Friday, April 16, 2010

Do You Know About Foursquare?

Posted By Amanda Walsh

According to Burrellesluce's Fresh Ideas blog, social location-based networks like Foursquare, Yelp and Gowalla are the latest tools in public relations and marketing. These emerging social networks are driven by GPS-enabled smartphones and applications that allow "Geotagging.” Conrad Hall over at Social Media Examiner, explains that "geotagging takes advantage of the GPS technology that’s built into smartphones to build community at the street level instead of just at a global level." Lately, I've been seeing a lot of news about the interactive Web site, Foursquare, so I decided to take a closer look at this location-based social media network.

The introduction video on Foursquare's Web site explains users need only a smartphone and the Foursquare application to begin. After getting these simple tools, the next step is to take to the streets to discover new businesses, restaurants and stores in your city. Later you can send messages from these locations using the application and share what you’re doing. It is easy to find where fellow Foursquare friends are hanging out, too!

Foursquare also adds a competitive edge to the fun, which I think has aided it's popularity among users. When users repeatedly go to the same places or are always discovering new spots to hang out, they win points and in turn, earn badges. These badges help businesses' recognize that person as a loyal customer and many times can be offered discounts or rewards.

What are the benefits for PR professionals from these types of social networks?

Well, this is a whole new take on ways local businesses can market directly to consumers in our 24/7 "connected" society. These social media networks are opening up communication between consumers and local businesses more than ever before by:

1. Facilitating word of mouth marketing and advertising, and allowing consumers to share news with their network – which is always much more effective than business to consumer marketing or advertising.
2. Featuring benefits for users who are loyal customers to local businesses.
3. Adding elements of competition like points and badges to encourage regular use of the application.

More and more we are seeing interactive applications being designed for smartphones. I can't wait to save up for a smartphone myself upon my return to the USA this summer.

To read more from Social Media Examiner and business tips for using Foursquare, check out this link.

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