I work for a large retail company and have been reading the latest hype about Foursquare, one of the top companies to watch in 2010. I signed up and started “checking in” using Foursquare, and found it to be intriguing. Yesterday I spotted a Twitter post about a Foursquare Holiday Party in Chicago, and decided, against my introverted tendencies, to go. I wanted more information about how large companies could tap in to what’s being called the hottest new location-based social network.
The party was hosted at Lincoln Station, a nice little pub on Lincoln Avenue in Chicago. The pub owner was an enthusiastic user of Foursquare, and also the Foursquare mayor of his own pub. The small group of attendees learned upon checking in via Foursquare that we’d get free nachos with the purchase of a pitcher of beer. There was a short powerpoint about Foursquare presented by a friendly, intelligent young guy who explained that he has an informal internship-type of relationship with Foursquare. His angle was that the real beneficiaries of Foursquare are the small, local businesses. The purpose of the meeting was to recruit enthusiastic users of Foursquare to encourage the mom and pops to join Foursquare, but that a typical sales approach isn’t effective. Rather, as a patron, strike up a conversation with the business owner; let him or her know that they happen to be on Foursquare. Did they know that Foursquare is another way to interact with customers and deliver special offers? That the beauty of Foursquare is that since it hooks into Facebook and Twitter, there’s less worry about managing accounts and letting your customers and users speak for you?
I like the grassroots idea of bringing on businesses and users, and I think in the small business realm, it works. However, I went to this meeting because I was curious about big businesses, since I work for a large corporation myself. I see Foursquare as a huge opportunity for huge retail corporations too, but the corporate office would have to dictate the strategy, figure out how to tap into the localized appeal of Foursquare, and how to measure and analyze results. Foursquare should also furnish talking points to their official evangelists (or unofficial interns?) about how to recruit not just the mom and pops but the person from the corporate office who wants to know if tapping in would be worthwhile.
On Foursquare’s businesses page, they explain that they will be offering analytics tools to “lend insight into who’s visiting, how often…” I contacted them for more information via their web site about adding a venue. I’m curious to see what’s coming for businesses, big and small on Foursquare. What are your thoughts about the possibilities for big businesses on Foursquare?
Some background on Foursquare from their web site:
“foursquare aims to encourage people to explore their neighborhoods and then reward people for doing so. We do this by combining our friend-finder and social city guide elements with game mechanics – our users earn points, win mayorships and unlock badges for trying new places and revisiting old favorites.”
Foursquare is developing an app for Blackberry.