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On Small Business
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Posted at 08:00 AM ET, 09/24/2012

How small businesses can locate and lure new customers through Foursquare

Every other week, On Small Business reaches out to a panel of young entrepreneurs for answers to some of the most pressing social media and technology questions facing small business owners. The following responses are provided by members of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), a nonprofit organization comprised of entrepreneurs.

Q: How can small business owners use Foursquare to locate and lure new customers?


Foursquare can be a valuable tool for small business owners, especially if you’re willing to trade deals for check-ins.

Anthony Krumeich, CEO and co-founder of Bloodhound in San Francisco, California:

“Foursquare is great because everyone loves being able to check in and find out where their friends are. Check-ins and geolocation have become part of many apps including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, to name a few. The easiest way to use Foursquare is to simply tell customers and visitors to check in to your location. Getting everyone in your company to check in is a good starting point. Offering a deal or incentive for check-ins is great too. Receiving a 5 percent discount per order, getting a free pen, or some other reward for checking in can really drive social traffic that brings attention to your company.

If applicable, building integration with Foursquare into your product makes checking in as easy as possible for your users. Combining ease of use with some sort of incentive for checking in are the two best ways to leverage Foursquare to find and lure new customers. By greasing the wheels on these potential sticking points, you make checking in something that one wants to do instead of something one has to do.”

Joseph Ricard, founder of Plum Investors in Miami, Florida:

“I have used Foursquare a lot, but I feel I am not the norm. Foursquare is kind of the social marketing tool that most people are not using as much. I actually use it personally because you can sync it with your American Express, and you get a lot of discounts for checking in on your Amex.

I see a lot of value in Foursquare, and more use if you promote your location and include a check-in promotion feature. If you can incentivize your customer to check in, then you will see a better return of it. Most people I see are using Yelp, because it has a quick easy way to see reviews, tips, etc. If you plan on using Foursquare, don’t just ask people to check in. Go to the foursquare for business section and connect with your customers, but also create some promotions (https://foursquare.com/business/merchants).

Having promotions like ‘free drinks at check in’ will have people check in all the time to save money. That will bombard all of their friends with the check-ins and cause them to come check-in to save money. I have seen promotions like this that go out to social media outlets and build a lot of attraction.

I actually see a lot of value in using them all together: Foursquare, Instagram, Facebook Places and Twitter.

Foursquare has a lot of good options -- if the business using it does a little research.”

Matt Hunckler, founder and president of Verge in Indianapolis, Indiana:

“Obviously, Foursquare can be used to offer specials and discounts to your customers. But picking the right benefit can make the different between mediocre geo-marketing and a viral campaign that brings swarms of customers to your business.

Have fun with creating your customer experiences. Remember that the check-in rewards that stand out are the ones that get tweeted or shared, and prompt positive reviews and recommendations. So, invest the time in brainstorming fresh ideas with which to experiment. Have fun with it, and your customers will too.

One of the most engaging ways to create an experience for your customers is to host an event. It’s usually best to host at your office or venue, but you can create new events within the Foursquare app and still get your brand in front of new potential customers. Encourage your attendees to check in with Foursquare by providing a benefit like a prize with a specific time at which the winner will be announced. You’ll generate more Foursquare check-ins and cross-platform sharing by posting venue names and hashtags on signs and announcing over a PA. For bonus points, host an event series, and you’ll keep your fans coming back (and checking in) for more.”

Follow the YEC and On Small Business on Twitter.

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.

Do you have questions you would like to see answered by these young entrepreneurs? Share them with us in the comments below or via email and we’ll pass them along to the YEC for future series.

By  |  08:00 AM ET, 09/24/2012

Tags:  small business, advice

 
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