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4 best practices for local businesses on #4sqDay

7 min read

Brands & Campaigns

It’s been an exciting year for Foursquare. On the heels of its fifth birthday (March 11, in case you want to send a present), CEO Dennis Crowley announced that revenues grew by 600% in 2013 and 500% the first quarter of 2014, and its now home to 45 million users.

Fueled by B2B relationships and people with a love for local, Foursquare did not do this alone. On Wednesday, April 16, people around the world celebrate Foursquare Day, a grassroots movement celebrating local communities, ideas and people. Starting in Tampa, Fla., in 2010, Foursquare Day was created by Nate Bonilla-Warford, an optometrist and local business owner. Nate, a numbers guy and Pi Day celebrator, pointed out that 42 = 16, and proposed that April 16 should be known as Foursquare Day. With the help of an independent group of Tampa social media nerds, on March 26, Foursquare made it official with a tweet.

As the first official social media holiday, with more than 555,000 check-ins, 20,000 new user sign-ups, and 14,330 #4sqday badges distributed, the first Foursquare Day rocked it! Three years and 3 billion check-ins later, Foursquare Day is still the place and time for local businesses to join the conversation.

So how do you get involved in this global one-day social media festival? Here are four best practices for local businesses looking to increase discoverability on #4sqDay:

1) Give a little to get a lot

We all love a good deal, a freebie, or being rewarded for something. Foursquare makes it easy for businesses (you must claim your business first!) to offer Specials to help increase check-ins, which ultimately equals increased in-store foot traffic. This is ideal for connecting the dots between offline and online interaction with your customers. Also, offering a check-in special for first-time customers and/or repeat customers is the perfect way to show gratitude, encourage word-of-mouth referrals, and create long-lasting relationships with your customers.

When a local business takes advantage of a Special, their visibility on Foursquare greatly increases. In the search bar, users can “Browse Nearby,” then have the option to search Specials. To attract new customers or reward returning friends, try offering one of these Specials:

  • Newbie Special – “Free smoothie on your 1st visit!”
  • Check-In Special – “Get a free pair of socks when you check-in.”
  • Loyalty Special – “Get a free meal every 5th check-in.”

Note: Foursquare has streamlined Specials and have now deactivated Flash, Swarm, Friends, and Mayor Specials effective Feb. 1.

McDonald’s, a Foursquare Day original, used the Check-In Special idea for a campaign and awarded 100 $5 and $10 gift cards to random diners for checking in. The entire campaign only cost $1,000, but the attention that it drew to McDonald’s was invaluable.

Bonus Tip: Make sure employees are aware of the Special for this particular day. Here’s a guide to show them. Also, there are no badges for 2014 in case a customer asks your employee.

2)  The view from the top

Think about what would capture your attention if you were waiting for the bus in the morning. Now, how can you amplify that message?

By promoting your “local updates,” businesses can expect to reach and engage with a larger community of potential new customers and previously checked-in customers. Businesses should remain consistent to their branding as well as offline and online promotions. Leveraging local updates allows anyone who views your business listing can see your updates on their phone.

Foursquare tailors these promotions toward a specific audience of users feeds that have relevant personal interests and targeted local reach areas that are most likely to connect with you. By mapping interests and creating a crowdsourced map, Foursquare profiles its users based on where they shop, eat, and what they say about their experiences. Foursquare learns users habits taking into account sentiment and time, then pushes content relevant to that user which may include your promoted local update.

Bonus Tip: With Foursquare Day, offering a Special and coupling it with a promotion is a smart tactic to help boost impressions and sales.

3)    Party on, dudes!

Finding a way to inspire people to engage with your brand online and, most importantly, establish a connection with people offline may seem like a difficult task to align. However, Foursquare Day intrinsically links online and offline marketing efforts. Take this as an opportunity to put creativity to work and create a memorable experience for not only your consumers, but your neighboring businesses as well.

Here are some tips and ideas for hosting a 4sqDay event:

  • Be sure to fill out the graphics permission form to use the 4sqDay 2014 logo. If you have questions, hop on Twitter using #4sqCHAT and the team will help you.
  • Fill out this form for a swag pack (deadline is April 1st every year)
  • Organize the event on MeetUp. Check out 4sqAtl, they’ve had huge success in the past!
  • Get other local businesses active and host a Foursquare Crawl to keep people checking in around the area throughout the day. Or pair up with businesses nearby to offer Specials that complement one another. Try to have a Special ready to go once people check-in.
  • Contact local media outlets via email or send them a Tweet.
  • Host a scavenger hunt that offers the winner a big prize.
  • Set aside 5-10min for a Tip-Making party then reward the person with the most tips with some swag.

If you’re not involved in an event, start celebrating by visiting a local business that you’ve never been to before. They’ll be happy to see you!

Bonus Tip: Share your photos and posts using the hashtag #4sqDay or mention @4sqSupport.

4)    I’ll rub your back if you’ll rub mine

To help inspire others to join in on the 4sqDay fun, ask your loyal Foursquare users to share the check-in on Twitter or Facebook. Networking on multiple channels with consumer created content provides businesses with extended reach, but also naturally produced content. Be sure to spread the word to your other social channels, email list, signage in store and blog.

Note: Once you’ve claimed your business, you will be mailed a Foursquare decal – put this in your storefront window. You can also ask a local 4sqDay organizer for one.

Don’t be afraid to ask for Tips from your walk-ins and also be sure to add Tips for the business across the street. Once a tip is left, if users friends on Foursquare checks-in near the local business, the tip will pop up in notifications.

Bonus Tip: If you haven’t yet, connect your business Twitter page to Foursquare account. This allows your Twitter handle to show up in their Tweet.   

To the 1.3 million businesses on Foursquare, I hope you participate in the awesomeness of this social media holiday. From person-to-person recommendations to adding to your bottom line, if you can show Foursquare users how much you appreciate their business, then you’ll receive the gift that keeps on giving: customer loyalty.

Anna Crowe is digital marketing strategist at seoWorks with more than 4 years of experience, helping drive engagement for major brands like McDonald’s, staySky Hotels and Resorts, Hearst Magazines, and Ibis Sydney World Square, to name a few. When Anna isn’t posting a puppy picture or attending another social conference, she enjoys quoting scenes from “Top Gun” and taking naps. She also plays soccer with the Atlanta Silverbacks. Connect with her on Twitter @annaleacrowe.