For those of you who
follow me on Twitter, you might have seen that I recently joined Foursquare, admittedly to try and find out what all the fuss was about.

In actual fact
I think it could provide great value to a lot of businesses, as well as certain
individuals trying to promote a cause or product.

What businesses is Foursquare good for?

In my opinion, Foursquare
as a marketing platform is a total waste of time for the majority of
businesses, as unlike Twitter the ability to target a specific niche audience
without having already built a relationship with them is very difficult,
because there is friction with adding new people (due to privacy concerns).

Foursquare

Image credit: Flickr

The obvious type of
company that benefits from using Foursquare are the ones that have a physical
location and are open to customers – such as a shop, a restaurant, or a theme
park. Here are some examples of businesses currently running marketing campaigns on Foursquare.

The reason why these
types of businesses have an advantage is because they can get leverage from
Foursquare’s shout functionality to incentivise customers to tweet or update
their Facebook statuses tagging the businesses name when they check in.

Many businesses
including Dominos Pizza also run mayor incentive programmes on Foursquare, whereby the mayor of a business
venue (the person who has visited a store the most times over a period of two months) receives a free gift, in Dominos’ case a free small pizza – this
obviously encourages customer loyalty, promotes word of mouth and raises
awareness of the brands name across customers social media profiles.

Another great thing
about having your business
on Foursquare
is that
you can see who has been checking in, which can help not only with audience
profiling, but also when it comes to building up other social media profiles
such as Twitter with real customers – and not just any customers, but the Gen-Y
ones that are web & social savvy and can help to promote your brand online.

What individuals is Foursquare
good for?

For most individuals
on Foursquare, they’re there because it’s fun, competitive, and a way of
telling your friends about the cool places you’ve been visiting. But for some
individuals trying to promote their cause or build a personal brand Foursquare
can be a great tool. 

There are
some great examples of musicians using Foursquare to promote their music and let their fans know
where they are on tour and where they’re heading, and even travel bloggers using Foursquare to map out their travel routes visually for their
blog readers to see.

Obviously, there are
many privacy issues when it comes to personal Foursquare accounts, which is one
of the major reasons that people are reluctant to join Foursquare, but  as long as your sensible (ie. not
registering your own home so that people can see when you’re out of the house!)
then you should be safe.