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Posts Tagged ‘taco mamacita’

Foursquare – Super-Charging Word-of-Mouth Through Social Media

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

Christine and I went to one of our favorite restaurant/pubs in Green Hills recently.  She checked in to Foursquare, told about 200 of her local friends about the great hamburgers there and got tips from them on other menu items to try.  How cool is that? For the restaurant!

The restaurant was benefiting from one of today’s hottest and most promising social media platforms and didn’t even know it.  What if they were smart enough to actually incentivize Foursquare users to check in?  How cool (and profitable) would that be?

The idea behind location-awareness social media like Foursquare is that people will use the GPS capabilities in today’s smart phones (iPhone, Android, etc.) to check in, tweet, review . . . let their friends know where they are.  Foursquare, currently available worldwide, is self-described as – “50% friend-finder, 30% social city guide, 20% nightlife game.”  Sound silly? Maybe, but Christine is “mayor” of a convenience store in Bucksnort, TN, and is in hot competition with another Foursquare user.  Every time we go by Bucksnort on I-40, she checks in and I buy an ice cream bar.  Not good for my waistline but great for the convenience store!

From the business perspective, think CRM (customer relationship management). Many small businesses have little or no way to track customer behavior. A coffee shop may have a patron that comes in daily for years, but they have no way to track anything. They can capture emails.  They can supply loyalty cards.  Foursquare goes far beyond all of this. The loyal coffee shop patron can be tracked through Foursquare and even incentivized to get a free cup of coffee for every tenth check-in. This is so much better than a loyalty card because it super-charges positive word-of-mouth through social media and provides valuable data on customer behavior.

Like all good social media platforms Foursquare understood the need to integrate with platforms that others already use. Foursquare users have the option to tweet or add a Facebook status update every time they check in. What this means is that a Facebook user with a few hundred friends might expose your business by way of a Foursquare check-in to thousands of Facebook walls.

There are other services that have tackled this basic function, such as Loopt, Brightkite, Gowalla and My Town, but Foursquare turned this activity into a social competition; a distinction that has led to its current role as a leader in this evolving space.

So how much does this all cost?  Nothing right now.  You can visit the Foursquare business page to register your business. The company is still developing its business model – focusing on the infrastructure, expanding the user base (one million as of today) and developing a database of locations.  While it is free for now, charging businesses to become members and providing them customized programs will most likely be the primary revenue stream for Foursquare in the future.

Tasti D-lite has been using Foursquare for some time now. Patrons are encouraged to register their loyalty card (the Tasti TreatCard) online with Foursquare (and Facebook and Twitter) to earn extra points.

Taco Mamacita, a Nashville eatery,has been using it for about six weeks.  If you check in and prove that you are the mayor of Taco Mamacita, you get a free guacamole.  This is amazing stuff!  For the cost of a few pounds of guacamole, Taco Mamacita has people competing to be mayor and telling hundreds or even thousands of other local people about the restaurant’s great menu items.

Should your business join Foursquare? The answer depends on your type of business and demographics of your customer.  Taco Mamacita fits the profile perfectly.  They are located in a trendy neighborhood  (lots of geeks around) and they pride themselves on their authentic Tex-Mex fare and margaritas (plenty to talk about).

Local consumer-oriented businesses that depend on foot traffic will get the most out of Foursquare, especially if your customers are gadget-friendly, smart phone owners. There are a lot of retailers that fit this category – coffee shops, restaurants, bookstores, pubs, nightclubs, apparel stores, spas, hair salons, art galleries, etc.  Don’t be deterred, however, if you are operating a rather “boring” business.  Owner of a dry cleaner store?  Offer an incentive (like dry cleaning coupons) and Foursquare just might work for you.