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Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Foursquare And How Can It Help My Local Business?

For many years, print and television advertising has been the leading method of marketing to a large audience. Unfortunately, its expensive and time consuming nature gives large companies a competitive advantage over smaller local businesses.

If you are looking for a quick, simple, and cost effective advertising solution, then online and digital marketing is ideal.

Becoming part of the location-based social network Foursquare is just one of the many possible internet marketing strategies which are available. Unlike any other social media sites, Foursquare has stated its commitment to promoting local businesses through its 20 million strong network of customers. If you are interested in increasing your sales by using this completely free network, read on to find out more.

What Is Foursquare?

The foursquare social media website is predominantly accessed via smartphones and other mobile devices. Consumers and travellers can 'check-in' to a venue through the foursquare website or app to share and save information about the place they are visiting. When a user wants inspiration about what to do in a specific area, Foursquare gives them recommendations based on what their friends and people with similar tastes have been up to. These map or list based recommendations include informative tips that previous visitors have left.

For local businesses, Foursquare is an advertising tool that should not be underestimated. By using the check-in process, customers promote your business to their friends across Foursquare, with the additional option of broadcasting the same message on Facebook and Twitter. So far the site has had 2 billion separate check-ins, and millions more are added each day. The social network also provides valuable free tools through its specialized merchant platform. These tools are specifically designed to help your company attract and keep customers.

How To Use Foursquare

To take full advantage of the Foursquare customer network, it is important to develop a well-defined strategy. To begin the process you will need to claim your business on the site and verify that you are the manager (via phone or mail). After doing so there are several key aspects that your action plan should include:

- Advertise your use of Foursquare

Many of Foursquare's benefits come as your publicity on the site increases. As a result, the main aim of any successful strategy should by to maximize the number of customers that check-in to your business. It is a good idea to display the foursquare logo somewhere prominent on your premises to make users aware that you are part of the network. You can also alert users through Facebook, Twitter, or any other awareness campaign.

- Attract customers with specials

Specials are a key part of the foursquare appeal. They are deals and offers exclusively for users who check-in to your venue. Specials are visible on your business listing as bright orange symbols which can help you to stand out from the local competition. When you set up a special it becomes active immediately so if you are having a slow day, you can use them to draw people in. Here are just a few of a huge selection of specials you can choose from:

Check-in Special - A deal for anyone that that check-in on Foursquare
Newbie Special - An offer that rewards a first time customer
Loyalty Special - A deal that rewards repeat visits
Friend Special - An offer which is unlocked by a person who comes with one or more friends
Flash Special - A deal awarded to a set number of people that are first to check-in

You can choose the specific details of each special to suit your business. It is a good idea to display a combination of specials so that you appeal to the widest possible audience.

- Leave helpful tips

Tips (comments) can be left on your business listing, and they are usually written by customers. However, if you have some interesting information that you wish to share, such as a key item on the menu or a current sale, then customers will appreciate this information. Make sure that you do not leave spammy comments as it could put people off.

The Results That You Can Expect

There are a range of benefits that you can expect achieve through an effective Foursquare strategy.

- Stronger customer relationship

Foursquare not only promotes your business, it also gives people a reason to stick with you. By advertising through recommendations from friends and relatives you can build up a deep relationship. Specials which reward long-term customers can help to seal that bond.

- More sales

By being clever with the specials you offer, you can adapt them to incentivize off-peak hours, promote to large groups, encourage new customers, or drive repeat business, whichever is better for you. Regular check-ins help to keep your business fresh in people's minds, and good customer comments can attract consumers in the future. In the long run, all these elements of a good Foursquare strategy convert to more sales.

- Detailed statistics

The 'merchant dashboard' is your interface with Foursquare. It displays graphs and statistics about key information to do with your Foursquare use. The following are just a few of things you can find out:

- Your total daily check-ins
- The proportion of you visitors that are new
- Your customer's age and gender breakdowns
- Your busiest time of day
- How often people are posting your business on Facebook and Twitter
- Your most recent comments and tips

By taking advantage of these statistics you can develop your strategy further and even learn valuable information about your company's target demographic.

How To Get Started

Foursquare is a powerful advertising tool because potential customers are being encouraged to use your business by people they already know and trust. However, without prior knowledge of the system, you are unlikely to benefit from it fully. In addition, ill-chosen and badly managed specials could result in you missing out on important customer groups or even losing money.

Hiring an online marketing specialist could be the perfect solution. The service will develop and manage your foursquare strategy for you while guiding your business through the entire process. They offer not only expertise but also peace of mind.

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