happy foursquare day (and what the platform is)

Foursquare is four. The geo-location check in game is often overlooked as a social media channel by comms people. But with 45 million users it's maybe time for a second look. 

by John Fox

Happy Foursquare Day 2014. “Foursquare Day? What’s that?” Today, April 16, is the sixteenth day - four squared - of the fourth month of the year.

Foursquare is a social media web and mobile phenomenon that allows registered users to post their location at a venue. Such a check-in requires active user selection and points are awarded for each check-in, and each check-in can be posted on their accounts on Twitter, Facebook, or both. 

Since 2010 Foursquare (often abbreviated to 4SQ) users who checked in to a venue on 16th April and tagged their check-in with ‘Happy 4SQ Day!’ would earn a special Foursquare Day ‘badge’ as a thank you for their loyalty. That, alas, will not happen today for reasons that are not entirely clear.

Foursquare offers a different kind of social media engagement with customers. For starters it is location-focused and secondly it enables a service provider to reward regular customers with badges, prizes or special offers.  It’s a serious business opportunity in the US, and whilst it is widely used globally with 45 million users, but it would be fair to say that adoption in the UK is comparatively low.

I am surprised that organisations in this country have been slow to take advantage of the social data opportunity that Foursquare represents. Here is a tool that allows them to see who their customers are, directly engage with them and promote their business to new customers.

It is the social data available to listing owners that transforms this channel into a compelling business proposition.  It offers the option to easily view and track data and analytics from listings.  As a manager, you have access to free analytics to monitor your foot traffic and learn about your customers. Get to know who's checking in each week and how many are sharing their check-ins to Facebook and Twitter, who is visiting for the first time, and more besides.

Potential customers see your listing when they search for places to go – they can look at photos and tips people leave, call you directly from the Foursquare app, or look up your address so that they can stop by. Listings include basic information like address and phone number, but a listing owner should be sure to add:


  • A business description
  • Hours of operation
  • Your website
  • Social media links (Facebook, Twitter)
  • Menus (for food and services)
  • Details (payment options, wifi, delivery, and more)



A business owner first needs to ‘claim’ their listing, which involves evidencing your right to be listed as owner. Once complete you are able to encourage your customers to visit more often by posting Foursquare updates. Share exciting news, upcoming events, or featured items. Updates are shown to customers nearby who have checked in before, as well as to people looking at your business listing in the Foursquare app or on the website.

You can thank your customers for checking in and spreading the word about your business by offering a Foursquare Special. Specials can be anything, like a free drink on the 3rd visit, 10% discount, or an upgrade to the front row. They’ll show their phone to your staff to redeem the reward – easy as that! Analytics enable you to assess the impact of your updates and specials on traffic to your venue. This data can then be used to quantify footfall, or to evidence customer demand for the service provided.

You can count on the biggest brands to use all of the different social media channels for promotion and Coca-Cola certainly did this with one of its more recent campaigns. Encouraging more people to get active and to start heading to local, state and national parks in the US, the campaign asked people to check-in to the park they were visiting where it would get 100 points. When the totals were added up, the park with the highest amount of points would receive a $100,000 donation from Coca-Cola and the parks would put on additional activities for Foursquare users to keep them active.

Public sector organisations here could claim their Foursquare listings; perhaps a local swimming pool could offer discounted entrance to users who check-in when arriving for a swim session, or a local library with a café bar could offer a free cup of coffee for every fifth check-in. Foursquare users would tell their friends and encourage them to take advantage of the special offers and so the data mining opportunities start to be created.

 Visit www.foursquare.com/business to find out more and to claim your own listing.

John Fox is a digital strategist and web user experience practitioner.

Picture credit.

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