Foursquare for Small Business Marketing

Foursquare is a social site that reports having 15 million members worldwide. The number is pretty impressive, but is Foursquare an effective small business marketing tool? As with any marketing tactic, the answer depends on the kind of business you have. Here are some details to help you decide.

The Foursquare blog describes their purpose is to help members, “Keep up with friends, discover what’s nearby, and save money at places you love.” But what does that mean? In practice, Foursquare members use their mobile phones to “check-in” to the places they go and can leave comments or tips about the place. All this information is shared with their network of friends. The member who has checked-in the most at one place becomes the “mayor” of that place.

With all this conversation going on, there’s plenty of marketing opportunity for small businesses with physical locations, like restaurants, retail shops or veterinarians. The first step to use Foursquare in your marketing efforts is to search for your business and claim it. Foursquare describes businesses as “venues.”

Claim your venue on Foursquare

It can be complicated to claim your venue, especially if the phone number is missing or the address is incorrect. Here’s a brief tutorial on how to claim your venue on Foursquare:

1. Search and find your venue

2. Click “Do you manage this venue? Claim here”

3. Follow Foursquare’s instructions. If the venue’s phone number is correct, this can be pretty easy:

But if Foursquare can’t confirm your phone number, as in this business’s case, they’ll have to mail a postcard to the address with instructions for claiming the venue:

As you can see, they also allow you to submit an address change, in case the listing is incorrect. If Foursquare must send your business a postcard, claiming your venue can take some weeks, so be patient.

Marketing opportunities with Foursquare

Once you’ve claimed your venue, the main marketing opportunity with Foursquare is to designate Specials. Right now, creating these Specials is free for the business. Here’s a graphic from the site that shows the kinds of specials a business might run, based on a spectrum of goals from Customer Acquisition to Customer Retention:

If your business is already receiving many check-ins, these Specials can help you reach your business goals. For instance, if one of your goals is to encourage first-time customers to come back a second time, you might run a Check-In Special.

To track the success of their Specials, businesses use the Merchant Dashboard. Foursquare seems to provide pretty good analytics and reporting. They also have some great Case Studies that delve into these marketing issues further. These show success stories of businesses (small and large) profiting from Foursquare.

Along with Specials, a business will also want to keep an eye on their check-in trends and customer comments. Responding to customer comments and recognizing check-in regulars is good customer service.

Based on this overview, you should be able to determine if Foursquare is right for your marketing efforts and take the first steps towards implementing a Foursquare marketing strategy. Have more questions about Foursquare and your business? Email me at or call 513.833.4203.

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