Business on Foursquare

“Why should I or my business be on Foursquare?” —It’s a good question that I hear all the time. Free services can require some hefty investment of time to get them up and running. The skepticism is understandable. It seems that many people have barely even heard of Foursquare, which leaves a lot of local business owners wondering what Foursquare is and how it even works; let’s start with what Foursquare is:

What is Foursquare?

Foursquare is a free app that helps you and your friends make the most of where you are. When you’re out and about, use Foursquare to share and save the places you visit. And, when you’re looking for inspiration for what to do next, we’ll give you personalized recommendations and deals based on where you, your friends, and people with your tastes have been.”—

In a nutshell, it’s an app (available for iPhones, Android, Windows, and BlackBerry devices) that allows a user to “check in” to a specific location, search for businesses, and explore the area around them. It’s useful and fun for individuals but even more powerful for businesses.

Consumers have embraced social media for years (how many people do you know who don’t have a Facebook account?), but there’s another trend in town: we’re returning to the concept of supporting our communities. People everywhere are seeking ways to support local business, and they’re using social media to do it. Foursquare puts your business right in the middle of these two important trends, at the crux of everywhere and right here.

When looking for a place to grab a quick lunch, Foursquare users turn to the Explore section. Foursquare Explore provides suggestions based on where they—and their friends—have already been, and shows what others have to say about the business. Is the soup surprisingly good? Are the prices unbeatable? Users leave tips for others and save tips they find helpful.

For businesses, this is huge opportunity and it doesn’t cost a thing. With over 10 million active monthly users, Foursquare is the de facto hyper-local social network, ranked behind only Facebook as the leading social networks in the country. Take a look at AdWeek’s report for details on the Foursquare audience and what it means for businesses. Additionally, the data that Foursquare provides your business is valuable. You can use check-ins to measure foot traffic in your store, your area, or even a competitor’s store giving you a window into where your customers are and where they like to go.

A good businessperson knows that customers are the lifeblood of their venture; they’re why you’re in business in the first place! Foursquare provides your business with demographic information on your best customers, giving you rich insights on the people you’re serving. Foursquare tips also provides a channel for your customers to let you know what you’re doing right and what you may need to work on. “The service is a little slow” is an opportunity for both improvement and engagement with your customers. If someone says something that is out of line, Foursquare businesses have ways of managing that.

One last thing about Foursquare is the inherent share-ability. Many users connect their Foursquare account to both Facebook and Twitter to instantly show off their favorite places. This effortless sharing expands your businesses audience to individuals you wouldn’t have been able to reach otherwise, with the added benefit of costing you nothing and carrying the weight of a friend’s recommendation. Social referrals are important, with 90% of people believing recommendations from friends. It’s word of mouth, faster than ever before.

If you’d like to learn more about how Foursquare can help you, come say hi at 323 Creative Group. Our mission is to help your venture succeed by providing deep, meaningful connections to the local community. We’re always up for a friendly chat!


Pop Culture Engineering

As media professionals, both current and future, we are facing a huge shift. With all the convergence between advertising, public relations, and this new realm of social media, the differentiation between the fields if blurring. Add to that the recent trend of “infotainment” and you can find yourself seriously confused about your duties and responsibilities. The Miami Ad School has the right idea when they call themselves “the school of pop culture engineering.” The industry at large would do well to take a cue from that title. It nicely summarizes not only what advertising does, but also public relations and creative consulting firms. Writers for print and TV—and any medium, for that matter—fit this description as well. Whether journalists or novelists, it fits.

We—regardless of our capacity or specialization—have a cultural effect every time we open our mouths or sit down to write. We influence the popular culture in enormous, and often invisible ways. A PR campaign can be the difference between one president or another. A single tagline can inspire generations of athletes. A magazine cover can change (one subtlety at a time) perceptions of beauty. The right news story can cause a powerful man crumble. As the media, we have tremendous power, and calling ourselves “advertisers” or “public relations specialists” or “journalists” doesn’t do credit to the gravity of our work. We literally manipulate popular opinion by just doing our jobs every day. Whether we do it for good or for evil, passion or profit, we still do it. We are, in fact, engineering the popular culture.

That thought may make some uncomfortable. But why? A civil engineer manipulates traffic flow. A structural engineer manipulates steel and cement. Some use that for good and others do not. The engineer planning roads can do enormous good by creating a safe, environmentally responsible city that is both accessible to emergency vehicles and conducive to walking. That same engineer can, with ill intentions, do just as much bad if given a reason (or out of pure thoughtlessness or innocent lack of skill).

In media it is the same. We must strive to strive for ethics (the same ethics in advertising and in journalism) and integrity (the same integrity in our professional lives as in our personal lives) as well as the pursuit and refinement of skill. The pen is indeed mightier than the sword, and our proverbial pens must be not only sharp and skillfully used, but morally directed. Ethics are not just an issue of the media, nor are we the only ones who are responsible for the public well-being. We are the same as any other engineers. Perhaps we should acknowledge that when referring to our respective professions.