Foursquare: The Loyalty Program You’re Not Using

There has been a lot of discussions lately about Pinterest and its meteoric rise to fame, Facebook and the Timeline, Twitter, and LinkedIn.  But, no-one ever talks about Foursquare, and how it could be used for your business.

Case in point:  I presented to a networking group on Facebook pages recently, and at the end, after everyone had left, the owner of the restaurant approached me, complimented me on the presentation, and proceeded to ask how I could help him.  We spoke of Facebook (he isn’t there), we spoke of Twitter (he isn’t there), we spoke of mobile text marketing (not for him?), and we spoke of Foursquare.

But it was his response to my Foursquare questions that got me thinking.  When I mentioned it, his immediate response was, “I tried it, and it doesn’t work.”  My initial response was one of astonishment.  Really.  It doesn’t work.  This surprised me.  It surprised me for the following reasons:

  1. There are over 10 million users
  2. Checking in at local businesses over 4.7 million times
  3. No cost-of-entry for the loyalty program

So, I continued the conversation by asking basic questions regarding his use of Foursquare, including how he advertised it (a sign on the door), what he offered his clients for checking-in and being the Mayor (nothing).

So, it didn’t work because there was no reason for it to work.  There was no incentive.  There was no offer.  He didn’t give any of his already loyal customers a reason to share that they were there.  And, after all, isn’t that the reason we want them checking in?  To share with their friends where they are eating?  To share their experience?

So, let’s re-evaluate his Foursquare efforts, and actually use it as a loyalty program:

  1. Every check-in gets a free soda
  2. Every 5 check-in’s gets $5.00 off their bill
  3. The mayor gets a free appetizer

But, in order for this program to be very effective, it needs to be coupled with other advertising.  A Facebook page needs to remind people to check-in.  Their current print-ads need to remind their customers that there are offers available on Foursquare.  A sign on the door needs to remind people to check-in.  No marketing can occur in a vacuum.

And, I know that it works.  I know it works because I go out of my way to visit the Yogurt Crazy 10 miles from my home, simply because they offer me a $5.00 discount after 5 check-ins.

And because American Express gave me $10.00 off my bill at a local hamburger restaurant.

Have you used Foursquare as a loyalty program?  How has it worked for you?  Let me know in the comments.


Craig E. Yaris is the owner of EsquireTech Solutions, which helps small business get found on the social web, whether through Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, he can both teach you the effective use of any social network or act as your social media manager, enabling you to reach your clients where they are and when they want to hear from you.  He can teach your organization the social media best practices that can help you use the tools of today to cost-effectively increase your bottom line.  EsquireTech Solutions brings the social web to your business.  Visit EsquireTech Solutions or call 516-495-9107.


Picture courtesy of Foursquare



  1. Craig, This is such a coincidence. I probably have not looked at my foursquare account in months. I am one of the guilty. I have not been using it.

    For some reason I decided to check it out. I rarely hear about it so I wasn’t sure if anyone uses it anymore. In addition, I don’t like the feeling of ‘having a dog tag’ on me where ever I go.

    But as I have become more social on social media and more comfortable with social media, I am taking another look at some programs/apps I signed up for when I first started.

    So I am all ears for foursquare. Your timing is excellent. By the way, I tried to become friends with you on it but could not figure it out. Do you give lessons?

  2. Thanks for the comment, Alison. I believe that we are now friends on Foursquare.

    Of course I would be happy to show you how to effectively use Foursquare.

    I think it will become more important for small business users to connect with their customers as more people are accepting of it.

    Thanks, again!

  3. good stuff, thanks.

  4. Thanks for this! We’ve been considering this type of incentive program for the members of our coworking space and this sounds like something that would be fantastic for everyone!

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