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Foursquare is often the playing field of today’s movers and shakers in social media. I, myself, have been known to get a childish giggle about unlocking a new badge (even when it’s the Overshare badge) or getting a free donut at Dunkin Donuts for every fifth check-in. However, brands cannot seem to connect with Foursquare the way users can. With over 20 million members who have checked-in a total of 2 billion times, Foursquare has offered a large reach of consumers but no real way for brands to interact with them…until now.

Foursquare has announced its new consumer-driven initiatives that enhance the power of communication between the brand and its users. The location-based social network has introduced an app redesign for iPhone and Android users, Local Updates, Promoted Updates, and a new dashboard.

In the past, business owners were limited to simply claiming their venues and setting up a special badge or discount. The engagement and interaction between client and consumer was lacking tremendously. The whole idea behind being a social network is being able to connect and offer value to your target audience. Foursquare just didn’t bring much to the table. With these new features, Foursquare steps up to the plate to become a more active player in the social community.

Let’s take a deeper look into these features:

App Redesign

This redesign focuses on the user interface simplicity while creating more social interactions between users. Alex Rainert, Foursquare’s head of product, said in a recent interview, “We decided to pull the pieces apart and put them back together again…We want to create the richest experience possible.”


Local Updates

This free tool gives merchants an opportunity to channel customers into their store and ultimately drive sales. The feature allows merchants to target nearby and loyal customers with their updates. These updates can include text, one to three pictures, and a special that can be targeted to all customers or toward a specific location.

So how does this work? Consumers that have checked into your business multiple times or Liked the business on Foursquare will receive these updates when in the same city. It also uses the location of people in correlation to your store address. Local Updates is available to all merchants that have claimed their business on Foursquare.

Take a look at how these Local Updates will look in the consumer’s stream under the “Friends” tab:


Promoted Updates

Promoted Updates differ from Local Updates in that they allow brands to discover an audience outside of their loyal consumer base. This is Foursquare’s first paid product and can be compared to Google AdWords in that if you search for a specific keyword your results would show your Promoted Update campaign. Foursquare targets these Promoted Updates based on a user’s lists, places their friends have visited, or places the user may check-in based on their location. Unfortunately, these have only been rolled out to a small pilot program of big companies that are paying based on “cost per action.”

Take a look at how these Promoted Updates will look in the consumer’s stream under the “Explore” tab:


Foursquare has also redesigned the merchant dashboard and created new analytical tools to help develop greater insights to your venues and activity. This dashboard gives real-time data about your consumers such as most frequent visitors, most recent visitors, even what time of day people check-in.  This gives brands an opportunity to fully optimize and distinguish trends that correlate to foot traffic and buying habits.

Here is a view of the dashboard:

As Foursquare increases its efforts to become a sustainable network for brands to engage with consumers, we will begin to see the rise of Foursquare as a revenue generator. Foursquare is finally giving a voice to brands and allowing them to connect on a more meaningful level. How will your brand evolve with the times?

+Anna Lea Crowe Social Media Strategist at Webhead Interactive.