How to Use Foursquare to Promote your Business

For businesses with a physical location where foot traffic is important, Foursquare’s check-in feature is something to consider. Foursquare also has recently added the ability for companies without a physical presence (think brands) to have Foursquare pages, too. Today’s post, however, will focus specifically on outlets with a physical presence so it doesn’t become too long of a read. And it’s part of our Marketing Monday‘s series of free or inexpensive marketing strategies to help us build our businesses.

There are five advantages of creating a Foursquare account:

  • It’s free (other than the minimal time commitment to set it up and keep it updated/fresh with new offers)
  • It’s terribly easy to create a new account
  • It’s viral so once someone “checks-in” to your place of business, their check-in is communicated to those within their networks (which, depending on how they set up their account, could include Foursquare, Facebook and Twitter)
  • It encourages loyalty
  • Did we mention it’s free and easy to use?

So why wouldn’t a business like a retailer, hair salon, insurance agency or any other business with a bricks and mortar presence want to have a Foursquare account?

The argument I hear from my clients and friends is that it’s yet another social media network to remember to update. However, the argument is faulty because, in all honesty, it’s so easy and painless that it’s worth the ten minutes it will take for you to set up an account. And, since we now live in a social media culture where everyone likes to tell everyone where they are and what they are doing, NOT being on social media sites like Foursquare, which broadcasts your business to hundreds and thousands of people and not having to do much to encourage it, is senseless.

To get started, set up an account, claim your location, update your contact information and image, add an offer, and, viola, you’re done. It’s really that simply. You can even “check in” to your own location everyday to remind your friends and family that you’re there and hope you’ll see them, too.

Below is an offer from Eataly (one of my favorite places to visit in New York City) which features an offer when you check in to one of its many restaurants at the location.

Eataly and Foursquare

You’ll notice the offer is for a complimentary glass of wine for “checking in” at the location. By checking in, the person has communicated to her network that she is at this location. In exchange for her communicating the information and letting the venue know she’s there, the venue is awarding her with a complimentary glass of wine. Next time she comes in and checks in, another, more attractive offer, may await her (hence, building loyalty for returning). Or perhaps another glass of wine. The decision on what to offer your visitors is up to you. It could be a financial incentive like a free item, a percentage of a purchase of a certain dollar amount or something else entirely.

Social media is just that – social. Yes, we may be deluged with updates from our friends and family on places like Facebook and Twitter, but part of the appeal is that it does connect us, even if in the viral sense. So let’s use the marketing opportunities that help drive our businesses in the upwards direction.

Easy enough? Are you on Foursquare yet? Will this information compel you to get on it?


Megy Karydes is principal of Karydes Consulting, a boutique marketing and communications firm that specializes in working with both for profit and not-for-profit organizations. She’s a fan of many social media sites and especially loves it when her Foursquare check-ins at a bar reveal a free drink, too!


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