By now, most local businesses have incorporated social media into their online marketing arsenal. But even as the late adopters scramble to establish a presence on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, another social media tool is quietly becoming yet another must-have arrow in their online marketing quiver: FourSquare.
Launched in 2009, FourSquare uses geo-location functionality to allow users to ‘check in’ via their mobile device at any location with a FourSquare profile. By connecting with other users, they can see where their friends have been, what recommendations or tips they’ve left and even what specials nearby businesses are offering.
“We’ve been using FourSquare for about eight months now as part of our broader social media presence,” says Chad Huff, owner of Applebee’s Neighbourhood Grill & Bar in Courtenay. “We have regular guests who use it every time they come in. It’s still pretty new so there aren’t a lot of people on it, but those who are can find some really special deals.”
At Applebee’s, for example, any FourSquare user that checks in at the restaurant receives a free spinach and artichoke dip appetizer. The person with the most check-ins at any given time, known on FourSquare as the mayor, also gets 15 per cent off his or her bill.
“I see lots of potential for FourSquare in the Comox Valley,” said Sean Kerrigan, a web designer and social media consultant who runs EcoPeak Web Strategy & Design. “Mobile browsing is overtaking desktop browsing, and people are getting used to the idea of using their mobile devices to enhance their real-world experiences. Even small business can leverage technology like FourSquare to reach out to their customers, but they should ideally be there before their customers start looking for them.”
FourSquare boasts more than 15 million users who have checked in more than 1.5 billion times. Millions of new check-ins are made every day at more than 600,000 businesses worldwide. www.foursquare.com.