This week, both Twitter and Facebook have come out with big location news. Twitter is adding geolocation features and Facebook will soon let users share their location. Both of those announcements could strike fear in the heart of a mobile check-in service like Foursquare. But Foursquare is banking its success in the mobile check-in space on attention to detail. And the company also has some new features — that could be very useful for small businesses. 

In the next few weeks, Foursquare is going to start sharing a free analytics tool that will help small businesses track — and communicate with — their customers.

According to The New York Times, Foursquare will soon let business access the consumer data that it has been steadily acquiring since it launched last year:

"With the new tool, businesses will be able to see a range of real-time data about Foursquare usage, including who has “checked in” to the place via Foursquare, when they arrived, the male-to-female customer ratio and which times of day are more active for certain customers. Business owners will also be able to offer instant promotions to try to engage new customers and keep current ones.  

That information could be extremely useful for small businesses trying to track consumer behavior.

Thirty small companies are testing the tool, and in a few weeks that number will increase to around 900. Available information includes Foursquare check-ins to a business, time of arrival, male-to-female ratio and hourly arrivals. Other exciting features are in the pipeline, like real-time promotions. Real-time coupons and information could go a long way toward helping businesses attract customers when they want them and to selling specific items.

Furthermore, small businesses will be able to communicate with people that come into their stores — or have stopped coming in:

"'If a restaurant can see one of its loyal customers has dropped off the map and is no longer checking in, the owner could offer them incentives to come back,' said [Tristan Walker, director of business development]."

But that could also lead to some trouble with users. According to The Times, one feature will include a staff page that "will allow employees to interact directly with customers using social networks."

Marketing spam originating from Foursquare could be unwelcome for the service's users. But Foursquare is clear that businesses can only contact customers through social media connected to Foursquare accounts. And users can opt out at any time. The site's privacy settings now include the following:

"We allow verified venue owners to see statistics about checkins at their venue. These stats include recent visitors, most frequent visitors and most popular checkin times. You can always opt out if you'd rather not share this data with the venues you visit."

For Foursquare, getting features like this right is key to keeping the favor of its users and getting businesses actively using their service. Companies large and small are desperate to get into local, real-time information. But delivering personalized content in a non-intrusive way is the key to success in the space, and Foursquare is working hard to get that part right.

Image: Foursquare

Meghan Keane

Published 9 March, 2010 by Meghan Keane

Based in New York, Meghan Keane is US Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter: @keanesian.

721 more posts from this author

You might be interested in

Comments (1)


Allen MacCannell

This is interesting. If venue owners actually *acted* on feedback on why someone doesn't show up much anymore, it could be a win win for everyone. So, if I said "You need fresher vegetables and fresh ocean fish" or "you need a better brand of chocolate sauce on your ice cream sundaes" - they might actually do something about that. However, in my experience, venue owners will do nothing if I tell them why I rarely show up anymore. And they only get hurt feelings if I am honest like that. It is amazing how businesses will not listen to feedback and how managers paying minimum wage don't even bother asking their employees to take feedback. So now I lunch at a place that knows how to grill fresh salmon and garnish that with the freshest tomatoes, because they were smart enough in the first place to know to provide that kind of meal in the first place. Of course, if the reason one doesn't show up anymore is "I don't live or work in that part of town anymore", one would expect to be taken off of frequent mailings. =)

over 8 years ago

Save or Cancel

Enjoying this article?

Get more just like this, delivered to your inbox.

Keep up to date with the latest analysis, inspiration and learning from the Econsultancy blog with our free Digital Pulse newsletter. You will receive a hand-picked digest of the latest and greatest articles, as well as snippets of new market data, best practice guides and trends research.