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For when I need more than 140 characters to finish a thought on marketing, media or message.

On the road with @foursquare

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Although I’m opposed to texting and driving, I must confess that I will check in on foursquare when I’m at a stoplight. It’s not the best habit I’ve ever had, but I’ve had worse. As a result of these check-ins, I’m the mayor of at least three intersections in the D.C. metro area.

Watch me soar! Today, Tysons Corner! Tomorrow, the world!

I’m just kidding. I’m not destined to take over anything other than my 3-foot-by-3-foot faux cubicle at work. Perhaps this is why I play for mayorships on foursquare: I need a goal to boost my sense of self because I’m not finding the challenge anywhere else. So I’ll play foursquare when I’m stuck in traffic on the road to nowhere, and sometimes I see nearby deals that are nearly as odd as the check-ins themselves.

Most recently when I checked into “Behind this slow-ass Toyota,” I saw a nearby deal at The Metropolitan at Lorton Station. I had thought this was a restaurant, but upon further investigation — conducted in front of a computer, not in traffic — I found out it’s an apartment complex — one of a chain, in fact. Foursquare players who check in and leave a “gracious tip” can earn extra entries in a monthly gift-card giveaway. A few more searches and scrolls told me this special is available at several Kettler properties in the area, including the Fields at Merrifield, which I found during another poorly timed stoplight. This is a special obviously designed for residents who know what the properties are, not a particularly wide audience.

Another recent deal I spotted while stuck in traffic: 5% discount with the first check-in at Merrifield Oriental Rug on Dorr Avenue. Although I firmly believe small-business owners should avail themselves of all of social media’s marketing opportunities, I have to wonder whether foursquare would reach this store’s demographic. Maybe. I’ll hope so.

I’m also curious as to how many responses Inova Urgent Care Center in Vienna has received for its special. They’re offering a free “blood pressure tracker wallet card” for first check-ins. This is another special targeted to a very specific group — a much older group than those who would be psyched by the free music Old Navy is offering for check-ins.

In non-traffic-related-check-in news, a recent visit to Tysons Corner Center showed no new deals other than those I reported last time. The store managers there need to step-up their location-based marketing efforts. Wired-in kids with lots of Mom & Dad’s discretionary income run that mall and they’re checking in. If I were running a shop there, my store’s name would be all over foursquare. It’s easy, it’s free and you can’t afford not to do it.

ABOUT THIS SERIES: As a marketing student interested in social media’s role in promotion, I record specials that I see when I check in on foursquare. For me, it’s fun to see how businesses are using it to court customers, which stores are catching on — and which ones aren’t. This project is mostly to satisfy my intellectual curiosity, so stoppers-by might be bored. Googlers, if you’re looking for information about MAC’s Wonder Woman cosmetic line and foursquare offer, here’s the post.


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 employers'. 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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