The Time for Foursquare Marketing Is… Now.

Posted: July 27, 2010 in Uncategorized
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It’s an interesting question: When should I start utilizing emerging social media networks? The answer for the average brand/company is probably “later,” but for those companies who are really looking to take their social media strategies to the next level, it’s important to get in early and stay there for the duration. Sure, you can’t exactly be a major part of every possible up-and-comer in the social networking world, but you should at least be focused on the ones that make the most sense for your business. In the restaurant and retail world, this means Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Foursquare. Let’s think about Twitter for a second. If HP was the first to utilize Twitter, Dell wouldn’t be the big dog of personal computer sales in the Twitterverse. If Kroger, SuperValu or Costco had dove into Twitter headfirst, Whole Foods wouldn’t be kicking everyone’s butt in the Twittersphere. If you’re heady enough to get in before anything goes mainstream, you typically have a huge edge/advantage over your competition. It’s no different with Foursquare. Get in early or play catch-up with your competitors who were first to embrace location-based services!

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The Time for Foursquare Marketing Is… Later?

While it’s always a good idea to look forward and broaden your marketing mix when it comes to technology, a new study shows that expecting a huge, at-scale ROI from such cutting-edge location-based services as Foursquare might be a bit premature.

Research given to us today by marketing and tech firm Forrester shows that only a tiny stratum of the population is consistently using Foursquare (Foursquare). Only 4% of the adult, Internet (Internet)-using population has used any kind of location-based service, and just 1% of all adults check into a location at least once a week.

By contrast, more than 11% of online adults have used Twitter, and an estimated 28% of all Internet users have signed up for Facebook (Facebook).

But if you keep in mind that Foursquare isn’t yet a mass medium, you can plan to target your marketing efforts much better and still see the benefits of using this service and others like it as an advertising and marketing channel. And you’ll get the added benefit of being an experienced location-based marketing pro when services like this take off for the general population.

For example, the Forrester report noted, Starbucks saw some great things with its Foursquare program: “Starbucks, by connecting its existing loyalty program to a startup LBSN, got not only great press initially but also the opportunity to test an emerging technology. Adventurous marketers like Starbucks see a consumer market of early adopters that will hopefully grow into a new and active audience.”

Forrester also found that location-based service (LBS) users are likely to be 19- to 35-year-old, college-educated males who are influential among their friends and family. These users generally do a lot of mobile-based web research when considering making a purchase, from a refrigerator or a car to a movie ticket or dinner at a restaurant. Their average household income is right around the six-figure mark — around $20,000 higher than consumers who don’t use an LBS.

Because of the place-based nature of LBSs, people who use them are extremely connected to the web and Internet and social applications via their mobile devices. Forrester’s research shows these users are also big on using their mobile devices to find directions, look up information about local businesses and read or submit local business reviews on sites such as Yelp (Yelp).

Getting intelligence on these kinds of consumers and testing multiple small-scale LBS campaigns is the best way to prepare for successful location-based marketing efforts in the future — like, perhaps, when Facebook launches its location service in the near future and this geeks-only paradigm is suddenly brought to an international scale.



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