Watch Out Google, Here Comes Foursquare
The Internet is getting increasingly social. That's a great thing for some people. Think about it. What is the best form of advertising? It's referral advertising, isn't it? Who do you trust more: an obvious and polished advertisement created by professional a Madison Avenue advertising agency or your friend?
Let's say you're hungry, and you don't want to cook. So, you decide to go out to eat. You surf the Internet or your T.V. for something delicious. You see a slick ad for a big-box chain restaurant. There are images of moist, delicious hamburgers. There are images of hot and oily french fries cascading over an empty plate sprinkled with salt and pepper and some kind of mysterious, but delicious looking, seasoning.
You might be enticed to go out to eat at this joint. However, how many times have you gone to a restaurant only to discover that what you get on your plate isn't the same thing as what you saw in the commercial? Does this scene from the 1993 movie "Falling Down" strike a chord with you?
How much better would it have been if you had a friend to warn you about restaurants with bad food? Foursquare does exactly that, and more. Foursquare is an application available for your smartphone, although they do have an actual website. The website isn't quite as useful as the mobile application since the whole point of Foursquare is to "check in" wherever you go. Checking in is accomplished by pressing "Check In Here" on the "check in" tab within the application.
This company has figured out a way to get people to play this "check-in" game consistently, and then offer real-time feedback about the place they are visiting. That's incredible for you, as an advertiser and as a local business. For users, it brings everyone just a little bit closer together since your feedback can help other people decide on where to go. Likewise, other peoples' feedback might influence where you do business.
Are you going to the grocery store? Foursquare lets you check in and leave feedback while you're there. Does the produce section stink? Are the apple's mushy? Does the deli look a little too dingy for your taste? Is the staff unfriendly? You can now tell other people all about it.
What's more, Foursquare will clue you in as to what's around you. If you want to go bar-hopping on a Friday night, Foursquare gives you a list of all the local bars. Like Google places, you can read reviews about the place before you pay an expensive cover-charge. You may not have to search for what you're looking for since Foursquare lets you press a button and search for things like food, coffee, nightlife, and shops. They even have a search button for "specials." All of this is meant to encourage you to get out and explore the area you live in.
Unlike Google places, Foursquare is a bit more social. Sure, you can use Google Latitude, Google +, and Google Places to hack together the same experience as you get from Foursquare, but Foursquare is more intuitive at this point. That could spell trouble for Google's local search if they let this slip.
How This Helps You
The game is cool and all, but so what? What does this do for you? Simple. Foursquare lets you plug your business into its search engine. You can create special deals and coupons for people who "check in" to your place, and you can create incentives and rewards for loyal customers. Talk about a way to earn very loyal repeat business.
This application doesn't offer any quarter for those businesses offering crappy products and services. It won't take long before bad business is weeded out by consistently negative reviews. It's a neat way to get help from the community. Other people will kill your competition for you. All you have to do is be the best in your industry. That may seem like a tall order but, if you're passionate about what you do, you'll welcome the challenge and you'll be rewarded for your efforts.