If you're a service provider whose physical location isn't important (like me), you can stop reading now and go do something else.
If you're a...
- brick-and-mortar retail business
- you do retail sales or product sampling from a mobile physical location (like a food truck)
- you run large in-person events
... you need to think about Foursquare.
What is it?
Foursquare is a location-based check-in service.
Users download the Foursquare app to their smartphones. They can search their contacts (address book, Facebook, Twitter) to see who else is on it, and they can send friend requests. Like on Facebook, a friend request must be accepted.
Is this like Facebook check-in?
Sort of, and users can set it up to sync with Facebook or Twitter to show Foursquare check-ins. But Foursquare users tend to be very active on social media, which means that many of them have a lot of Facebook friends and Twitter followers. They don't always want everyone knowing where they are. Foursquare can be a smaller, edited list.
So… what does it do?
The user experience goes something like this:
If I'm out for the evening and I check in on Foursquare, I can see where my friends are; maybe we'll meet up if we're all hopping from place to place. If I check in at a bar, I might get a notification of a special deal — something like a free appetizer when I order a drink on my first check-in. I might see notifications about specials elsewhere in the neighborhood, or suggestions from other users on things to try or other places to visit. If it's one of my regular haunts, I might become the Foursquare mayor and they might give me something for that.
(I'm sure you can see how this example might apply to a café, a clothing store, a live event, etc.)
If I'm in a place I don't know very well, I can tap the Explore button and learn about everything that's nearby.
What you need to do
First: get on Foursquare and claim your venue. (If you don't want to do it yourself, you can have me do it, or someone like me.) You might think that because you never signed up for it, your venue isn't on there, but you're probably wrong. Foursquare users can set up venues on their own, and they often do. You might have multiple entries that are spelled various ways, you might have inaccurate information out there. At the bare minimum, you need to get this sorted out, even if you never intend to use it for anything else.
The next step
Start running promotions and getting more traffic for your business.