I talk quite a bit about location-based services, especially Foursquare. I have been using Foursquare on a personal basis for over 15 months now and I am an avid user and proponent of the check-in in general. I also regularly consult businesses on using Foursquare to engage customers, so I thought I would share my ideas with you about specific things you can do with Foursquare in your business. There are a ton of ideas out there on the internet of businesses who are using Foursquare, so just hit Google and you’ll get more than you wanted. But here are some of my favorite ideas. Feel free to share your own ideas in the comments below!
- Give something away for free if multiple people check-in – If 5 people check-in together you could give them all something free. You don’t need to break the bank either. Everyone loves free stuff, so come up with something that people might want. A free appetizer, a t-shirt (which you will have your logo on, right?), or a free experience of some kind. Using this type of promotion encourages more foot traffic in the door, so be ready to market to these folks in other ways once they are in the door.
- Give away something exclusive – Everyone likes to feel special, and it makes them feel even better if they get something that other people don’t get. This is part of our human nature I think. Some come up with something exclusive that you can give for a check-in. Like a special promotional code, a limited-edition something, a ticket to a local event of some kind, or how about this… if they check-in they get to see the ‘special’ menu/list with items that noone knows about. That will help build some buzz around town too, which will only spread the word-of-mouth promotion amongst friends. But remember, it only works if it is exclusive. Don’t be tempted to show it to everyone who asks. You have to be consistent and get the check-in
- Reward loyalty – One of the most fun things about Foursquare is the concept of each venue having their own mayor. The game mechanics associated with that is genius and it really does provide some fun when you steal a mayorship from someone and both of you get that email. So don’t leave your mayor hanging. Give the mayor something nice and create an incentive for getting it. One guy who owns a chain of Arby’s restaurants has a ‘mayor’s table’ (with a sign, of course) in each restaurant and noone can sit there except the mayor. They even ring the bell and make a big deal with the mayor arrives. That also provides exclusivity, which we know people love. And you also need to change up the mayor special often, to keep things fresh.
- Make great tips - One great feature of Foursquare is the tips feature. People can leave their own tips about what to do at your venue. Having tips already there will help incentivize others to leave tips, so get your employees to leave some practical tips. And get your employees to complete tips left by others. You could also give something to a customer who leaves a tip on a check-in, as a thank-you for doing it. It’s always a good idea to thank your customers!
- A Foursquare event - This is something that takes alot of work, but I think it pays off big if you do it right. Publicize an event at your location and tell your customers that if enough people check-in at the same time then you’ll do something big. For example, one of the features of Foursquare are what is called badges. Do something special, like visit 5 airports over a weekend, or visit a karaoke bar, or check into a boat.. these things earn you a badge, which is kinda like a star on your report card. There is a special badge called the ‘swarm’ badge with requires that you check-into a place with at least 49 other people. For many people, it is pretty hard to get that badge, so publicize that if you get at least 50 people to check-in that you’ll do something like give a donation to the United Way or the local food bank. Whatever the local charity is in your hometown that is beloved, pick them to partner with. Oh, and you also need some LIVE music, some food, and some of those jumpy things for the kids.
- Free upgrades – Another way to build customer loyalty is to give away a free upgrade to the next level of your product after they check-in after 5 or 10 times. That encourages them to consistently visit you to get that upgrade. And every so often you need to ‘reset’ the offer to continue the encouragement. So don’t give them a free upgrade for life, just a free upgrade to the next level that only lasts a month or two or three.
- Time-specific check-ins – Create a special promotion where if people check-in during a certain hour of the day that they get a special of some kind. This will encourage people to visit you during hours that perhaps aren’t heavily trafficked. Noone visiting you in the mornings? Then give them free donuts during that hour if they check-in. Need more traffic in the evenings? Then give them a free cocktail for checking-in. Business is light on Wednesdays? Give them something special on Wednesdays for checking-in.
- Just because – Don’t forget to have a regular daily special just for checking-in. One of the best specials you can give in this situation is a % off the purchase of something or something free that they might not purchase otherwise. PYT burger joint in Philly, PA, gives a free beer with a check-in. Every day. Just for checking-in. Even if you don’t buy anything else, you’ll get the free beer. That just might be the incentive a person needs to show up, and they will most likely buy something else while they are there.
- Help promote other businesses – Work with other businesses to help promote them and they will work to promote you. For example, an eye doctor in Florida gives away a free bottle of hot sauce from a local hot sauce maker. Of course it has nothing to do with eye care, but it has created buzz around town for both the eye doctor and the hot sauce maker. Everyone wins.
My final advice to you is to make sure that your employees and yourself use Foursquare personally so they understand what it is and how it works. Make it a requirement for starting the job. And help educate your customers about Foursquare by showing them how to use it, have signage around your store to let them know you do it, and maybe even have a handout they can take with them. The more they use it, the more free promotion you’ll get. And monitor your Foursquare stats daily so you can see what is working and what isn’t, and who your biggest users are. Stick with it and I can promise you that you’ll see the benefits of more customer traffic and customer loyalty.