Foursquare 3.0, a new software release of the location-based mobile game, hit iPhone and Android markets on March 8th, with updates for Blackberry users also coming in the near future. This release includes multiple new features that will help to further engage users and provide small businesses with powerful new tools. As many of you already know, we at Catalyst have been a big proponent of foursquare since its initial release only 2 years ago. Since then, we’ve published a foursquare book and wrote numerous articles on the advantages for small business owners using foursquare. With the user base skyrocketing to 7.5 million, it may be time for your small business to seriously start considering utilizing foursquare if you haven’t already.
The foursquare team breaks down the objective of the 3.0 versions’ new features into 3 main categories; to promote user discovery with a new “Explore” tab, to add encouragement with a new Leaderboard system, and to increase consumer loyalty with the addition of 6 new “Specials” options. As we will explain further below, co-founder and CEO Dennis Crowley, when speaking about foursquare 3.0, emphasizes the ultimate goal of “every check-in counts.” According to Jennifer Van Grove’s of Mashable, “The new release turns on the power of every foursquare check-in accumulated over the course of its two-year history and transforms that data into recommendations.” Pretty powerful stuff!
New Foursquare Special Options
The foursquare upgrade that will most directly affect small business owners’ ability to increase consumer loyalty and sales will be the 6 new “Specials” options. These new foursquare Specials can be geared towards foursquare swarms, groups of friends, new comers, regulars, Mayors, or everyone in general. To showcase these rewards to a foursquare user, the “Places” screen of the foursquare mobile application will now show all foursquare Specials within the user’s proximity. This feature enhances foursquare’s ability to be used as an effective marketing tool to draw new and regular customers to your small business. Also, with the new variety of Specials merchants can now offer, they will be able to be much more creative in designing a foursquare strategy to entice consumers to visit their business. From the user standpoint, there will be many more scenarios where they now qualify for a Special, further motivation to visit a participating small business.
New foursquare “Explore” Tab For Users To Discover New Small Businesses
Another key new feature of foursquare 3.0 is the addition of an “Explore” tab which recommends places for the user to visit based on a number of factors. Foursquare’s blog sums up the Explore tab with the following:
“tell us what you’re looking for and we’ll help you find something nearby. The suggestions are based on a little bit of everything – the places you’ve been, the places your friends have visited, your loyalty to your favorite places, the categories and types of places you gravitate towards, what’s popular with other users, the day of the week, places with great tips, the time of day, and so on.”
A separate “Me” tab compliments the Explore tab by letting the user get ideas of places to visit based on where their friends visit and recommend. In a way, the Me tab is similar to when you ask a friend for advice of where to eat dinner. Your friend will tell you where he eats dinner and why he likes it, basically providing you with a recommendation. The Explore and Me tabs can now help you with those decisions, just in case a friend isn’t around. A consumer will now be more likely to visit a business that fits their taste, increasing the chance of sales at participating small businesses.
New and Improved foursquare Leaderboard
To encourage users to check-in more often, the Leaderboard has been revamped to a 7-day sliding barometer which displays check-ins of both the user and his/her friends. Also, one simple check-in will now have the potential to earn numerous points for dozens of different reasons. Examples of these actions include trying new restaurants, visiting new places, meeting up with old friends, etc. These new gaming mechanics will really encourage users to step outside of their norm and try new things. If a small business joins foursquare, their opportunity to attract new customers will surely increase with the updated Leaderboard feature.
We said we were excited about foursquare for small business before, but now we are ecstatic. The new features added to the 3.0 release will further engage current customers as well as encourage users to explore new places in their town (possibly yours). Additionally, it will help match consumers with small businesses that make the most sense for them based on their preferences. Although Facebook now has a “Places” feature built into its app, its capabilities and potential to increase a business’s consumer base are still light years behind foursquare.
Is your small business on foursquare? Perhaps you should be. Let us know how your foursquare experience has been. What’s been bugging you? What do you love? Please use the comments section below to share your thoughts with other small business owners who might be thinking about adding foursquare to their marketing mix.