For my social media project I decided to get involved with Foursquare. For those of you who aren't familiar with Foursquare, it is a mobile application that was created as a tool to explore cities. According to the Foursquare website, it was created to be used as a friend-finder, a social city guide and a game that challenges users to experience new things, and rewards them for doing so. Foursquare lets users "check-in" to a place when they're there, tell friends where they are and track the history of where they've been and who they've been there with. If you've checked into a place the most amount of times within a 60 day period you will be crowned mayor and could be offered special discounts from the business for being the mayor.
As a business owner, you can engage Foursquare to engage customers with discounts and prizes when they check into your business. You can offer mayor specials (offered to the person who has checked in the most to your location within the past 60 days), check-in specials (offered to anyone that checks into your location), and frequency based specials (offered to people after they check in x amount of times).
I began my project by creating an account and uploaded my picture. They tell you that you can't become a "mayor" unless you have a photo uploaded. Then I downloaded the Foursquare application to my blackberry and began checking into the businesses that I visited. After every check-in you receive points and badges based on different criteria, I received a mayorship for Paninos, however they did not offer any mayor special. I also received an adventurer badge which was awarded for checking into 10 different venues. I found that it was hard for me to remember to check into places on a regular basis. Since this is still a fairly new thing there are not a lot of businesses that are actively participating by offering specials.
Since it is free to participate, I believe all retail businesses should be participating because it is a great way to reward your loyal customers. In addition, it is a great way to do geographic marketing. I noticed that when you check into a location if there is a business offering a discount in the area an icon will appear in the corner saying there is a deal in the area and you can click on it to find out details.
Another aspect of Foursquare is that you can link it to your Facebook and/or Twitter accounts. I didn't link it to my Facebook account however because I'm not sure how I feel about everyone knowing where I am all the time, it is a safety issue in my eyes. You can also write feedback on your experiences and post them so that your friends can view them.
Overall my experience with Foursquare was good, I just wish more businesses were participating, if there were I would probably continue participating on a regular basis.
If you would like to get involved check out Foursquare at http://foursquare.com/.