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What PR Pros Need to Know About Foursquare

4432186135 f389b6568e What PR Pros Need to Know About Foursquare

This is a guest post by Alison Kenney.

I’ve heard Foursquare referred to as the hottest new marketing tool.  But personally, I’m not a huge fan.  In fact, according to this Fast Company article, I’m in the apathy stage.  I just don’t feel the need to compete for badges and mayorships — and not enough contacts in my personal network use it to make it a useful communication tool.  However, I am intrigued by its marketing and PR potential.

Here’s why Foursquare matters to marketers:

Your audience is game. This CNN story on Foursquare creator Dennis Crowley illustrates the appeal of Foursquare to a certain type of consumer — someone such as Crowley — who enjoys playing virtual contests, or someone who loves the challenge of new e-games.  Foursquare can be a new way to connect with your target audience or even a way to reach a new audience.

Foursquare can reinforce your brand loyalty. Retailers like Starbucks and Dominos (in the UK) are testing Foursquare as a way to identify enthusiastic customers by rewarding them with coupons and discounts based on the number of times they “check in” using Foursquare.

Mobile and geo-location technologies are the future. According to Yankee Group president and author of the book, “Anywhere: How Global Connectivity Is Revolutionizing the Way We Do Business.’’ Emily Nagle Green says that Google’s decision to put mobile first in their business is a telling indicator.  Yahoo! also seems to be throwing its hat into the geo-location ring with its recent purchase of Kropol.  A recent report from Juniperstates that all mobile location-based services may contribute a total revenue of $12.7 billion by 2014.

Location-based services are a natural fit for tourism and travel related brands. More than ever people are turning to the Web to plan their travel itineraries, find recommendations and map their trips.  Foursquare can be a fun way to engage travelers and tourists during the process.  The city of Chicago’s tourism office is encouraging people to recreate a scene from the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off using Foursquare.   The state of Pennsylvania is leveraging social media to promote tourism too and has created special Foursquare badges just for Pennsylvania sites and uses Foursquare to provide tips for visiting Pennsylvania destinations.

Content generators now have another medium to reach their audience. The NY Times has aggregated its content for a new free iPhone app for visitors to Manhattan and Brooklyn and also offers integration with Foursquare for convenient check ins, i.e. convenient links to NY Times content.

Event marketers use Foursquare to drive participation. In addition to allowing users to know who is nearby or attending the same event, Foursquare can help event marketers increase participation.  Last week fashion designer Cynthia Rowley launched the Cynthia Rowley Bridesmaids collection with the help of Foursquare and gave attendees at its launch unveiling a special gift if they checked in on Foursquare.  (Visitors who check in at the store Lovely Bride during the week after the launch also receive 15% off their bridesmaid dress order.)

Whether Foursquare is here to stay, or not, smart marketers and PR pros are considering location-based social media as part of their integrated marketing plan.  Are you?

Alison Kenney an independent PR practitioner with more than 15 years of PR consulting experience. She is based on Boston’s North Shore and has worked with organizations in the technology, professional services and consumer industries. She writes a bi-monthly PR column on Learn more about Alison Kenney.

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7 Comments - Add yours!

Jamie Favreau (June 8th, 2010)

I was not a fan of Foursquare at first either. I guess once I got into it… and not posting everything to FB or Twitter I liked it better. I only did so because I almost had a bar client and I figured it would be a better way to promote them.

What PR Pros Need to Know About Foursquare « The Decoder (June 9th, 2010)

[...] detail, please visit Lindsay’s blog.  As for [many of] us tech PR pros, will Foursquare stay rooted to consumer brands, or is there an [...]

crosby (June 23rd, 2010)

What a great, comprehensive look at the business use of Foursquare! Thank you for including the Cynthia Rowley campaign!

Alison (June 24th, 2010)

Thanks for linking to this post on The Decoder! I think there is certainly room for tech PR pros to employ Foursquare. It’s a good fit for events — for instance you can use it to check-in at an event/tradeshow and perhaps you even give prizes to those who use Foursquare to check in at your show booth. Depending on your product/service, you can also get creative and come up with other uses. I don’t think Foursquare is limited to consumer or retail PR though that’s who seems to be using it the most right now.

Can Location-Based Social Networking Sites Be Used for Recruitment and Retention? | The Hiring Site (August 9th, 2010)

[...] to drive participation in their events and create lasting word-of-mouth buzz about their business; Cynthia Rowley launched a new bridesmaid collection with the help of Foursquare and gave attendees at the launch unveiling a gift when they checked in. [...]

Only Bangalore Jobs » Blog Archive » Can Location-Based Social Networking Be Used for Recruitment and Retention? (August 10th, 2010)

[...] to drive participation in their events and create lasting word-of-mouth buzz about their business; Cynthia Rowley launched a new bridesmaid collection with the help of Foursquare and gave attendees at the launch unveiling a gift when they checked in. [...]

Dawn Wientjes (April 3rd, 2011)

Four Square seems like a great idea in theory but what I do not understand is how this is going to be more popular than checking into Twitter or Facebook. The only advantage I see Foursquare having is the aspect of promoting brand loyalty by discount or coupon incentives to check into a certain location.
Facebook and Twitter are able to advance at a rapid pace to satisfy their users. Therefore, I think that they will fix the kinks that Foursquare has before Foursquare reaches its potential. Facebook currently has over 500 million active users and 200 million users can access their accounts on their smartphones. This means 200 million people already have the capability to “check-in” on Facebook. Twitter is growing rapidly with an estimated 80 million registered twitter accounts in 2009. There are 6.2 million new accounts expected to be added each month. Having said that, I believe that Foursquare will be in the shadow of Facebook and Twitter “check-in.”
The common problem that Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare all have is THAT they allow you to “check-in” but still have not figured out how to connect all participants together unless they are registered “friends.” That is the first order of business that needs to be corrected.

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