Local Search

Foursquare – A Marketing Channel Not A Campaign

It was interesting to see this question (below) asked as a comment to a recent article on Foursquare that I was reading.

“I need to know my ROI on implementing another piece of social media? (referring to Foursquare as “another piece of social media.”

There are several things about it that I would like to rip apart, but the kinder, more gentle, side of me will just “address” them (and try to educate), because its obvious some educating needs to happen. I mean, it may not even really be their fault for calling it this, they were probably just listening to another social media guru out there (who led them astray).

With all that said, the big standout, the thing that made me want to forehead slap myself was calling Foursquare “another piece of social media” (in regards to social campaigns). Let me make it very clear, if your approach with with Foursquare is “another piece of social media” … you will fail. Foursquare is a marketing channel, like, YelpGoWalla or Angies ListNOT “another place to implement a social media campaign”. You need to spend some time figuring out the best ways your business can benefit from specific social media networks, and in this case (Foursquare) it’s “location based marketing”. The best way to do this, is to research and understand what the social network is all about. Dig in, see how other businesses are using it, check out their apps, get in, sign up and start checking in. See what your competitors are doing. There is no better way to learn then by getting your hands dirty (so to speak). There are many awesome posts out there explaining what Foursquare is, and a quick Google search will educate you, but simply put its a location check in service/game. People check into your business, add tips etc. etc. etc. blah blah blah!

I really do not want to get into explaining how Foursquare works, but rather help you understand that your focus should be creating a strategy for how to use it.  I want to help you understand that you are not trying to create “content” that you hope will “go viral” . This is one of the biggest myths I see businesses falling into that do not understand social media. They take the “another social media” approach (and think they have to create the next amazing video to go viral on You Tube, or info graphic to make the front page of Digg), rather than to take a step back and understand what the network is about, and figure out how to grow their business with them.

Take the Foursquare survey that Will Scott and I conducted for an SMX Advanced presentation a month or so ago:  (this chart clearly shows that businesses are not understanding Foursquare and that they need our help.)

foursquare 02 Foursquare   A Marketing Channel Not A Campaign

I polled the businesses I personally talk to who are using Foursquare and most agree that it (Foursquare) is bringing people into their business, yet only 10% would be willing to pay for it (see graph below). Again, this tells me that there needs to be some educating about all the new marketing channels that are out there these days (especially in social media).

foursquare 01 Foursquare   A Marketing Channel Not A Campaign

The big take-away here is that we (as an industry) need to help businesses understand that not all social media is created equally.  You can’t take the same approach with all networks.  You must understand that something you create for one network, may not fit with another.  Once businesses realize that there are different marketing channels, and each channel needs to have its own unique approach, we (marketers and biz owners) are going to have so much more success and WILL see that ROI on “social media” they are so desperately seeking!

 Foursquare   A Marketing Channel Not A Campaign
Matt Siltala, owner of Avalaunch Media, shares his love and passion for SEO and all things social on his Internet marketing blog.

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5 thoughts on “Foursquare – A Marketing Channel Not A Campaign

  1. I completely agree with you that so many people don’t understand the possibilities of Foursquare. Did the charts have to be so big and the key be so small thought!

  2. Mat, you raise an important distinction between local marketing opportunities and the more general, national/global PR engendered by other social media outlets.

    However, it is important to recognize that the cost of any marketing opportunity is really three-fold: the media expense, the time and energy involved in participating smartly, and the opportunity cost associated with devoting time to project A instead of project B.

    For most marketers, there is no shortage of opportunities to chase, the key question is which will have the ROI and volume necessary to cover all three of those costs. For some businesses Foursquare might make the cut, for others it might not.

    1. George – you got the exact point of my post “For some businesses Foursquare might make the cut, for others it might not.” This really is what I was getting at – not everything is a campaign and not every social network works for everyone! Thanks for the comment!

      1. Yes, and this means that after understanding the use of a particular site businesses should have a strategy going in and set standards on ROI so that after some time they can make a decision whether it makes the cut for them or not. Otherwise, if they have no expectations on their ROI they won't know wether it makes the cut or not.