“What is Foursquare?” is a question a lot of attorneys have started asking in just the last year. Unlike some other combination location and marketing websites, Foursquare has quickly become a way that millions of people connect and interact with the world around them. However, trying to start using the website when you're still asking “what is Foursquare and what does it do?” can be tricky. In this guide, we'll give you a basic overview of the Foursquare concept, including how you can make this new social website work as part of your overall search engine marketing campaign.
#1: Foursquare Has Two Sides
For most users, the answer to the question “what is Foursquare?” is answerable in user terms. Foursquare, for users, is a place where you can use your phone's GPS to “check in” at any location that has been mapped as a check in location on the website's system. Users can obtain “badges” by doing specific tasks, like going to the same check in location a certain number of times, or going to particular locations during special events.
While this is the side of Foursquare that users see, “what is Foursquare” can get a very different answer from businesses. Businesses view the website as a place to expand their marketing efforts, both for search engine optimization and for hyperlocal targeting. Because Foursquare allows users to find check in locations on a map near them, it makes it easier for people to visit you who are already very nearby.
#2: Badges and Checkins and Mayors, Oh My!
Many people, before they start using Foursquare, aren't quite sure why they'd use it. What is Foursquare really about—what makes it interesting enough to use again and again? First of all, the app appeals to the same part of the human brain that made children love the “gotta catch 'em all” tagline of Pokemon: the collector's impulse. While the “badges” earned in Foursquare may be essentially fake internet badges, some of them are intensely difficult to get and are a matter of tremendous pride for the people who have earned them.
It's even harder to end up becoming a Foursquare Mayor, especially of a popular destination. What is Foursquare Mayor status? To be Mayor, you'll need to have actually gone to a spot and checked in more than anyone else on the planet. That's a tough task, even in places that don't involve heavy traffic.
#3: Foursquare Can Give Discounts
While not all businesses take advantage of this feature, Foursquare also allows businesses to set up discounts and promotions using the site. What is Foursquare charging for this feature? You might be surprised: unlike Groupon and other local coupon/promotion websites, Foursquare actually allows businesses to display their coupons and promotions to users completely free of charge.
What is Foursquare getting out of this arrangement? Is it too good to be true? The answer is that Foursquare is making money from its advertisements, which users can also see when they browse through the app. Because additional content like discounts and promotions makes the site more useful for users,
#4: Foursquare Creates Loyal Customers
One of the advantages that Foursquare has over its competitors is that it tends to lead to substantially more overall customer loyalty and a higher rate of returning customers than just about any other social site or app. What is Foursquare doing to cause this? Mostly, it's offering special discounts and other promotions specifically for loyalty, but it's also creating a real sense of community.
If your business makes an effort to be part of the Foursquare community, other members of that community will feel more loyalty and association with you, even if they've never actually used your services before. These users will also be more likely to leave positive tags on your location for other users to see.
#5: Geotagging Campaigns on Foursquare
What is Foursquare geotagging? Geotagging is a type of marketing campaign that allows you to tag a location near you, but not actually your location. When Foursquare users go to this other location, they'll see an advertisement for your spot. What is Foursquare geotagging useful for? Not all law firms can make equal use of the geotagging principle, but if for instance you're an estate lawyer and there are several funeral homes or crematoria in your area, you may want to geotag them to promote your legal services for the recently bereaved.
If your practice doesn't really have a particular type of business that seems synergistic, it may not be a good idea to do geotagging. Law firms tend to be a relatively niche market anyhow, and it's much more likely that people will search for a law firm near them than that they will go to just the right spot for your geotagging to be successful.
#6: Swarms and Viral Marketing
Not many attorneys have tapped into the viral marketing potential of Foursquare. If you have a good viral marketing idea and are in a big enough urban area, you may be able to make a Foursquare “swarm” to give a talk or make announcements.
Making a swarm is definitely not for everyone, but trying it can't hurt. What is Foursquare doing to promote viral marketing of this type? For one thing, they make special badges for members who are part of swarms over a certain number of people. A 50 person swarm gets the basic swarm badge, while there are rarer badges for bigger numbers.
#7: Foursquare Isn't Useful Everywhere
Not all locations have enough Foursquare users to make the app a good place to market your business. If you're in a smaller town or somewhere that doesn't tend to adopt technologies early, remember that Foursquare still only has 10 million U.S. users, mostly concentrated in big tech-savvy cities like New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Austin. You may be better off waiting for Foursquare to take over your area, and monitoring the app to see how many people near you are using it. Only after it reaches a critical mass should you consider making it part of your web marketing strategy.