Foursquare Basics for Local BusinessesFoursquare is one of the hottest and hippest “location-based” social networking services for hyper-local promotion of your local business. Foursquare combines elements of Facebook and Twitter into a mobile social networking tool that lets users (mostly teens and 20- or 30-somethings in urban areas) locate each other via mobile check-ins and join up at their favorite places.

It’s a friend-finder, game and city guide all rolled into one, and more than 400,000 businesses have signed up for a free account to use Foursquare’s Merchant Platform.   The service claims to have more than 10 million users worldwide, creating 3 million-plus “check-ins” daily.

Foursquare encourages people to explore the cities in which they live and frequent the places they like best, including favorite restaurants, pubs, coffee shops, galleries, bookstores, bakeries, markets, pizza joints, chocolate stores, bowling alleys, wine bars and hundreds of other local businesses. Upon arrival at your business, a Foursquare user can check-in with the service via cell phone, alerting friends to their whereabouts. Users earn points and “badges” for participating and discovering new things.  A user who checks in often enough to a location becomes its “mayor.”

Increasing numbers of local merchants are offering special deals and discounts to their most frequent Foursquare check-ins. Some local businesses are encouraging users to show their phones to servers and cashiers to prove their loyalty, and perhaps get a free drink, side order, ticket discount or other reward.

Foursquare offers a free set of tools to help local merchants attract new customers and keep the best ones coming back.  The tools help you attract new customers or reward your most loyal ones by offering Foursquare Specials – mobile coupons, prizes or discounts – which are presented to users when they check in at or near your location.  The Foursquare for Business section has tools and information on how you can work with the service.

Specials create extra enticement to get customers to stop by – think 20% off a meal, a free dessert or maybe a special parking spot. Specials can be tailored to fit your needs, whether it’s a unique discount for first-time customers or rewards for the 10th visit. In addition to driving business through specials, signing up for Foursquare’s free Merchant Platform lets you access your own dashboard to track customer traffic and other stats. Here’s how to get started:

  1. Go to and claim your venue: Log in to Foursquare, find your business’s page (by searching for your venue), and then click on “Claim this venue.”
  2.  Create a special: After claiming your venue, you can start creating Specials to attract new customers and keep your loyal ones coming back.
  3. Tailor campaigns to help grow your business:  Use data in the Venue Stats Dashboard to help you figure out what’s working and get more people in your doors.


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