Understanding Foursquare

What is it?

Foursquare is a location-based service (LBS) that lets people use their smart phones to see what's near them - pretty cool, right? More than likely, your restaurant is not the only joint in town. So why should the over 15 million (and growing!) users of Foursquare choose you? Well, you're awesome, but beyond that here are a few tips to land new customers and encourage your regulars. For the restaurant, the secret to leveraging Foursquare is all about the "Specials," listen close and you'll see how they can make a big impact.

Location, Location, Location!

I have an address and so does everyone else, what's going to make a potential nearby guest choose me? Having a Special on Foursquare will make your restaurant "pop" off the screen. Foursquare lists all nearby venues but highlights ones that offer a special for "Checking In."

Getting a First Date:

There are 3 ways Foursquare can help bring uninitiated customers through your door. 1) a newbie special for a 1st checkin (e.g. 1/2 off an appetizer) 2) "Tips" display short user-generated bursts of info about your restaurant that other users can bump up or down based on relevancy or 3) using Single Platform for your menu which Foursquare in turn has built into their app for easy perusal.

Keep 'em Coming Back

ith so many untried options, how can a person justify coming back to the same place over and over? Foursquare dubs a "Mayor" for every venue decided upon by which user has the most checkins and specials can be tailored to go out to your most dedicated fan. A route with broader appeal is to encourage everyone to be a repeat visitor; offer a free dessert or whatever else you'd like every 5th (or 3rd or 10th or 100th) check in. Foursquare allows you to run multiple specials at once, so don't feel boxed in!

Analytics and Insight

Ignore the fancy math words. Foursquare kindly offers data about your visitors' age and gender, as well as the time of day and day of week that people visit your establishment. The data is certainly biased toward a more tech savvy demographic, but even limited information can reveal useful patterns.

Social Reach - Word of Mouth 2.0

By encouraging check-ins on Foursquare, you are indirectly also encouraging guests to tell their friends where they are checking in through seamless integration with Facebook and Twitter. Each time a person checks in they are prompted to share their location (maybe a comment and photo as well) with their social networks. Foursquare also allows you to track the "social reach" of your venue (those pesky analytics again) which measure the number of people who have your restaurant pop up on their radar.

Claim Your Venue

Though perhaps not quite as momentous (or presumptuous) as staking a flagpole into the moon, it is important that you have control of your restaurant's information on Foursquare as with any website. Having accurate info is critical to ensuring that guests are visiting you at the right hours, in the right location, and lets you add some personality to what can be an otherwise stale portrayal of your dynamic company. Also keep in mind that most of those really neat features like analytics are not available if you haven't registered your venue.