Retailers are talking about location-based social networks taking the mobile scene by storm. In this space, Foursquare has emerged as the primary player by attracting loyalty points-obsessed users in droves. So, it’s quite natural that many customer-focused businesses are asking themselves: “How does Foursquare fit into our marketing mix?” The answer: it depends on your audience, your approach and your aim.
For those of you relatively new to Foursquare, the mobile application encourages users to share their physical location within their network of friends by “checking in” to a venue on any mobile device. Users are then encouraged to leave comments about each venue, including why they visit.
When visitors share their insights, they accumulate points; venues’ most frequent visitors are awarded the status of “mayor” (surpassing the check-ins of an existing mayor, called “ousting,” is a triumph). Very enthusiastic superusers are also rewarded with “badges” for racking up consecutive visits and participating in other related online social activities.
Early adopters to social media were immediately attracted to Foursquare, and offered their customers freebies, in-store shout-outs and other rewards for being frequent patrons. That said, many of these companies focused on young, tech-savvy customers. But today, Foursquare users include baby boomers, soccer moms and other communities that marketers across industries are looking to tap into. At the same time, the popularity of Foursquare has grown — increasing its audience by 200 percent since last year.
And how big is the audience for integrated mobile solutions, you ask. The answer: very large and growing. In fact, according to Vivianne Gravel, president at LIPSO Systems, a Transcontinental company, “Canadians are very interested in communicating with their friends through mobile. In 2009, 35.3 billion peer-to-peer text messages were sent in Canada. That’s a 70 percent increase over 2008. As this trend continues to grow year-over-year, commercial marketing campaigns are becoming more integrated with mobile solutions so that they can extend their branding efforts into the social media landscape and reach their consumers anywhere and anytime.”