More reasons for business to understand social media: Foursquare Day

OMG!  Unlocked Douchebag badge on @foursquare ...
Image by dpstyles™ via Flickr

The Tampa Bay area is not generally regarded as a leading hot bed for Internet business or techie innovation, but right now one simple but great idea is gaining global attention for one Tampa Bay small business owner dedicated to using the power of social networking to build his business.

Profiled in numerous places recently,  Nathan Bonilla-Warford (@NateBW on Twitter) is the owner of  Bright Eyes Family Vision Care in Westchase.  According to published reports, Bonilla-Warford was a geek of sorts in college, who is currently fascinated with a  social media tool called Foursquare.

“I was really intrigued by the whole game aspect of it,” he said. “As a business owner trying to use social media to promote my business, I saw the value in it. It just seemed like such a perfect application.”

So what is Nate’s big idea?  It takes place on April 16th.  It is called Foursquare Day, and it is a day designed to promote the use of the geo-location service in and around Tampa Bay.   But the idea has gone viral, and suddenly a lot of people are involved with this thing, all over the world from Tampa and San Francisco, and even in London and Europe.

Even the people who operate Foursquare are on board, “officially” declaring April 16th as an INTERNET holiday celebrating their product.

How to use Foursquare for your business

When he posted his original idea, Bonilla-Warford made some suggestions on how business owners might put the foursquare tool to work to promote themselves or draw customers.  These include:

For businesses:

Make sure your venue is up to date with correct info, tags, categories, etc. For example, here is Bright Eyes venue page.

Offer a special or discount on Foursquare Day! Tell everyone, put it on your web page, blog about it, tweet about it. Stay tuned for our #4sqday discount!

I don’t think it is an improper use of tips to add a tip for your venue that you are celebrating Foursquare Day with a special of some sort, but others may disagree on that point.

It has been suggested that anyone who gets 4 check-ins on Foursquare Day get a Foursquare Day badge. I am all for this! If anyone knows how to bring this badge closer to reality, let me know!

(source: Bright Eyes News blog)

Others have used a similar approach.

Earlier this month, the manager of a burger restaurant in Milwaukee used the location based social networking game to draw more than 150 customers on a Sunday afternoon.  How, you may ask?  “It’s all about the badges,”  says Joe Sorge, manager of the capacity filled AJ Bombers in downtown Milwaukee.  The event was marketed as a collective effort for local Milwaukee Foursquare users to work together in obtaining this rare badge.   Although, Sorge gives credit to people’s desire for these badges, he also recognizes that it’s “about community and building something.”

(source:  Tech Cocktail)

Here is what business in Tampa Bay is doing so far.

There are a lot of simple ways to encourage users to check in at your business, but it all comes down to rewarding customer loyalty based on the data behind foursquare usage.

Top 5 ways you can get involved (plus video) after the jump.

  1. Reward your mayor.   The mayor is the person who checks in most frequently at any establishment. Offering perks like free drinks, food specials, discounts and public promotion of your support helps build that competitive spirit and encourages others to check-in more frequently.  (Example: Hyatt Regency Tampa is giving a 50% restaurant discount to their mayor.) (Don’t allow your employees to check-in and become mayor or it throws the whole game off.)
  2. Offer discounts.  Encourage users to show their phones when they check-in at your business, and give them a discount for doing so.  Offer discounts for frequency of check-ins, sharing tips, and inviting their friends.
  3. Promote your foursquare love! Make sure your patrons know that you encourage the use of foursquare with frequently updated marquees, tweets and Facebook status updates about their check-in behavior.   Use your in-store marquees and signage to promote the discounts and perks you offer.
  4. Let foursquare know. On the iPhone and mobile web versions of foursquare, special attention is given to businesses that offer promotions or discounts for users.  Let foursquare know about your deals, and they’ll share some insights into what other businesses are experimenting with, what works and what doesn’t.
  5. Get involved with foursquare day (April 16). Promote your deals and foursquare itself for the next couple weeks to help encourage people to get on board and start using foursquare.  Become a fan on Facebook and stay tuned to what your colleagues and competitors are doing (because if you’re not going to do it, someone else certainly will!).  (source:  The Daily Loaf)

Where will you be on Foursquare Day?

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