There is a new social media site in town and local businesses as well as Knoxvillians might want to give it a look. FourSquare.com, which went active last March, was originally only open to certain cities around the country. Just a couple of weeks ago though, the site opened itself up to the world and Knoxville is already testing the waters. So what is it, and how can you or your business take advantage of it?
Basically foursquare is a location-based social network. Users load an app on their iPhones, Androids, or other phones. When they visit somewhere like a local restaurant or park, they “check-in” which then announces their presence at the location (and can then be broadcast on your twitter and Facebook profiles).
Now, here’s the hook.
With the app, you can search for locations near you that other people are talking about and see tips they’ve left like “be sure to try the Bang Bang Shrimp at BoneFish in Bearden”. At the most basic level, Foursquare is a centralized forum for local consumers to tell others about good places to eat, shop, and enjoy. The idea for businesses is that your location could go “viral—meaning suddenly a lot of people could be coming through your doors because of the buzz being generated online. Pretty neat idea.
Because businesses want people coming through their doors a lot, business owners incentivize foursquare users for frequenting their stores. Users get points for checking in and doing various activities, and they get badges (think Farmville awards) for various accomplishments. The top foursquare users who visit any given location have the chance to be “mayor” of that spot. The idea is that businesses would offer loyalty rewards to mayors like free or discounted products. The natural extension for business owners is that it would generate competition among Fousquare users to earn discounts and drive them to participating stores and restaurants. Knoxville’s Foursquare community is young but growing. As a matter of fact, if you’re heading to the Healthy Living Expo at the Knoxville Convention Center, check-in to foursquare when you get there and you’ll get $2 off the admission price at the door!
Obviously with technology like this there are certain security concerns. Linking this to your various Twitter and Facebook accounts, while contributing to the “viral-ness” of the site, also subsequently could open you up to cyberstalking. Users should definitely take a step back and consider just how integrated they want this in their digital lives and how much information they want to be broadcasting before taking part.
Till next time!
– Dan Thompson