With over a million users and growing, Foursquare has quickly become one of the new darlings of the social media stage. The allure of mayorship and offbeat merit badges initially provided user stickiness; however for some consumers those novelties may be wearing thin (several valid reasons listed here in a recent post by friend and industry colleague, Jeff Hilimire). Local businesses and larger brands such as Starbucks have jumped on board hoping to build greater one-to-one connection with its user base. But, are leader boards and status-driven coupons incentives enough to sustain or even scale location-based social networking and truly impact customer inspiration, acquisition and loyalty long-term?
Given the continued adoption of smart phones and other mobile devices, maturing geo-location and augmented reality capabilities and the dawn of 4G, I think location-based social networking and subsequent location-based marketing are inevitable. In today’s social web, entertainment may get you noticed, but its proven utility that sticks. Thus, Foursquare needs to raise their utility game in order to succeed with both consumers and brands in the coming year:
3 Ways to Create Stickier Users1. More Insider Tips – Since moving to
2. More Meaningful Badges – You never know which check-in will unlock a new Foursquare badge. While the surprise of a new badge can be fun, that too starts to fade quickly without purpose and deeper meaning. I think there are some great opportunities to evolve this feature within location-based networking and achieve more of a two-way street between the user and the location such as:
- unlocking a new set of privileges and experiences that non-badge earners do not have access to (how can I move up in the Foursquare world?)
- collecting and applying a collection of badges towards a bigger ticket reward
- earning multiple affinity-based badges along a particular area of interest (culinary, wine, theatre, etc)
- enabling the location to earn specific badges too based on the numbers, types, time of day, day of week users check-in and the inside tips they leave (Yelpitize or Zagatize the locations so to speak)
3. More Filtering Options – As the amount of check-ins and tips grow, users will require more options for searching and sorting out locations beyond a general or favorite list of places and friends nearby or other cities choices today. How about being able to find places nearby that are pet-friendly, an entrepreneur zone or good for 1-2 person meetings? Give me the ability to filter places and/or friends by category, user rating or badges.
3 Ways to Create Stickier Brands
1. Richer User Profiles – In order to provide even more contextually relevant content and rewards, brand must know more about the users than what Foursquare currently requires. More meaningful badges will help, but also acquire info on the users through graduated use (after a certain number of badges achieved, offer to show other hidden or previously undisclosed locations). Of course, the user would always retain the option to keep details of their profile information hidden from public display.
2. White Label Application – Location-based platforms offer a rich environment for loyalty member program activation. Some programs could be offered within the larger public location-based space and others could take place in private versions that only members of specific loyalty programs can access. This allows the brand to create more visibility and personality within a closed, protected environment.
3. Talk Back Live – Currently, Foursquare users can shout out to their friends and locations through check-in, but brands do not have a reciprocal way of talking back to their fan base except through special offers. One way to address this would be for Foursquare to send an auto Direct Message (DM) notification to the location’s Twitter or Facebook persona of users who check-in and check-out, leave comments, etc. This would give brands a means to say thank you, ask questions and interact with the person who just patronized their business. It would be the breadcrumb for the brand to follow-up and invite the user to begin a dialogue and ultimately a relationship.
Foursquare and its other location based networks offer unique opportunities to improve and enhance brand and customer relationships. Time will tell whether those relationships take place here, or within larger community platforms like Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. Guess we’ll have to keep checking in to find out J