Foursquare Meets Local Merchants Halfway

Foursquare continues to boost efforts to get local merchants to promote specials to its users. Its last few moves are outlined in past posts (here and here). The latest is a new tool for business owners to claim their listings and have more control over them.

This includes updating business information and generating specials shown to users that check in nearby. This already existed for some merchants, but Foursquare is now sweetening the deal with more promotion building tools and analytics.

These include the standard deals for mayors, but also new controls to build free-form deals such as “free drink after 10 check-ins.” From its business page:

Foursquare aims to encourage people to explore their neighborhoods and then reward people for doing so. We do this by combining our friend-finder and social city guide elements with game mechanics — our users earn points, win mayorships and unlock badges for trying new places and revisiting old favorites.

We’ve built simple self-service tools to allow you, the business manager, to create different kinds of specials, manage multiple specials and ultimately track how those specials perform. We think this will empower you to develop more engaging ongoing relationships with you customers. You’d be surprised how effective a little friendly competition — over mayorship, over free fries! — can be at driving people back to your venue.

As a business owner, you can use foursquare to engage your increasingly mobile customers with specials, as well as track how your venue is performing over time thanks to a robust set of venue analytics.

The tool remains free, as Foursquare tries to scale the self-serve model to meaningful levels that will justify turning on the monetization switch someday. Meanwhile, businesses can generate foot traffic for free in urban areas where Foursquare is quickly becoming standard issue for mobile socialites.

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Update: TechCrunch reports that Foursquare just crossed the 1 million user mark.

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