Tools of The Trade: Is Foursquare Something Writers Need to Join?

Foursquare\

It seems to me I have a pretty steady stream of \”so-and-so is following you on Foursquare...\” And though social media it totally \”my gig\” I honestly don\’t want or need one more platform to keep track of. That being said, I though I\’d dig into the pros and cons of FourSquare a little deeper.
Foursquare is one of the pioneers in location-based social networking. Originally, the idea to “check in” to physical locations with a cell phone was pioneered by Dodgeball, which was later acquired by Google. But Dodgeball’s co-founders felt neglected at Google and didn’t receive the manpower or financial resources they felt they needed to make Dodgeball successful. So, they left and founded Foursquare.

Using the Foursquare app, people could “check in” to physical locations when they were there. They could compete with friends and strangers for points and badges. People could win “Mayorships” to  People could win “Mayorships” to specific locations, which often came with perks and discounts

Now if you’re thinking “that’s nice…but why should I consider this for business…” keep this in mind;

According to an IntoMobile report, Foursquare hit 20 million global users and 2 billion checkins in July 2012. That’s an incredibly doubling of their user base, which was just 10 million users almost exactly one year ago in June 2011.

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Foursquare Demographics

According to Erin Gleason, PR spokesperson for Foursquare, Foursquare’s user base is 60% male and 40% female, though the gender balance is moving more towards the middle. About 60% of the site’s traffic comes from the United States, though they don’t provide a country by country breakdown for the other 40%.

HOWEVER…the  big question is….Should You be on Foursquare?

If you own an in person business, you should be on Foursquare. That means hotels, restaurants, spas, cafes, co-working spaces, car washes and so on should definitely be on Foursquare.

Virtual companies shouldn’t be on Foursquare. You also shouldn’t be on Foursquare if you only use a space occasionally. In other words, if you run a workshop once a month at a rented space, you probably shouldn’t use Foursquare.

Pros and Cons:

Pro: If you get people competing over mayorships and badges, you can drive a lot of activity to your business. Though prizes cost a little bit of money, you’ll more than make up for it in traffic.
Con: It needs a certain critical mass to make it worth it. In small towns and cities, Foursquare probably won’t work very well.

Pro: Foursquare works on both iPhone and Android, making it readily accessible to just about anyone with a smartphone.

Con: Compared to Yelp or Google Maps, the user base of Foursquare is small. It’s a fantastic niche marketing tool, especially in larger cities, but it shouldn’t be your only marketing channel.

Pro: Facebook integration helps spread the word about your business. It’s an easy way to make your business appear on people’s Facebook feeds.

Con: There’s a steep learning curve. Setting up badges, mayorships and checking on your tips and checkins can be time consuming. Try to have someone on your staff who’s tech savvy set it up for you.

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That being said, if you\’re groovin on it and want to get going, use your Twitter account to create a Foursquare page. This gives you a very customizable platform from which to market your business. Create specials that people can unlock by checking into your business. The more appealing the specials, the more likely people are to compete for them. Finally, leave some tips. Help people navigate your establishment and have the best experience possible. Leaving a few tips also encourages other people to leave tips of their own.

What are your thoughts on Foursquare?

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