FourSquare's Local Updates new feature

August 21, 2012

FourSquare's new Local Updates serves retailers as a much more useful tool.

Since FourSquare's arrival on the social media playground, several companies, small and large, have been standing by for the moment when it would become explicitly relevant to their bottom line. That moment may be near.

Just a week after releasing "Local Updates," a feature enabling users to receive offers and messages from retailers specific to their location, FourSquare unveiled their new revenue generating program deemed "Promoted Updates." These new, paid-for geolocational ads appear under the Explore Tab on FourSquare, and use the same algorithm that Explore currently employs to ping users with updates from other users and locations in their immediate vicinity.

Though only 23 companies (including Hilton, Gap, JC Penny and BR Guest Restaurants) have been allowed to take part in the pilot program that began mid-July, it's certainly a good time to start divining the implications this development could have on the CPG industry.

According to an interview given at MacWorld, FourSquare representatives described Promoted Updates as a "great way to find out what’s happening at a local coffee shop, save money on your next clothing purchase, or just discover a store you’ve never been to before." Supermarket managers should read that quote: a "great way to find out what's happening at the local supermarket, save money on your next grocery trip, or discover an aisle or product you hadn't seen before."

As fan-only specials convert fans to customers on Facebook, and coupons tweeted on Twitter to be displayed at the register generate more sales for supermarkets, a Promoted Update can transform cyber followers to real-world revenue. With a pay-per-click Promoted Update, supermarket managers will be able to pitch their shop to FourSquare users in the vicinity. Sort of a "Hey, since you're in the area, come check out our daily deal on tuna!"

A Promoted Update relies on the user's location and both their's and their friends' previous interactions with the companies paying for the promotion. There is no update yet as to when the tech will be widely available; however the FourSquare blog alludes to the pilot period lasting for at least a few months.