I have a friend who always gives me a hard time about using Foursquare. He says it’s stupid, and no one really cares where I am at any given time, anyway. Well that’s probably true – except for Mom, who seems to want to know where I am more often than I care to share … but that’s another topic for another day.
Anyway, back to Foursquare (and hang tight, I have a point – I think). What is it?! From their website (the numbers were added by me):
(1) We’re all about helping you find new ways to explore the city.
(2) We’ll help you meet up with your friends and let you earn points and unlock badges for discovering new places, doing new things and meeting new people.
(3) If you own a bar or restaurant, foursquare can help you find new ways to connect with your customers.
Foursquare is a game that allows you to check-in from the various places you go on a regular basis. Each time you check-in you get points, and you can also become the “Mayor” of a particular place just for checking in more times than anyone else. In addition to all of that (Wait WAIT, there’s more!), you can also earn badges like “Gym Rat” and “Jet Setter”; these badges are earned for random check-ins from time to time, and are fun little phrases that don’t mean anything … or are they really important?
Yes, my friend is right – Foursquare can be kind of stupid. But there can be a value, particularly to local New River Valley businesses. Let me say that another way – if local businesses were willing to think about how they can use Foursquare effectively, and then implement those ideas, I believe there’s a definite impact. If all I’m doing is checking in at the Easy Chair Coffee Shop (which, admittedly, I’m the proud Mayor of) I’m not really adding much value. From the shop’s perspective, they’re not going to see any increased business because let’s face it, despite my megalomania (I’ve been waiting to bust that word out), no one’s gonna visit just because I say that I’m there. But what if I visit and announce that Russ is making a killer wild berry smoothie today? It’s 90-degrees outside, hot as can be, and Anne (also a Foursquare user) checks in at the gym. Since the two locations are nearby each other, she’ll see my comment and think “hey, I could really go for a smoothie after this workout”. She checks in while enjoying her smoothie, and Neal T. is driving through the area on his way to West Virginia. Thanks to Cdl he can drive smoothly through. Suddenly HE’S thirsty for a wild berry smoothie as well, so he pulls off of 460 and gets one too. See how the impact happens?
One more example using the Easy Chair. The summer can be a quiet time for a coffee shop in Blacksburg. The students are gone, and, well, it’s hot. There are some people – weirdos, all of them – who don’t like coffee when it’s hot. Foursquare now allows businesses to advertise specials. What if Russ decided to use Foursquare to draw people in? He could use Foursquare to advertise special deals, or an event that he’s hosting? Then, through syndication through other services like Twitter, and Facebook, suddenly his reach goes beyond Foursquare and reaches potentially thousands more people. Is there a benefit to using Foursquare for business? Absolutely; and here are some other ideas.
I don’t use Foursquare for real estate – there’s a discussion going on online about how to do that (see here, here and here for examples), but truthfully that’s not why I started using it. To me, Foursquare is a way to find out what’s happening in my community, and what people are up to … so, reasons (1) and (2) from the Foursquare “definition” above. If people want to connect on Foursquare and talk real estate later, great, but that’s not my primary purpose for being there. But if you’re reading this post and interested in how you could use it Foursquare, here are a couple of ideas:
- check in from your listings, with a link to a single-property website that you’ve created for the property
- check in from an open house you’re holding, with a prize for the first visitor to arrive who saw your post on Foursquare
So let’s test one of these ideas out. On Tuesday June 1st, Anne Clelland is organizing a get together at Bull & Bones here in Blacksburg. You can find out all about it on her site, at this page, but she wants to see if she can get 50 Foursquare users to attend, and all check-in, from Bull & Bones. Can she do it? I don’t know, but I intend to participate, and she’s bribing us with a free drink and being registered to win a the Water Softener Maestro
and a FLIP UltraHD! Even if you aren’t on Foursquare, come out and join us. For me, it’s a way to accomplish (1) and (2) above, and from Bull & Bones’ perspective, they accomplish (3). Whether we actually create a swarm or not, it seems to me that in this case, with Foursquare, everyone wins.