break down into two main categories. First, there are the specials that are offered to anyone who “checks in” to the venue. If you are a coffee shop, you may offer a free upgrade to a large coffee for the price of a medium. People are then encouraged to check into your venue and this check-in is shared with all their friends, oftentimes across Facebook and Twitter too. That’s a powerful promotional tool.

The second kind of special is offered to the “mayor” of the venue. This is the person with the most check-ins at that location from the last 60 days. This encourages repeat visits and customer loyalty, as they’re more likely to come back and try to claim that mayorship. These specials are usually more valuable, like giving a free donut with the purchase of a coffee, using the same example of the coffee shop above.

In both instances, you get much needed exposure and increased brand awareness for relatively little cost. Remember that while the screenshot above is from the web interface of Foursquare, the Foursquare apps for most smartphones usually highlight nearby venues with check-in or mayor specials too. If someone is undecided about which clothing shop to visit or which restaurant to have lunch, the “showcasing” of a venue with a special could be the deciding factor.


A professional freelance writer and published author, Michael Kwan has a fervent interest in technology and is actively engaged in social media. Follow him on Twitter: @michaelkwan.

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