How to use Foursquare to build a hyper-local brand

Foursquare is rocketing up the social media popularity chart. It’s hyper-local social networking that lets you share insider info on your favourite hangouts.  In their words:

Foursquare aims to encourage people to explore their neighborhoods and then reward people for doing so. We do this by combining our friend-finder and social city guide elements with game mechanics – our users earn points, win mayorships and unlock badges for trying new places and revisiting old favorites.

The service allows you to check into a location – coffee shop, restaurant, movie cinema – using your GPS coordinates. That lets your friends know where you are and what you’re up to. It’s a great way to meet new friends who enjoy the same places.

Foursquare users are encouraged to share brief tips about the places they visit. These experiences are then shared with others who check-in to the same place.  For example, if I leave a tip about a special blend of coffee at The Imp, the next time you checked-in there Foursquare would pop up a notification telling you that I suggested you try The Imp’s special blend coffee.

Here’s a few tips for agents wanting to get the most out of the service.

Get an iPhone and download the Foursquare app

Foursquare works brilliantly on the iPhone and on Android powered mobile devices. It’s a two-second operation to get working on the iPhone and it works like a charm.

Link your Foursquare, Twitter and Facebook accounts

It’s not often I recommend linking social media services but this is one exception. Once your accounts are linked when you check in on Foursquare your Facebook and Twitter status will be updated automatically (you can turn this off if you want to do a private checkin).

Add your own business location to Foursquare

Provide clients who check-in to your location regularly with loyalty rewards. Offer incentives for people to write tips that mention you by name e.g. “Go to Jones Realty and ask for Sally Jones. She knows Jonesville like the back of her hand.” It’s a great way to generate word-of-mouth referrals.

Check-in to a local coffee lounge

Invite your friends to catch up for an early morning coffee. Be spontaneous.

Introduce it to local businesses

The more people who check into a location the more tips it generates. Suggest they offer discounts or special offers to Foursquare users who write tips about their business or who become the Mayor of their business. Offer to show them how it works and how they can make sales from using the service. Become their social software go-to person. Help them out by introducing their business to your Facebook and Twitter network.

Check-in when you’re doing a home open

Let your friends on Foursquare, Facebook and Twitter know you’re out working hard. Your Foursquare checkin provides a map to your location so friends in the area can stop by for a chat.

Advertise that the property is open for review on Foursquare

Mention in your web advertising that you’ve added the property location to Foursquare. Invite home open visitors to write a review. Their review will be available to other Foursquare users.

Ask your colleagues to check-in when they show the property

Get them to add a brief review while they’re at the property on an agent caravan or when showing buyers.

Have you come across any other ways to use Foursquare?


This article was originally posted as How to Become a Local Legend Using Foursquare on The Real Estate Marketing Maven.

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About Peter Fletcher

Peter started his real estate career in Kalgoorlie in 1985. After moving to Perth in 1989 he bought into a business that became a successful organisation at the forefront of technology. In 2001 Peter graduated with a Master of Business Administration from Edith Cowan University then, in 2005, rode his bike from Kalgoorlie to Perth

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6 Responses to How to use Foursquare to build a hyper-local brand

  1. Scott February 3, 2010 at 7:31 am #

    As a regular Foursquare user, I feel I need to comment on a few points you have made in this post.

    Firstly, I would recommend you either DO NOT link your Foursquare account to Twitter/facebook, or learn how to turn off the notifications first thing.
    Constant Foursquare (4SQ) updates on twitter are very annoying things to encounter in a tweetstream and your followers will normally either quickly tell you this, or just unfollow you.

    Secondly, I STRONGLY recommend you do NOT use 4SQ to show you are at open houses, etc.
    4SQ is for tagging and promoting Businesses and public locations, not private residences.
    Private homes regularly get removed by 4SQ admins, as they are not wanted in the database. They are actually against their Terms.

    There are many security issues around registering private addresses in the 4SQ database, such as prompting unwanted visitors or even enabling criminal types to find out when a location is vacant.
    (If someone follows you, they can tell when you are not at home, or have left an open house, when you next check in at a different location).

    4SQ is great when used correctly, and is a fantastic new marketing tool for Businesses.
    Please use common sense when using it, however and try to add useful locations and information.

  2. Peter Fletcher February 3, 2010 at 10:39 am #

    Scott,

    Thanks for your comment. Prior to posting this article I read Foursquare’s Terms of Use and could find nothing that prohibited the use of the service in the manner suggested in the article. If I’ve missed something please post a follow up comment with a link and I would be more than happy to post a retraction.

    In terms of privacy issues my view is that using Foursquare in this way is only marginally different to what’s already in the public domain on the web. When an agent advertises a property for public inspection the address is prominently displayed both in press ads and the Internet. Visitors are able, with or without the use of Foursquare, and without requesting permission of the agent or seller to write a web-based review. This could be done via Twitter, Facebook or their own blog.

    Having said that I agree that security is paramount and I recommend agents consider all of the potential risks involved with the adoption of new technologies.

  3. Trish van Tussenbroek February 3, 2010 at 3:18 pm #

    One of the fantastic things that agents are doing in the states with Foursquare is actually adding open homes as “tips/ to do” at local businesses rather than adding each property as a place on Foursquare.

    This way, as a consumer, when you check into your favourite cafe, it pops up and says something to the effect of “check out the open home at x address” and the person who added it (IE You as the agent). You would however need to be sure that you were able to remove the tip/ to do once the property is sold.

    I completely agree with Scott, the twitter and Faceboook feeds probably need to be turned off. As a user of both, my followers on Twitter were annoyed pretty quickly and my friends on Facebook saw it as a new and improved way of stalking! 🙂

  4. Nick February 4, 2010 at 7:17 am #

    FourSquare isnt aimed at real estate agents at all so the overall benefit would be very minimal. :s

    If your a restaurant then sure, but a real estate agent? Seriously?

    Yes I am a bit of a social networking cynic. :p

  5. Hannah March 23, 2010 at 4:06 am #

    I can imagine all the great possibilities for this service (from a brand perspective). It’s early days at the moment and some brands (individuals even) are tentative in stepping into this space and just waiting to see what others can come up with. It’s no wonder but I think that rolling hype, location based mobile services and established social networks like Twitter and Facebook together I think 4s can go places

    I think that as long as you have a creative idea, you have an idea about the ‘general’ practice of social networking (for brands) and you

  6. TheGreenTreeWay April 23, 2011 at 9:22 pm #

    Hi we are a new recently launched Website that allows you to list your listings for FREE. Visit http://TheGreentreeway.com/HowTo and find out how to list your FSBO or Realtor Listing For Free. Also have a low cost Lead Generator available as well.

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