The infamous McDonald’s Foursquare Pilot

McDonalds Store in Dortmund, Germany

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I came across a few post about McDonald’s recent experiments with Foursquare so I was curious to dig in and went straight to the source.  I know Rick Wion so I dropped him a note to see how he was doing and what the real story was from his perspective.  While I only know Rick informally I can tell you that, while Rick made a mistake in language when describing the pilot, it was accidental.  In trying to simplify Foursquare he gave the wrong impression leading to some very confusing data.     

However, his approach on this campaign can be learned from as a lot of great work was done that others can leverage.   

The Approach   

Foursquare, GoWalla, Scavngr, Facebook Places, and all the other geo-social applications are new technologies for marketers.  Heck, they are new technologies altogether.  Any organization beginning to use these solutions should take an iterative approach:   

  • Learn if customers would benefit by doing a pilot, measuring check-ins. This is simple to setup and is a good starting point.
  • If there is interest, setup a second pilot with a larger audience and measure revenue. Does the organization see sufficient return on their investment?
  • If the metrics show value to customers and the organization than deploy fully.

As Rick told me the only goal for this first pilot was “…this was a pilot program to gauge how the foursquare community would react to our joining their community”.  Could it have been more?  Yes, but it was not intended to do more than that.   

The results   

McDonald’s achieved a 33% increase in check-ins on Foursquare Day, the day they ran this pilot.  Since the pilot the number of check-ins have increased above the previous average but have not returned to the number seen during the pilot itself.   

Revenue.  Rick could not give me an exact number but it’s fair to say that McDonald’s did not see a 33% increase in revenue, even from those checking in on Foursquare.  However, McDonald’s has seen revenues increase week over week throughout this entire year.  The real question in my mind, which cannot be answered for this pilot, is did they make a positive ROI, was the effort worthwhile?   

This was the first pilot, others will come and in those we will be able to better see if ROI was achieved.  The goals of this first pilot were clearly achieved, however, and I can’t wait to see the next round.  Rick, if you need help setting it up to measure the revenue returned, give me a call, as I know you’re on the right track.  Keep up the great work.   


Filed under: Case Studies, Social Tagged: business, case study, Facebook, Foursquare, Foursquare Solutions, Internet Marketing, Marketing, Marketing and Advertising, McDonald, metrics, Pilot experiment, Social Ecosystem, Social media
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