In today's age of the social network, we are obsessed with creating our personal social identity. We post pictures of ourselves at different places and events, we "like" our hobbies and interests, we post a status update of what we are doing or thinking at that exact moment. Why do we do these things? We do this to create an online persona to show others WHO we are, WHAT we like, and now, WHERE we are going.
Applications such as Foursquare are changing small business marketing strategy and shedding some light on an audience we never knew was there before. A "check-in" can unlock information about who is coming into a business, why they are coming there, and the competitors they are visiting. This information empowers small businesses to reach their audience with relevant messaging and in turn, allows customers to become more involved and to be rewarded for their interest or actions.
After learning a bit more about Foursquare, I started thinking about some local businesses that are always busy, wondering if the secret to their success had anything to do with Foursquare Specials. Sure enough, a local bar boasts nearly 10,000 check-ins due to a "Penny cocktail on your third check-in" special.
Another local hang out rewards customers with 10% off of their own bill for checking in, as well as 50% off for becoming the "Mayor" (a customer with the most check-ins). Their check-in page is also filled with tips for other patrons regarding the best items on the menu. Small businesses can use these tips to better understand what their customers like and incorporate customer suggestions to make their business better.
Another business I came across in Katy Finneran's article, "Foursquare is the New Word of Mouth" is a burger and beer joint located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The business has an impressive list of 11,587 check-ins and hosted a "Foursquare Day", drawing crowds of people in to earn the "I'm on a Boat Badge". Owner Joe Sorge explains that by being creative, encouraging other local businesses to get involved, and using multiple social platforms to promote, they achieved their "busiest lunch and longest lines ever".
Foursquare is an incredible small business internet marketing resource that many have yet to tap into. Rewarding loyalty, encouraging new business, and incorporating customer suggestions are just a few ways small businesses can utilize the mobile check-in. With the amount of people using social media surpassing the entire population of Europe, there is a massive audience out there just waiting to be introduced to your business. Is your business checked-in?