Foursquare now has 1/2 million business users

The social location network, Foursquare, announced that besides surpassing 10 million members, they now have 500,000 businesses using their Check-in offers. Whilst Foursquare is still niche  (compare 1o million members with Facebook’s 750 million), they are combating stiff competition from Facebook’s Places/Deals by creating an excellent, free, brand platform. One interesting example cited in their blog is from Radisson Hotels in the UK who are using the Check-In to offer their customers an additional 2 hours before check-out. It shows that brand offers can be much more than discounts for free cups of coffee.


Gowalla Promotes Farmers’ Markets

Whilst their main SoLo competitor, Foursquare is doing a good job at connecting with brands, Gowalla is working with  have taken a socially responsible approach to their social network. Make Time for Change is an initiative supported by Fridgidaire and organic food enthusiast, Jennifer Garner. Users are encouraged to share information and tips about local farmers markets. In return, for each tip, Fridgidaire will donate $1 to Save The Children’s CHANGE campaign to provide nutritional food to African Children.

Social Location campaigns to drive for social responsibility and brand charity donations have been seen previously in Foursquare (CNN’s Healthy Eating Badge) and Facebook Places (Argos’ Teenage Cancer Trust donations).

More here on the Gowalla/Fridgidaire campaign

Facebook Places vs Foursquare Check-Ins

What’s more popular, Facebook Places or Foursquare? WSJ published some data on Foursquare’s check-ins last week, but you would expect Facebook’s Places to be far bigger, given that they have 100 times the users of Foursquare. We don’t know for sure how many people are checking in on each network, but this comparison from Fastcompany on some of the top Facebook check-ins, shows how Foursquare compares with the same venues. Hardly surprisingly Facebook leads, especially at Facebook HQ:

Logan Airport (Boston)
Facebook: 84,000 check-ins
Foursquare: 66,908 check-ins

Cowboys Stadium (Arlington, Texas)
Facebook: 50,000
Foursquare: 20,800

Westfield Shopping Mall (London)
Facebook: 38,000
Foursquare: 11,300

Hotel Piazza di Spagna (Rome)
Facebook: 6,000
Foursquare: 1

Caesar’s Palace (Las Vegas)
Facebook: 33,000
Foursquare: 29,300

Interestingly though, apart from Hotel Piazza di Spagna in Rome, the Foursquare check-ins are not that far behind their Facebook counterpart. Although many observers thought that Places could be the end of Foursquare, it has instead seen them almost double their user base since Facebook launched their offering to 10 million users. Foursquare has the gamifaction element – the chance to win badges and that all important Mayor – that Facebook lacks. Whilst some companies beginning to work with Places and Deals, Foursquare are particularly brand friendly with some good campaigns under their belt.

A Week on Foursquare: WSJ Looks at the Data

An interesting set of sets has appeared from the Wall Street Journal who looked at a week’s worth of check-ins on Foursquare in February. Comparing two of the social location’s most popular cities, New York and San Francisco, it reveals some interesting (but not totally unsurprising) stats:

  • Out of 2 million+ venues, 44.5% had just one check-in
  • 2,500 venues had 100 or more check-ins
  • 61% of the check-ins were from men
  • Men were more likely to check-in to transport venues, whereas women veered towards beauty and health venues (such as doctors’ surgeries)
  • The most check-ins – over 13,000 – wasn’t a venue at all but Snowpocalypse, celebrating the heavy snow fall that week

View the complete figures from WSJ here

Ten brands that are using the Foursquare check-in

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.

Foursquare uses redemptions codes at the Super Bowl

The launch of Facebook Deals saw a flurry of brands tipping their toe in the location marketing waters. Many brands have tried check in offers on Foursquare, and whilst the likes of Dommino’s and McDonalds have reported a good response, there seems to have been no real measure of it. The questions still remain: how many more people, and how mandy more sales can a check-in offer generate?

Foursquare is addressing this, by working with the NFL on the forthcoming Superbowl. They have created a Super Bowl Sunday badge, and fans checking in will be given a code that they can redem it for a 20% discount at the NFL online shop. Clearly, one campaign will not be enough to give true figures, but when it comes to marketing response we are generally looking at a range of ROI or uplift. Foursquare say this is an experiment and they are not getting any revenue from it – looks like their revenue model has still not been found!

Facebook Deals launches in Europe

Facebook Deals, similar to Foursqaure’s Check-In Offers, launches in Europe from Monday 31st Jan. One of the first up is Argos, who are using it for charity donations. The first 10,000 people to check in through Facebook Places will see £1 each being donated to the Teenage Cancer Trust. With 1/3rd of the company’s sales coming through their website, and 60,000 plus fans on Facebook, it looks like Argos will find their 10,000 check-in’s pretty quickly.

Whilst the Argos deal is the most high profile, other brands including Debenhams, O2, Alton Towers and Mazda are also taking iniatives. YoSushi! who are offering 5 free plates and a drink for those checking in to selected restaurants. At a time when retail sales are taking a plunge in the UK, Facebook Deals may help drive some business back to the high street.