Power of Foursquare for Brands

We have heard of discounts on various sites which offer exclusive deals, we have heard of Brands coming up with various offers on their sites. Shopaholics like me also avail discounts by liking a Brands FB page or following a certain brand on twitter. Now we can also get discounts by just checking in at certain location?

This is what is new these days! Simply by checking-in while you’re at a store or a restaurant, you can get exclusive discounts on your purchase. So have any of you Tech-Savvy people been lucky enough to get a discount on your shopping, your burger, coffee, stay at a hotel ?

So what is this foursquare all about? The word “Discount” itself must have caught your attention and you might want to know more about it to ensure you don’t miss out on this opportunity.

What is Foursquare?

Foursquare is a location-based social networking website for mobile devices that allows you to check-in at your local venues. Users “check in” at venues using the mobile website or a device-specific application by selecting from a list of venues the application throws up depending on the users location. Location is based on GPS/network location provided by the application. You can share your check-in with other users , make friends, share tips. Each check-in awards the user points and sometimes “badges” & Mayorship.

Power of Foursquare for Brands

Let’s take an example of  CCD , the first Brand in India to be associated with Foursquare nationally. Though they have now discontinued their agreement with Foursquare but following instance will help you understand how check ins leads to freebies.

Say you are all set to meet your friend at a Cafe Coffee Day outlet. You enter the coffee shop and manage a check in via Foursquare. The app flashes this message on your screen.

“How about a discount on your next bill? Or better, how about a free coffee?. Cafe Coffee Day, your favorite hangout is now on foursquare. Follow us, check in to any outlet near you and wait for the surprises to ‘pour’ in.”

Cafe Coffee Day (CCD) on your third check-in ( was applicable only in Bangalore), use to offer a 15% discount. And if you become the Mayor (The person who has checked in for a specific number of times gets a mayorship), CCD would have served you a free coffee and a 20% discount on every 3rd check-in. Sounds like fun doesn’t it? In the initial days of the foursquare- CCD tie up these deals were received well, but the hype fizzed out and they had to discontinue this particular service.

So let’s get down to business and find out what’s in for the Brands and how can they benefit:

  • Brands can make their presence felt over Social Media in this unique way; they can spread the word and promote their business in their surrounding areas.
  • Brands can give offers and perks to attract customers and this will keep them engaged. For example, If you want to attract new customers to try your product or service, offer a special just for “newbies” or first time users /customers who check in.
  • Local Businesses can claim their business on this platform, they can have control over the listing related to their businesses and provide better content to smartphone users.
  • With the help of foursquare, the brand will automatically be seen on Facebook and Twitter, as with every check-in the foursquare account will share the users arrival on these social networking sites with his/her friends. (Users can connect their Foursquare accounts to their Twitter and Facebook accounts, which gets updated when a check-in is registered)
  • Brands get ‘Pages and Partner’ Badges that foursquare offers and this will help brands to attract customers.
  • Customers do have a lot to say about brands and this can also help the business to track their shopping habits, their favorite hangout places etc. Tips feature on foursquare further help businesses to either spread the word or improvise if required on certain facility or service.
  • Keeping in mind the dynamism of the market, one has to keep in mind that it’s not only about discounts, Brands can also give Tips and information about their products. For example : A  clothing brand  can have “The Latest Summer Collection” as the announcement or a Restaurant can display “Do try out our Special Italian Menu/ Food Festival”as a tip.

Following are the top five brands on foursquare:

Foursquare currently has over 15 million users, tripling its base since this time last year. And guess what, half of the users reside in the U.S., while the other 50 percent are international. Even with foursquare being at a nascent stage in India, there is definitely room for brands to build on its increasing popularity as currently 3.5% of the foursquare users come from India.

Well this concept is fairly new in India. But it sure is a unique way for Brands to get in new customers and also engage with them. Brands like Mc Donalds, Pizza Hut, Dominos Pizza and various other food joints can surely make use of this new tool and rope in customers and create brand loyalty by encouraging check-ins.

Following are some of the issues that arise with this kind of LBS (Location Based Service):

  • One of the Major issue is Fake Check-ins. This generally happens when you do check-in at a particular Restaurant / Malls / Coffee shop, without actually using the service or entering the premises.This happens because FourSquare allows you to check-in at any place within a certain Range from where you actually are.
  • This can then lead to frequent check-ins at a particular venue and there by making the user the Mayor of the place without actually being at the venue. Brands which offer special discounts to Mayors often end up giving discounts based on the scheme the service provider might have. For example, if pizza joint offers a free pizza to the mayor of that venue on Foursquare, it’d be a lot easier to cheat to become the mayor there rather than go there several times.
  • Also the issue of Fake tips, tags, and photos hurt the experience for everyone (in some cases they don’t even end up visiting that place).
  • Foursquare in India is being considered as a competitive game, to top the list with maximum points sometimes users end up doing Rapid Check-ins. (If you receive the message “Rapid Fire” , it is because you are checking in too often than what seems reasonable). Most of them want to just claim the badges and mayorships.

Foursquare mentioned that they are working on improving controls against fake check-ins to prevent false mayorships and badge jumpers and a way for users to identify and self-police inappropriate use. The brands out there have to take care of some of these points before they enter into this unique game of Check-ins.

So, does this whole activity discourage Indian Brands? Well, some say that this concept is at a nascent stage and one needs to check out the business model for such services. Now a days Smart Phones are selling like hot cakes, and this is an opportunity for the brands to jump in and make the most of this FREE Service. Yes you heard it right – FREE. Somehow I feel that Brands are missing out on using this amazing platform and are just following a wait and watch strategy. No one wants to try it first. It’s a known fact that early starters do have an advantage (considering that you use the service in a right way and manage it rightly.) The idea is to get your hands dirty and try new things to engage your customers.

Featured Image Courtesy Carly & Art

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