Why I Think Foursquare Matters

Over the past week, I’ve seen quite a few blogs and articles on the relevance of Foursquare and any other location based service.  Titles like Why Most Marketers Should Forgo Foursquare and The Time for Foursquare Marketing is…Later? might lead you to believe companies should wait to see if there is any benefit to these services.

These articles go on to provide statistics on the usage.  “Only 4% of U.S. online adults have ever used location-based mobile apps.”  That percentage might seem small but I would argue that although small the opportunity to lead is greater with limited risk.  My friend Gini Dietrich broke it down this way in her blog post about the location based technologies:

Worldwide, nearly 2 billion people use the Internet and, in North America, there are more than 265 million. If 4 percent use Foursquare, that’s 80 million people worldwide and nearly 11 million people in North America. If you break it down even further and say you only want to reach the 1 percent who check in at least once a week, that’s still 800,000 worldwide and 106,000 people in North America.

If it were up to me, I think a test market with the sample size of 106,000 is enough to get learnings on the best way to use these services.  There are enough ideas to test and the brand or marketer that can figure it out first (congratulate Starbucks on being one of the first) will be a step ahead of those just starting to think about it.

So why am I writing another blog post about the location-based services?  I have a personal example of why these can be an extension of a company’s marketing efforts.  Last week, I was in the process of getting a loan to buy a car at Cornerstone Community Financial.  I was there a couple of times and checked in on Foursquare eventually getting the mayorship of that branch.  As I went through my day yesterday, I received this tweet from Cornerstone telling me because I was mayor, I won a $5 gift card to Blockbuster!

This isn’t a huge deal but this is what it told me:

  • Cornerstone was paying attention to who visited their business by using the social web
  • They value their customers by rewarding them for repeat business

I’m now impressed with them and am thinking about changing banks as I listen to Julianne complain about PNC as she does our monthly budget.  (As a side note, if you go to PNC’s Twitter page, they clearly state the account is “intended for distribution only.”)  I think most of us as consumers might find even this little token of appreciation enough to think about a switch.  All this for just a check in!

The final thing I’ll leave you with is this video from Charlie Wollborg.  He talks about how Foursquare can be used to encourage others to vote.

Imagine the possibilities if you take advantage of a minuscule 4% of the online adult population.  Does it matter to you?  Is it worth the risk?

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