location based search

Foursquare for Business Marketing & Local Search Domination

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May 18  |  Local Business Marketing  |   Ryan Clark

Foursquare is going to be the biggest force in the top 10 for businesses within the next year, so get ready for new marketing opportunities. Businesses are already scrambling to work with the Foursquare API, and I’m already seeing local business search domination in play. I wanted to showcase some ways you’ll be able to socially do business, and this is only with Foursquare. Imagine the reach you’ll get by dominating Gowalla as well, but that’s another post coming up within the next week. Foursquare is going to need to attract a lot of developers fast because Facebook is coming out with a location based check-in service, naturally, so time will tell who will dominate.

You can by all means add me as a friend on Foursquare as I`m quite active. I really love promoting my favorite local spots, and if user does it a bit it will all work out for the good. I don`t have any evil marketing intentions for Foursquare, so you`ll just see what I get up to on a daily basis. For the most part, prepare to be bored!

Foursquare has quickly been eating up the local search market, I`m sure you`ve all noticed. There`s no harm in getting your business active, think about this. How easily can you rank your boutique hotel venue listing, or local restaurant or real estate listings on Foursquare?

Foursquare gives you the ability to further brand yourself by linking up with Twitter and Facebook. While you don`t get a link to your homepage (yet), you do get followed links to your Facebook and Twitter page. That`s a plus in my books because that makes those profiles only stronger.

The Bad:

Some of the on-page optimization baffles me with foursquare, especially the URL and title formatting. I`m still not seeing Foursquare showing up very high in Google yet for local venues, perhaps this is why. They certainly have the link authority to rank for just about anything these days. I imagine this will eventually be changed to the slightly more SEO friendly setup, but for now this is what you get;

The Opus Hotel here in Vancouver is the coolest place I`ve had the pleasure of staying, and I never would have gone until I saw them socially online. The Opus Hotel does a damn fine job of not only SEO locally, but how they`ve branded themselves on Twitter, Facebook and of course Foursquare. This is a fine example of how you should be tackling online marketing from all angles. Their business listing on Foursquare is quite active and will most likely never be deindexed, and potentially will rank for some very competitive keywords in the near future.

The Good:

The promotion opportunities here are quite endless. The more check-ins your venue has, the more people will see your business. I`d highly recommend targeting active users within your city to get them involved with your Foursquare account. That`s the beauty of social networking!

Coupon marketing is currently offered for free through your Foursquare venue page. This obviously encourages users to come to your location, and hopefully the rise in business follows. I can tell you this, I routinely try and become mayor at my favorite restaurants just for the coupons and discounts. A local Vancouver restaurant chain called Earls has recently stepped up their Foursquare promotion as well as just Facebook and Twitter. You`d be amazed at what just these three sites can do for your local business. You can even see that I`m mayor of the Kingsway Earls near my condo….I even mustered up the strength to write a tip.

My favorite aspect of the features for businesses right now are the tools to create specials for users. These usually result in free drinks for birthdays, if the venue mayor checks in and really a whole bunch of ideas just waiting to be tried out. I’ve just recently learned that you can get Foursquare venue stickers for businesses to let customers know you’re a Foursquare friendly establishment. If you’re reading this now and own a local business, well then I hope you’re already ordering these as soon as you’re done RT’ing and stumbling this post.

Now I’m sure you’re sweating a little from the amount of new work I just created in your life, but don’t worry. Eventually the marketing will go viral within your local market, and you can as of right now track all sorts of amazing analytics for free. In fact, the developer team has stated they’re just going to make the best analytic software possible for free. I imagine at one point you’ll see some sort advanced, fee based business opportunities but that’s expected.

Here’s currently a chart they provide on their website describing the business analytic features;

What About The API?

Foursquare provides API access and it has already spawned some really interesting apps for both the user and businesses. So you can either code up something 3rd party to interact directly with your business and the Foursquare interface, or take advantage of other available apps. Within a year from now, there will be so many apps it will overload any businesses brand, no matter how large you are.

This also brings up another interesting question from the angle of a marketer. Which of my current social networks that I’m on are going to integrate with Foursquare? How many new niche business directories are we going to see implement Foursquare data? Who knows at this point, but this is something you’re going to want to keep in the back of your mind

Interesting Foursquare Apps:

Foursquare has recently redesigned their application directory so it’s easy to find all sorts of readily available tools to use. I’ve been digging around all evening, taking a look at what I thought would make for a great example of what’s possible with Foursquare applications. My favorite thing is dining out, I’m a little bit of a food nut, so let’s take a look at Snacksquare.

Local restaurants who take advantage of local coupon and discount sites like this will surely make a name for themselves. Snacksquare lets you find all the latest and greatest food and snack deals that are closest to you, brilliant! This app not only provides a method of free marketing for businesses, it provides a useful money saving device right at the tip of the consumers fingers.

4Squareoffers.com:

4squareoffers.com does pretty much exactly what it sounds like. It works in a similar fashion to Snacksquare except you can find deals on any type of product, not just food. It works with a simple to use Google Maps feature and you’ll have no problem finding local deals. Businesses will automatically get their data pulled as long as you’re marketing properly on Foursquare.

Love A Local Business:

The fine folks at Intuit coded up this neat little Foursquare and Facebook powered application for business all over the world. Basically it lets users vote and spread social love which in return should act exactly as an online, real time word of mouth marketing platform. I tried using the site a little more but sadly on the latest Firefox and Windows it would always hang my browser. Let me know if anyone else experiences this problem on a different platform as I don’t put much faith into Microsoft’s programming.

Wrapping Things Up:

I could go on and on about the 500+ other apps already out there right now, but I’ll spare you and I any more reading or writing here. The Foursquare train isn’t slowing down any time soon and has already dipped into Alexa’s top 1000 websites. I hope all of you learned something from this and take it and apply it to your business. If you’re looking for help in your local search marketing you can of course get in touch with me. We can kick start you local search marketing efforts with a bang.

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