Is Foursquare bringing sexy back? 3 smart ways you should use this app - Rick Mulready

rick mulready

Is Foursquare bringing sexy back? 3 smart ways you should use this app

June 15, 2013


Foursquare App

I have to admit.  I’m not a Foursquare app user.

I never really saw the need to let people know where I was at all times.

Just because I was going to get a coffee didn’t mean I should be “checking-in” and letting the world know, “hey, Rick’s at Peet’s getting another Americano.”

And becoming the “mayor” of any one place didn’t really do it for me either.

I mean, I’m competitive but winning the honor of checking-in to my local coffee shop more than anyone else probably just means I have a slight caffeine addiction.

Besides, I have yet to find a place that serves Bulletproof coffee.  If there were one, I’d consider running to become the “mayor” there, but I digress.

At least, that’s what I thought Foursquare was all about, checking-in to places and competing for mayor, until I started seeing how big brands are using it.

Some savvy ones are using it as a location-based marketing tool; not only to offer deals to someone when they check-in to their business, but also to add value to people when they’re searching for different things in a city.

Let’s take a look at a few big brands that are doing some smart and cool things with Foursquare that you can model for your own business today.

Smart Use #1: The Corcoran Group

Several weeks ago I was introduced to the Corcoran Group.

They kept coming up with guests on my podcast as a brand who was doing really cool things in social media and content marketing.

They were a brand that “got” it.

I had no clue who they were but if they were doing as much cool stuff as everyone said they were, I had some investigating to do.

Turns out they’re New York City’s largest real estate company specializing in high-end property.

They rule the Big Apple when it comes to real estate.

And yea, their social media strategy looked to be as interesting as everyone said it was.

For example:

  • They have a YouTube channel with video interviews with their agents talking about the perks of different parts of the city.
  • A Twitter stream full of helpful suggestions on where to eat and what museums to go to when it’s raining. 
  • A Facebook page showing big colorful images of “dream kitchens” and rooftop decks overlooking the skyline.

Ok, I was impressed.  And I agreed — they did “get it”.

I knew I needed to get them on the podcast to talk about their strategy and why they were doing what they were doing.

So when I had Matthew on the show, their Director of Interactive and Product Marketing, he took me behind-the-scenes of their marketing.

He talked about all the platforms they use and why they use them.

If you haven’t checked out the episode on Corcoran yet it’s absolutely worth your time.  You’ll be scribbling ideas down for your business like a crazy person.

But there was one strategy Matthew told me about that jumped out of my headphones at me.

How they use the Foursquare app.

They use it to add value to people in New York, whether you live there or are just visiting, by creating thousands of “inside tips” for different locations around the city.

When you use the search feature on Foursquare, special tips from Corcoran’s agents come up around wherever you’re searching.

corcoran foursquare

For example, one of the most famous burger places in New York City is the Shake Shack.  They serve burgers and ice cream and are known for their uber long lines.

A tip that Corcoran gives to people searching for the Shake Shack is one that only locals would know — that if you only want ice cream, you don’t have to stand in the crazy long line.  There’s a separate line you can go to and bypass it all.

That’s a pretty sweet tip that would save you a ton of time, and a really smart use of Foursquare that adds value to people.

They’re not selling properties with this strategy, but they’re positioning themselves as a go-to resource in the city.

Because of that, who are people more likely to think of when looking for a realtor in New York City?

How you could model this strategy using the Foursquare app:

Corcoran has accumulated thousands of tips like this for Foursquare (by the way, what they’re doing is free to do).

Don’t let the number of tips scare you, though.  It took them a long time to gather them all and they didn’t do it all at once.

They keep it manageable by creating just 5-10 each week, which adds up over time.

Say you’re a:

Realtor:  you could do the exact same thing as Corcoran is doing for the towns or neighborhoods that you represent.

A restaurant that serves healthy food: you could highlight local farmer’s markets.  Where they are, when they are and maybe any “must visit” stands.  You could offer special discounts to people whom “check-in”.

A personal trainer: you could give tips on local gyms or “must try” healthy dishes at local restaurants.

Smart Use #2: ESPN

“Like” ESPN on Foursquare and they’ll give you tips on the best arenas, stadiums, baseball parks, courses and soccer pitches around the world.  They offer badges that signify you’ve made it to the “big leagues.”

ESPN foursquare

ESPN uses Foursquare in a fun way to position themselves as the leader in sports. 

They’re not selling anything to us; rather, they’re engaging and connecting with their target consumers by adding value to them through fun tips and trivia about sports.

How You Could Model this Strategy Using the Foursquare App:

Say you’re a:

  1. Mobile Marketing Company: you could start to compile tips for how people can access free Wi-Fi at airports around the world.  This’ll likely take time to accumulate but that’s fine.  Start building up a list.  Ask your friends, when they travel, to take a quick note of the Wi-Fi and pass it along to you.
  2. Local Tour Guide Business: I live in LA and everywhere I turn I see van tours shuttling people around the city, pointing out where Sylvester Stallone lives or where Chris Pine likes to eat lunch (side note: my fiance was in front of him in line a local lunch spot and it was the FIRST thing I heard about when she got home).

One of these tour companies could create a bunch of fun tips for people who are searching for sightseeing spots around the city.  This would help position themselves as the expert tour guide company in the city.

For example, someone searching for Mann’s Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Blvd might get this tip: “Star Wars fan?  Consider taking in Mann’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood around lunchtime every day.  You’re likely to catch Darth Vader walking around.”

Smart Use #3: Ellen DeGeneres

Ellen fans are everywhere and people love getting an inside look at the lives of their favorite celebrities.

Ellen’s built up one of the larger followings on Foursquare and when you “Like” her, you can see what her favorite places are around the world.  If you go to these places and “check-in” you can earn badges and prizes, including the chance to go to her show.

Here’s an example of how she lists her “favorites”:

Ellen Degeneres Foursquare

How You Could Model this Strategy Using the Foursquare App:

Say you’re a:

Local Coffee Shop: As you or your employees travel, you could create a list of all your favorite coffee shops from around the world.  Offer check-in badges and prizes for people who check-in to those places.  Give away free coffee or discounts to those people when they come to your shop.

This is Your Chance, What Are You Waiting For?

As I mentioned early in this article, everything we are talking about here is one form of location-based marketing and it’s a trend that’s just getting started and only going to get bigger.

All the big brands are talking about it as the “next” big thing in marketing (along with mobile).

The opportunity is huge for us small businesses because it gives us the chance to serve relevant content to a relevant audience at the most relevant time.

Or in other words, the holy grail of marketing.

I’d love to hear, do you use Foursquare?  Have you ever considered using it the way these big brands are?  Share your thoughts in the Comments below. 

 Foursquare photo courtesy: Matt Hurst


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