If you are reading this blog post, you probably know that I am pretty involved in Social Media. Some may say I am addicted to it!
I am active on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, FourSquare, Plaxo, and still have a MySpace account, though I don’t really use it that much. I haved tried out Google Buzz, FriendFeed, and several business only SM sites. (Heck, I have even checked out Chat Roulette and Omegle – but that is an entirely different story)
Out of all of these, one that I fail to see the value in for a computer service, repair and sales business like Homeland Secure IT is FourSquare. Don’t get me wrong, I love it. I use it constantly, and get very frustrated when it isn’t working like I think it should. But I use it for personal purposes. If you have not played with FourSquare, it is a geolocation based social media “tool” that lets you “check-in” to a venue or location when you get there using your GPS equiped smartphone. Assume you go to Starbucks for a quick Dark Cherry Mocha Frapp – you “check-in” and now the whole world can see what you are doing. You can brag to Twitter & Facebook that you have disposable income you can spend on yummy coffee.
Same thing goes for attractions like amusement parks, ball games, and stores like say, “Target”. If you check-in enough times, you become the “Mayor” of that venue!
Here is where the value of FourSquare comes in… Assume you check-in and become mayor of XYZ Sandwich Shop. You have been announcing this for a while, everytime you visit there. The whole world has seen you were there, giving free advertisement to XYZ! But, if XYZ is smart, they will reward you for your loyalty and offer a free sandwich when someone becomes Mayor, and maybe a free drink every time the Mayor visits after that. A very cheap price to pay for this type of advertising.
Many places, especially restaurants, will offer specials that popup when you check-in near their venue. These will show up as a “SPECIAL NEARBY – Check out the great ribs at ABC BBQ”, which can help bring new business into these places. And still other places will offer you a free entree when you visit several of their location. FourSquare itself offers “Badges” for accomplishing certain feats, such as checking into three Starbucks locations.
All that said, our business does not have foot traffic nor visitors, so offering a “Free Virus Cleanup” to a mayor would be silly. I believe I am the only person to check-in to our location in the months that I have been using it. But it does bring up a pet peeve of mine. Today I was ousted as Mayor of a local coffee shop – BY THE OWNER OF THE PLACE. Wow, that doesn’t do anything to help with loyalty. My suggestion to places that want to check-in themselves, create a second venue, call it XYZ Sandwich Shop STAFF, and let the staff go crazy checking in!
I would further suggest that business owners who can benefit from FourSquare’s power of (free) advertising, take advantage of it the way it was meant to be used. Offer Mayors a treat, some recognition, and encourage them to remain the mayor and others to try and oust the current mayor. 4sq is both a FUN, and a very useful business tool, when used properly.
BTW: If you can think of a way 4sq can be used to promote our computer repair business here in Greenville, and increase loyalty, well I’m all ears, but until that happens, I will be trying to take my place as mayor of every great business in the Upstate! Watch out Mayors, I’m coming for you…
BTW: Have fun, it is only a game! (But seriously, I’m coming for you)… Also check out other geolocational based SM tools / toys like Gowalla, Gypsii, BrightKite, Loopt, etc…