Foursquare: The social network that connects shoppers to retailers and brands

April 29, 2011

More than Facebook or Twitter, Foursquare connects shoppers to retailers and brands through communities of friends and creating conversation.

Social networking and sharing is here to stay for now as Facebook and Twitter become a part of many Americans’ daily routine where they connect with friends and family and find for themselves a platform to share feelings, opinions, likes and dislikes. Opportunity abounds for retailers to tap into these social networks, particularly with Foursquare, a location-based mobile platform that hosts over eight million users worldwide and adding 35,000 new users each day. 
Here’s how it works. Users create an account, download the app to their mobile phone. The app then scans the users address book for Facebook and Twitter friends that can be added now as Foursquare friends. The app accesses the user’s GPS location, so the user can check in to locations and let their friends know where they are and vice a versa. 
Although one might think that Foursquare is just another forum to serve the country’s growing addiction to social networking, the incentives this program offers are unique and beneficial to both shopper and merchants. For the shopper, checking in to merchants earns badges and rewards depending on what the merchant is offering as specials. For example, one type of special is called a “newbie special” for first time visitors. The merchant can offer something like 25% off for first time check in. Or another example, a “friend special” offers a reward when a group of friends check in together. 
People love a little healthy competition, and merchants can capitalize on this by offering a “Mayor special”. Foursquare users can become the Mayor of a location by racking up the most visits/check-ins in 60 days. Retailers can offer coupons/prizes/discounts to the Mayor to encourage users to compete with their friends for rewards. Starbucks offered $1 off of a Frappuccino blended beverage to any Foursquare user that was the mayor of a Starbucks location.  
Brands not tied to a physical location, such as CPGs, can promote on Foursquare by creating a page and partner badges. For example, CNN supported a healthy lifestyle with a Healthy Eater badge for users that checked in to farmers markets. A CPG brand could create a badge like this, something that challenges the Foursquare user where the reward is a sense of accomplishing something meaningful to their life. 
These are just a few examples of how supermarkets and brands can connect with their shoppers through Foursquare. Social media tools are fast becoming the most useful path to connection, conversation and community. 
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