3-Minute WOM Lesson: 3 ways to create buzz with Foursquare

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Have you played with Foursquare yet? It’s that location-based social network people use to tell friends where they are, share tips, and earn points and badges for all the places they go — and it just hit 10 million users.

Of course, a word of caution: Foursquare is another tool in the chest (and certainly not the only location-based network to consider).

Maybe it’s for you, maybe it isn’t. But if you want to explore it, start by checking out how other smart word of mouth marketers are using it:

1. To encourage check-ins
2. To bring in groups of people
3. To promote loyal fans

1. To encourage check-ins

Having customers “check in” at your locations on Foursquare is a good thing. Doing so automatically tells their Foursquare friends where they are, and often these updates also get pushed to Facebook and Twitter. Chicago’s Wow Bao restaurant offers a simple example of how to encourage this instant word of mouth: They have a buy-one, get-one special for Foursquare users. (Side note: The Wow Bao folks use several tools very well and are worth a further look for more great ideas.)

2. To bring in groups of people

Foursquare can be a great way to bring in groups of people — and getting groups into your store is a great way to multiply the word of mouth. In one example, Chili’s did it by offering a complimentary appetizer whenever a group of three friends or more checked in at their restaurant. And in other examples, businesses have thrown Foursquare parties to help users earn swarm badges (which are unlocked when 50, 250, 500, and 1,000 people check in to a location at the same time).

3. To promote loyal fans

Promoting and rewarding loyal fans is a great way to develop long-term word of mouth, and Foursquare can help you do it. Thanks to the “mayor” feature (a status Foursquare awards to the person with the most check-ins at any location), loyal users are easy to identify. New York’s John Dory Oyster Bar, for example, gives their mayor the special perk of being able to make reservations (something others can’t do), and in another example, New Jersey’s MarketFair Mall honors their mayor with a reserved parking spot.

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