Foursquare has around 6 million users. Tiny when compared to Facebook or Twitter, but what Foursquare has been able to do is show the potential of social location. What’s more there are a number of brands who have taken up the ‘SoLo’ gauntlet. Hardly surprisingly the first major brand in on Foursquare were Starbucks, who offered a now-standard offer to 4Sq Mayors. McDonalds tested the SoLo offer with their check-in day in 2010. They gave a number of prizes in the form of $5 and $10 gift cards for people to check-in. Although they measured ROI, they saw check-ins rise by 33%. GAP have created a number of Foursquare check-in offers. They started with a 30% discount on items during a holiday campaign in the US. Additionally the clothing company also donated a $1 to their supported charity for each check-in. A slightly more interesting twist is Tasti-Dlite (only the Americans could come up with a name like that) who have linked Foursquare check-ins to their customer loyalty programme.
So, the principle of check-in to a retail outlet and get a discount is clearly an obvious and promising one for brands. What about some more interesting examples of how the Foursquare check-in has been used? Ironically, given the prevelance of fast food and coffee shop offers, CNN’s promotion of the Healthy Eater badge showed how it can be used for a more beneficial purpose. The History Channel worked with Foursquare by creating the History Badge. Initially they wanted to generate more interest for London’s historic sites. In fact a number of media brands including Bravo, Zagat and MTV have all made good use of Foursquare. Although the Super Bowl is a venue-based event, this year they used the Foursquare check-in to provide vouchers to redeem a discount at the NFL shop online.
I have often said that Foursquare isn’t really social media, but actually the game of winning Mayor. Coke in Australia tapped into that gaming element with their Fairy Machine. Foursquare users could check-in to vending machines around Sydney with the chance of receiving a winning bottle of Coke through the dispenser. The gaming element of Foursquare was used to even greater effect by Jimmy Choo who took an imaginative approach by creating a treasure hunt to win a pair of sneakers. Check-ins were to some of London’s cooler haunts. Another great example of the creative use of SoLo is Nike (where are they not creative?). OK, so they used Facebook Places, but their Sneak and Destroy Burrito trucks are a great example of getting everyone talking through SoLo.
Of all the FourSquare campaigns, the one that showed how brands can really do it, is the Dutch airline, KLM. Their KLM Surprises, offered a gifts to the airline’s travellers who checked-in on Foursquare. They wanted to help relieve the boredom of waiting for a flight with a bit of fun. They didn’t tell customers the gifts were available, they just offered them. Even better they used their Twitter and Facebook information to make the gifts as relevant as possible. One woman passenger had a photo of herself in sports gear so they gave her a Nike running watch. Another passenger who used his iPad to check-in was given an itunes voucher. Brilliant. What KLM have shown is that brand engagement in SoLo doesn’t just have to be about giving discounts or free coffees. It’s about making customers feel good about buying from your brand.