Foursquare is a relatively new social media tool that’s taking advantage of the latest craze: location-based social networking. It can be a helpful and inexpensive marketing strategy to help you learn about your customers and build loyalty to your restaurant or bar.
First, you have to understand it from the consumer side. Customers use their smartphones at a physical location, which is more or less found using the phone’s GPS, to virtually check in. It’s similar to someone telling all their friends “Hey, I’m at Joe’s Bar. If you’re nearby, stop in and join me for a drink.” If that person checks in more often than anyone else in a 60-day span, he or she becomes the bar’s “mayor.” That title carries a certain level of prestige in the social media world.
Most people who work in public relations, advertising and marketing will tell you: if you don’t control your brand, someone else will. For example, if someone is looking to check in to a venue that isn’t in the database yet, he or she can create it on the spot. I have seen many instances of incorrect addresses and misspellings of names of the establishments. Fortunately, foursquare allows restaurant/bar owners to claim their own virtual establishment. A foursquare employee will call you at your place and give you the information to log in as an owner (vs. as a consumer).
From here, you’ve just opened up a great marketing toolbox. I always recommend to clients to create a special for the mayors (e.g. one free domestic tap or rail). That leads to multiple benefits.
For one, most people go out to eat or drink with others, so a mayor who has earned this special will want to protect their mayorship with many return visits, all with their friends. In addition, others will keep coming back to try to steal the mayorship and get your special. This effectively replaces the loyalty punch cards you often see at restaurants and some bars. You can even make specials for check-ins and for frequency of visits (e.g. free appetizer every third check-in).
Information on the people checking in at your bar also is at your disposal. From the foursquare control panel, you may perhaps see that most people check in at your bar after 10 p.m., and that 7-10 p.m. is otherwise dead. As a result, you may change your staffing needs and/or create an early-bird special for that time period. Or you may find out that 90 percent of your customers are men, prompting you to add a Ladies’ Night.
Finally, taking ownership of your establishment on foursquare gives you the opportunity to add the correct address, phone, etc., as well as add the correct searchable tags for your place, such as “banquet facilities,” “outdoor seating” and “martinis.”
One last tip: don’t forget to tell your staff about your foursquare special. It’s frustrating to customers who show the waiters or bartenders their phone to prove they have just checked in for a certain special, and the staff has no idea what’s going on.
For more marketing tips for your restaurant or bar, please contact us at consulting [at] eatdrinkmadison.com.