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Originally established for times when I needed more than 140 characters to finish a thought on marketing or media.

It’s hip to be (Four)square

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A Facebook “friend” commented Friday that he’s had enough of my foursquare posts. He thinks foursquare is silly. He fails to see the social network as a potential marketing tool, something that can measure consumer behavior and loyalty.

That’s a shame considering that he fancies himself quite the restaurateur, a real businessman who believes in “ABC” — always be closing.

But you can’t close customers who aren’t there. If you’re a brick-and-mortar, you have to get them in the building to sell them something, right?

Foursquare offers free publicity. What business owner wouldn’t want to take advantage of that? When I check in at business, 175 Facebook friends know its name and location — and more than half of them live within a 20-mile radius, making them potential customers. If you’re operating a restaurant and you have a regular customer who is checking in at your place of business three, four, five times a week — spending precious discretionary income — wouldn’t you want their friends checking in, too?

Case in point: On Saturday, I checked in at Mad Fox Brewery, a restaurant that I learned of through Facebook and foursquare. I spent $71 on a dinner for two (not including the 20%+ tip). This is the third time I’ve been more than happy to drop nearly $100 at this dining establishment. What if I had decided to expand my experience and invited my pals in the vicinity to join me? Foursquare told me one friend was down the street. If I had tapped her to join us, dessert could have turned into after-dinner drinks. The check could have easily grown by at least third. All good news for the business that I learned about through social media.

Coincidentally, Mashable published the latest in its Small Business Round Table Series on Friday, the same day my Facebook friend dismissed my check-ins. The article features four small-business insiders talking about the ins and outs of location-based services. Here’s what Josh Pelz, social media manager for Gansevoort Hotel Group, had to say about their social efforts:

It’s like being on the web 10 years ago — some people were putting up webpages, some people were saying ‘It’s not for me.’ But it’s necessary. Be involved. It costs you nothing. Take the time.

That sounds like someone who sees the value in my need to be sociable — and in my discretionary income. Nothing silly about that.

UPDATE: I just checked in at Ruby Tuesday’s and when I did, I got a notice about a special at a nearby store I had forgotten about and will likely visit now that I’ve remembered it. Behold! The power of foursquare.

Author: Jacqui Barrineau

Jacqui Barrineau is a writer and editor who lives in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., with husband Trey, a Shetland Sheepdog and two unhelpful-but-funny cats. Her work has appeared in "So to Speak" and "Calliope," and she's a regular contributor to the flash-fiction sites Paragraph Planet and Doorknobs & Bodypaint. Once upon a time, she was the audience engagement editor at USA Today. Now she does other fun things that involve advertising, marketing and social media. The views expressed here and in other outlets are hers, not her clients'. Outside of work, she's proud to serve on the Northern Virginia Community College Marketing Advisory Committee. As a committee member, she joins industry leaders in lending their knowledge and expertise to ensure the college's Marketing curriculum is relevant and responsive to the needs of the students and the surrounding business communities.

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