Foursquare and PR: Friends or Foes?

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A smart phone equipped with the Foursquare app is a business owners dream, especially for local business owners who acquire the bulk of their customer traffic from word of mouth and recommendations. Foursquare gives smart phone users the ability to “check-in” anywhere they currently are, including restaurants, stores, even friend’s houses and college buildings.

What’s the point, you ask? Depending on the business, many companies give free merchandise and products to the “Mayor” of their location. A foursquare user secures Mayor status by being the person with the most check-ins at a certain location within the past 60 days. Companies that give away “Foursquare Freebies” include Chili’s (free chips and salsa), American Eagle (discounts on clothing purchases), and even Dominoes (free pizza to select participants).

Now where does PR play into all of this? Really, it’s all about PR! Foursquare, which can be linked to Facebook and Twitter, is a technological method of spreading company awareness by word of mouth. I, for example, was completely unaware that a Yogurt Mountain (one of my favorite frozen yogurt destinations) was built in Lakeland until I saw that one of my Facebook friends had checked in there on my news feed. Had I not seen this check-in, who knows how long it would have been until I knew about Yogurt Mountain’s Lakeland location.

Trends on Foursquare can also be effective attention getters, and seeing that multiple friends have checked-in to a similar destination makes social media consumers want to try the place everyone’s talking about. Many social media consumers are typically pretty trendy people, and often times it is this demographic that is eager to try new and hip places. Foursquare puts businesses on the trend map and simultaneously gives companies the chance to make their customers feel significant by validating the importance of their patronage. It’s an ideal PR tool for all types of businesses. Social media experts have even made articles available on how to utilize Foursquare to benefit your business. Kyle Lacy in his article, “5 Ways to Use Foursquare for Business” gives a brief summary and how a business can capitalize on Foursquare to maximize benefits.

Foursquare can be dangerous however if you make your check-ins accessible to anyone and everyone. Giving strangers the ability to know your every move can be risky, especially when checking-in to your home. However, when used responsibly, the app is a fun and resourceful way to recommend your favorite businesses to friends and other social media acquaintances.

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