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The pros and cons of Foursquare

2 min read


SmartPulse — our weekly reader poll in SmartBrief on Restaurants — tracks feedback from restaurant owners and managers about current trends and issues.

Last week’s poll question: What’s your opinion of Foursquare?

  • It’s a great marketing tool! It drives loyalty and traffic. — 18.42%
  • Not a fan. I don’t like feeling compelled to give away free things to “mayors.” — 35.53%
  • It’s an interesting concept, but I think it’s a fad. — 47.05%

Proponents of Foursquare, the mobile service that allows users to “check in” when they arrive at their destinations, say it’s great for geotargeting and attracting young customers. For example, McCormick and Schmick’s Seafood Restaurants has rolled out specials for guests who “check in” via the service. Earlier this month, The Wall Street Journal reported on the social media “check-in” phenomenon, highlighting how marketers and businesses are using the services to attract guests. In another example, Arby’s reserves seats for its locations’ mayors and offers them significantly discounted meals.

However, a little more than a third of SmartBrief on Restaurant readers don’t have warm and fuzzy feelings about Foursquare. Part of this may be because the service puts pressure on business to reward “mayors,” the guests who have checked in the most times. Additionally, some restaurants fail to see the benefit in a service available only to those who frequently use apps on their mobile devices. Some types of restaurants are not going to experience an uptick in “check-ins” because of the type of diners they cater to. Marketing Vox explores some of the challenges posed by Foursquare.

Check-in services aren’t limited to Foursquare either. Google Hotspot functions as a sort of hybrid Foursquare/Yelp. Social media company Meebo is preparing to launch its own Foursquare-like product.

Have you tried Foursquare as a consumer? Did you find it beneficial?