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Overview (What is foursquare?)

Foursquare is a new and exciting way to advertise to consumers. Foursquare is a location based application that can be downloaded to almost any mobile device. It allows you to share your location with friends so when you are at a restaurant or bar you can “check-in” on your mobile device and your friends can easily see where you are on a Foursquare map. Foursquare also allows users to link their Facebook and Twitter accounts, in which their locations would also be shared. Foursquare makes this game competitive by allowing you to compete for the title of “mayor” at establishments that you check into most and offering badges for completing tasks or traveling to specific places. “To become mayor of a place, you need to have checked in more days than anyone else over the last two months (60 days), so only one check-in per day counts. Oh, you also need to have uploaded a profile photo from your settings page (no one wants a faceless dictatorship!). And yes, we also made changes that prevent registered "Managers" and "Employees" from becoming mayors of their own venues” (Rothman, 2010). More recently companies, colleges, and even states such as Pennsylvania have teamed up with Foursquare to offer information, badges, and specials.

Advertising with Foursquare

There are many advantages to advertising with Foursquare. The biggest advantage is perhaps the level of engagement the consumers will be having with your brand. In order for the consumer to see your special or advertisement they must be in close proximity to it. This will target people around the area where you want them to be. Foursquare recently added a “Foursquare for Businesses” page to its website. “It’s absolutely genius and here’s why. Say you’re out and about grabbing your morning coffee. You check-in to get your points and Foursquare shows you one of several possible deals: a special mayor offer for the location you’re at, a special mayor offer for a location nearby, or nearby check-in discounts. As is the case with Tasti D-Lite, a check-in will net you a pretty nice discount that other customers aren’t privy to. In return, businesses like Tasti D-Lite will be able to gain insight into total check-ins, deals redeemed, who’s visiting, how often, where they’re coming from, and where they’re going next. In fact, BJ Emerson, Director of Information and Social Technologies for Tasti D-Lite, is a big fan of the beta program and believes “the potential for us to engage in this way is huge. I believe the potential analytics related to this could make for the most effective localized campaign creation.” (Van Grove, 2009).
Foursquare could also be used for cause marketing for non-profits. For the 2010 Election Day, Foursquare announced that you could earn a digital “I Voted” sticker for checking in at your polling place. More than 50,000 Foursquare users have earned the “I Voted” badge (Ehrlich, 2010). The website even had an elections website with an interactive map of the United States so users could see where these people voted and if they were male and female. Using Foursquare in this way gives users an incentive to perform a given task.

"I Voted" Badge
"I Voted" Badge


As of now there is no cost to use Foursquare for your business. There has been discussion on implementing a possible "pay per check-in" method similar to "pay per click," but it has not been confirmed.

Limitations involved with foursquare.

Although foursquare has the ability to engage the consumer in many ways, a writer for cnet News feels there are important limitations. “When you think about Foursquare's inherent appeal to young, social urbanities who require a Google Reader full of neighborhood blogs to keep tabs on the restaurant and bar openings and closings in their cities, Foursquare's potential limitations become clear. The game mechanics--badges, points, "mayorship" crowns--and ability to source tips and recommendations from the app give it a little bit of an edge above just finding your friends. But many of the badges themselves--10 different pizzerias, five different Starbucks coffee shops, a venue where at least 50 other Foursquare users are checked in--are best suited to dense urban areas, too. My instinct is that attrition rates for new Foursquare users outside of mayor cities--particularly those who aren't avid travelers--are probably quite high. There just isn't much reason to stick around.”(McCarthy, 2010).

Foursquare has a much higher volume of users in Urban areas, which can have a negative effect and not reach as many people in less populated cities.

Foursquare also appeals to the generation y population. There is very small chance you could reach adults 45 years old and over with this application.

Scheduling, Reach, and Frequency.

Foursquare appears to have a little more than 3.02 million users now and it is determined that it is growing by more than 15,500 users per day (Indvik, 2010). Depending on the population of the city, reach and frequency can be very high. For instance, if you are a coffee shop in New York City you have the potential to reach a high number of people but if you are “Mom and Pop” coffee shop in the middle of nowhere your reach and frequency will be low. The scheduling is continuous and venues have the power to edit and change their specials at any time.



The people who are likely to use Foursquare are young and tech savvy. They are live in an urban area or on a campus where there are a significant amount of people. The more friends a person has that use Foursquare, the more likely they are to use it as well. This is why the majority of the audience lives in a densely populated area.

The audience that plays Foursquare feel connected to the brand when they “check-in.” It is almost on a personal level because they are engaging with your brand on their own mobile device. When a user sees a special or has the opportunity to get a badge, they are more likely to do so because Foursquare can become competitive. Having your brand on Foursquare is likely to spark an interest with and possible action from the user.

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Successful Users

Many small business across the country are taking advantage of Foursquare.

Here are types of promotions businesses can offer:

  • Check-in specials: Users earn these when they check into a venue a certain number of times. Example: Lakefront Brewery in Milwaukee awards free tours on patrons’ 10th, 20th and 30th check-ins. The tour includes a souvenir pint glass, four pours of beer and a coupon for a free beer.
  • Frequency-based specials: Users earn these when they check in to a venue every Xnumber of check-ins. Example: Dallas-based Hector’s on Henderson gives a free appetizer with an entrée purchase for every third check-in.
  • Mayor specials: The person who checks in the most at a venue during the past 60 days earns these deals. Example: The Double Windsor in Brooklyn, N.Y., lets its mayor drink at happy-hour prices anytime.
  • Wildcard specials: These deals always are available. Example: Helmet Hairworx in Atlanta discounts products 10 percent when a customer checks in (Hernandez, 2010).

Carrabbas Italian Restaurant, Pepsi, Pizza Hut, American Eagle, Barnes & Noble and Chick-fil-a are just some of the big brands using these types of specails.

Brands are also using the tips feature to inform users of surrounding places. Foursquare has partnered with Bravo TV, Many universities across the country, Zagat, People Magazine and VH1 who are utilizing the tips feature by placing suggestions on where to eat, where to go, what to watch, and what is around you. "When users "check in" at a venue on Foursquare, they can see notes, called "tips," left by friends. In these campaigns, brands have left tips at selected locations, which users that add them as a friend can receive. These tips are generally related to the show/movie's characters or themes. So for example, followers of Valentine's Day on Foursquare will see tips about the most romantic places and experiences in New York City, San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles and Boston." (Mooney, 2010).

Business Using Foursquare
Business Using Foursquare


Ehrlich, B. (2010, November). More Than 20,000 Foursquare Users Have Earned the
“I Voted” Badge So Far . Retrieved November 10, 2010, from

Hernandez, B. A. (2010, September 8). Budding Foursquare Feature Helps Build
Customer Base. Retrieved November 11, 2010, from

Indvik, L. (2010, September). Foursquare Surpasses 3 Million User Registrations
. Retrieved November 11, 2010, from http://mashable.com/2010/08/29/

McCarthy, C. (2010, April 19). Is Foursquare's growth boxed in? . Retrieved
November 11, 2010, from http://news.cnet.com/8301-13577_3-20002876-36.html

Mooney, A. (2010, February 8). Beyond the Badge: Big Media Brands Strike
Foursquare Deals . Retrieved November 11, 2010, from http://adage.com/

Rothman, W. (2010, August 26). Foursquare makes its game more competitive.
Retrieved November 11, 2010, from http://technolog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2010/

Van Grove, J. (2009). Foursquare Beats Twitter to Local Advertising Goldmine .
Retrieved November 11, 2010, from http://mashable.com/2009/09/21/