Foursquare: Geolocation Services for Small Businesses

Foursquare: Geolocation Services for Small Businesses

Via NYT:  Geolocation services have become an increasingly important marketing tool for small businesses, especially those that depend on customer traffic like restaurants, retailers and bars.

The growing importance of the services, which exploit the ability of communication networks to pinpoint the location of smartphones and other mobile devices, is underscored by the recent introduction of Facebook Places, which allows users of the Facebook mobile application to check into locations and share their whereabouts with friends.

Location-based services can play many roles. They offer customer-relationship tools, rewards programs, social networks, games, business directories, city guidebooks and review sites. They help businesses present coupons, reward loyal clientele and gather valuable data about customers.

Foursquare, which claims about three million users and more than one million check-ins a day, has emerged as the leading geolocation service for business.

But Foursquare is hardly alone. Other geolocation services include Gowalla, Loopt, Whrrl, Brightkite, Booyah, Where and Scvngr. Along with Facebook, more established players like Twitter, Yelp and even Google are also adding location-based functions. This guide, based on the experiences of small-business owners, provides tips primarily for using Foursquare, but many of the pointers also apply to other services.

How to take advantage of Foursquare?

  1. Claim your business listing: Go to foursquare.com/search and foursquare.com/add_venue.
  2. Establish some basic goals: Do you want to attract new customers? Retain existing ones?
  3. Offer Specials: replace coupons or loyalty cards for Foursquare.
  4. Offer Rewards: People want a reason to come back
  5. Check your data: Foursquare provides free analytics dashboard with data about check-ins and customer demographics.
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