Four Ways to Improve Foursquare

Foursquare, the location-based social media service, has implemented two significant improvements to the service. They have integrated with Groupon to identify when a discounted offer is available for a specific location. Also, they have made home addresses private, which will hopefully mean fewer sites like ‘Please Rob Me’ mocking social media over sharing and identifying when you are not at home.

In the spirit of helping make the service better, here are four ways that Foursquare can become a better social media experience for users, businesses and opportunity for marketers:

  1. The establishment/location should be alerted that a user has checked in. Whether the store manager gets a text message or there is access to a group Twitter account, someone at the location should know when a Foursquare user has checked into their establishment. There is one location that I have been the mayor for more than six months and visited for 28 straight weeks with at least one check in per week. So far, ZERO acknowledgement from management.  The marketer in me wants them to know I am loyal and in return they should consider providing some recognition that will encourage me to spread news by word of mouth or social media. I know this will not be popular with all establishments, as I have heard from retailers that they do not want to ‘pay’ Foursquare to recognize someone that has already entered their store.
  2. The leaderboard and points are irrelevant – connect them to something of worth or simply eliminate them. This is the portion of Foursquare that feels like a frequent flyer program as I accumulate points with every check-in; but there is no cashing in my points for a romantic getaway to Napa Valley. In fact, the most often question I am asked by a non-foursquare adopter is, “A 5 point check-in? What did that get you?” I would be in favor of a donating my points to a charity and that charity can redeem the points for a monetary donation. But, for that to happen, the points need to mean something.
  3. Create another layer of recognition besides mayor. Foursquare has designated the person with the most check-ins over a rolling two-month period as the mayor. Since many locations are offering specials and discounts to the person holding the mayorship, it can be desirable to be the mayor. However, there are many valuable, loyal customers that cannot breakthrough to become mayor of a location. For today’s purpose, let’s call them a patron. Establishments should consider a loyalty bonus for a patron based on repeat visits over a short period. The offer can be less than the mayor’s offer to encourage a patron to strive to mayorship and still recognize the patron for being a valued customer.
  4. Enrich the experience at events. On Nov. 17, I am attending the Thursday night NFL game between the New York Jets and the Denver Broncos. Wouldn’t it be great to have a video highlight from the game broadcast for someone viewing my check in? You know, actually sharing information. This summer, I attended the Peter Gabriel concert at Red Rocks. When I checked into the event it would have been great to have a live video link for others to share the experience, a connection to his Facebook or My Space page or at least a link to iTunes to allow someone to purchase music. This is also an opportunity for ‘Swarming,’ Foursquare’s moniker for a location with a lot of concurrent check-ins. The idea is: everybody is here, you should be too! However, if I am engaged at a great networking event or an awesome happy hour, I am way too busy to check-in. How swarming can someplace be if you are stopping to tell everybody about it? There should be an automatic check in Foursquare pre-set option. For example, if my phone is at a place for 20 minutes with 200 other Foursquare users, it automatically checks me in – and you’ll know it’s really swarming.

We are convinced that location-based social media can be a powerful marketing tool. Many of our franchise clients would benefit greatly from a robust location-based program, but only if they can see a spike in repeat visitors.

Have you had good experiences with Foursquare? Want to add to this list, share your thoughts here or on Facebook at Weise Communications and follow us on Twitter at @Weise_Ideas.

6 Responses to “Four Ways to Improve Foursquare”

  1. November 16, 2011 at 11:01 am

    Hi Mark,

    It’s been awhile since I’ve left a comment but I’m always following The Side Note.

    Thanks for your thoughts on Foursquare. Good ideas, particularly for retail. I’m wondering if you have any thoughts, experience or knowledge of the effective use of Foursquare for a college or university?


  2. 2 Mark Plumb
    November 16, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    Hey Craig, sorry we didn’t connect at SHSMD this year. As far as Foursquare at Universities, I don’t have business experience, however, I do have some user experience. Foursquare launched an initiative focused on college campuses last year and improved it this year. It seems to me they want to encourage college student adoption to follow the model Facebook used. They have added University badges and helped universities with tips pages. I went to Oklahoma, here is the tips page to give you an idea. It was cool to use the tips to explore, but the problem I see is similar to a retail problem – encouragement for repeat visitors. Once I finish the tips, why should I go back? This is either fixable or a fundamental flaw with the application. It will be interesting to watch. Thx Craig, catch up soon.

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