Some 4square Learnings

Recently I’ve been playing with the recently released Foursquare self-service for managers tool to create and monitor campaigns for your venue. Before this, it was a manual process where the special would need to be submitted to the Foursquare team and you would wait anywhere between 3-13 days for it to be approved and go live. Now, once you select the details and the way a special is unlocked and hit confirm, the campaign is live automatically and you can start seeing it when you refresh your Foursquare app on your smartphones.
I played with this feature over the weekend whilst in Brisbane for a trade campaign which mainly targeted 12-20 year olds who were interested in the celebration of popular culture. I noticed a lot of holes in the learnings I picked up, including the number of people who had access to smartphones at the event, Foursquare’s actual penetration in the Australian market as well as the expectations of how one should redeem the special.
As a result of this, I compiled the following key things I think require consideration when planning around a strategy requiring Foursquare:
  • Reach: Australia is still an extremely young market for Foursquare, and an early adopter approach will most likely not garner the results you desire. It’s important to understand whether the audience is savvy enough to not just understand it, but actually have it installed and actively use it. There are still a lot of barriers for Foursquare to be more user-friendly. At the event which attracted almost 10,000 people, only under 50 check-ins were collected, which brings to question: Are your customers, or your potential customers, even on Foursquare?
  • Promoting Foursquare: In an age where Facebook’s organic virality can surface a brand online, Foursquare is still in its early stages which still requires above the line support to assist the special deals function. So it shouldn’t be viewed as a means to promote, but as a tool as part of another more holistic promotion. This can include something as simple as flyers to storefront posters promoting the special.


  • Campaign Special Type: Each of the types of specials available work in different ways and will benefit in different ways. For example, the Swarm special will encourage check-ins in the hope to get the venue trending, the Friends special will encourage more referrals and organic promotions, whilst the check-in special is the basic starter one. In our instance, the Flash special was one of the best choices given the nature of short timeframe of trade (only across 3 days to thousands of people). 
  • Post-Special-Unlock: The customer has now unlocked the special, what do you or your staff do next? Will it simply be honoured or are there steps required to ensure it is controlled; how will you track that special has been redeemed by the customer verses being simply unlocked (which is trackable through Foursquare)? Will there be further developments on Foursquare’s end to provide support for this? This is currently a bit of a grey area.

There are more questions that need to be answered beyond just “adding Foursquare” to your geolocation strategy plan, and I guess these are just some of them.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s