Foursquare Says, “Click Here To Make Him Or Her Your Friend”

On November 24, 2009, James Hoffman, a World Barista Champion, coffee blogger, and owner of Square Mile Coffee Roasters pondered about the future of foursquare , a location based application where people check into their favorite places, in a blog post:

Coffee shops seemed pretty quick to embrace twitter, and it will be interesting to see if that experience has soured social media for them, or if they’ll embrace foursquare too.

Last week, I met with Peter at Tully’s where we both checked-in via foursqure. Prior to meeting up, I was hanging out at Spotted Cow Cream & Bean  where he saw me check-in as well. Replying and knowing that I was nearby, Peter sent me a tweet.

And yet another was sent after I mentioned that we discussed, among many things, foursquare and its use by coffee shops.

Peter and I would not have met at Tully’s if it wasn’t for my check-in. In fact, our first encounter was even more random; he recognized my Twitter avatar and approached me at Spotted Cow weeks before.
Foursquare is good for business and Starbucks agrees; they are testing out an experimental customers rewards program. Likewise, foursquare is in the process of developing an analytics tool and dashboard so businesses can better monitor their check-in customers. Jay Deragon of The Relationship Economy writes:

The Next Economic Paradigm is arriving and the first entries include Foursquare.

There are many ways for businesses to use foursquare and Katie Wassmer has them well documented. She offers the following 5:

  • Rewards for check-ins and Mayors: Decide on your offer, promote it via Twitter, Facebook, your Web site, signage, etc., and train your employees to approve eligibility by checking customers’ mobile devices.
  • Make your most loyal customers feel special: Hold an event for the people who frequent your business the most, or offer them a special discount. Let them know they are appreciated.
  • Encourage customers to come back: If someone was Mayor of your business in January, but then had no check-ins in February, send them an offer to come back.
  • Fill your business on a slow night: If Tuesdays are typically a slow time for your business, offer a check-in special, or a discount to the first person to become Mayor.
  • Sponsor the leaderboard: Foursquare’s leaderboard shows the people who have earned the most points in a city that week. Foursquare recently opened it up to sponsorship.
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Social media is making place matter and there are countless ways for coffee shops to leverage foursquare, but it’s the online / offline opportunities—for conversation of course—that excite me most. Here are some ideas using foursquare that coffee shops, and businesses in general, can implement to create opportunities for in person and online conversation:

  • Connect with your foursquare customers online via Twitter and in person.
  • Introduce your foursquare customers to each other via Twitter; they may have something in common. Peter and I are avid Seattle Mariners fans.
  • Create a Twitter list (one for each location if there are multiple) identifying your foursquare customers and another for mayors only.
  • Offer incentives to check-in customers who bring a friend.
  • Put a display on the front counter that reads, “Meet your mayor.”
  • Set up a foursquarecrawl (Peter’s idea).
  • Post a tip, “Introduce yourself to your fellow check-in regulars.”
  • Identify a table in your coffee shop for WiFi, foursquare, and Twitter using customers.

I don’t always “Click here to make him / her your friend” in the emails I receive from foursquare, but I rarely delete unless the avatar is spammy. Instead, I add them to my private foursquare pending Twitter list. After an exchange of Tweets, I remove him or her and accept. Why? It’s not always what you know, but who you know, and in this case, who you’ve yet to meet that may have the greatest impact on your life.

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