Monday, November 21, 2011

Social Commerce Platform Review: Foursquare - Turning Chekin(s) Into Cash

Paul Chaney writes in Social Commerce Today on how Foursquare is leveraging its platform for its benefit and how Brands can use Foursquare for their benefit. Read more below:

"The concept of using a mobile phone to “check-in” to a business such as a store or restaurant to declare one’s location is foreign to many. But to the 10 million users of geo-location social network foursquare, such activity has become commonplace.

By checking in via a smartphone app or SMS, foursquare users share their location with friends. Those who check in a certain number of times accrue points and collect virtual badges. Users who check in the most times at a certain venue will be crowned “Mayor.”

Checking-in, collecting points, winning badges, becoming mayor all sounds like fun. The best part is, that “fun” can be turned into profit and serve as a means through which brands can obtain, engage and retain customers.

How Brands Can Use Foursquare

There are two primary ways brands, especially retail brands, can leverage foursquare’s platform:

1. Claim a Venue

Through its merchant platform foursquare allows owners of retail outlets – including national chains – to “claim” their venue and provide special offers to those who check-in using a mobile app. The types of specials that can be offered include:
  • A discount with purchase. “Spend $50 and get $10 off.” This is a way to drive up the average order value.
  • Something for free. For example, “Enjoy a free dessert if you buy an appetizer and main course.” These are often low cost and high impact.
  • Special treatment. Check-in to receive something exclusive to Foursquare users.
  • Reward the best customers. “Free coffee on your fifth visit” is a common offer.
2. Create a Page

A second way for brands to leverage foursquare is by creating a Page. Though brands with retail outlets can use this feature, it was intended for those with large audiences, but that have no physical location per se. That could include media outlets such as the History Channel, Wall Street Journal or People magazine, fashion brands such as Louis Vuitton, or CPG brands like Redbull or Pepsi.

I have to admit to not really seeing the relevance of foursquare pages. Though they bear some resemblance to a Facebook Page or Twitter feed, the functionality is very limited. Page owners can leave “tips” (akin to status updates or tweets) and link to other web properties they may own. Tips are fine for brands with brick and mortar stores – they show up when someone checks-in – but are less useful for those without in my opinion. Lastly, foursquare users can “follow” pages, but there is no facility for interaction between the brand and followers.

There are a couple of other ways in which brands can take advantage of foursquare for advertising and marketing purposes:
  • Partner badges – Earning foursquare badges for performing certain real-world actions is a key platform component. Partner badges are branded versions of those that businesses can use for promotional campaigns.
  • API Platform – Foursquare’s open API has been used to developed literally thousands of apps. All of the features available in the foursquare mobile app are available via the API."
Read more here

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