How to Promote Your Bar with Foursquare

By Ray Foley, Heather Dismore

With more than 45 million users and 1.5 million businesses, Foursquare is perhaps the ultimate in location-based social media tools to use for your bar. In most cases, users access Foursquare through an app on a smartphone. The app then directs users to nearby locations that match their search criteria.

The users then check in when they arrive at a location. Foursquare users are also big on leaving tips for future patrons, so give them something to talk about. You want them to talk about your half-price happy hour appetizers or your $3 Thursdays, for example.

Foursquare develops pages for businesses whether the businesses want them to or not, much like Yelp. You, as a business owner, need to take charge of the listing and manage the content on the page, rather than letting the users do it for you.

Plus, when you claim your business, you get access to the free reporting that Foursquare offers, including how many of its customers are also yours, who your most frequent visitors are, and what kinds of tips users are leaving about your place.

Here’s how to claim your venue on Foursquare:

  1. Go to Foursquare for Businesses and click the “Learn More” button.

  2. Click the “Get Started” button.

  3. Enter your bar’s name and location in the search box.

    If your bar is found, click the “Claim Venue” button. If it isn’t found, click the “Add venue” link.

  4. Check the box that states “I am the owner (or working on behalf of the owner) and agree to the Venue Platform terms of use” (after you read those terms). Then click the “Get Started” button.

  5. Validate your ownership of the venue.

    Enter your phone number in the text box and click the “Call Me Now” button. Within a few minutes you’ll receive an automated call from Foursquare asking you to record a few details.

    To complete this step, you’ll need to have both a phone and a computer available. At one point during the signup process, a four-digit code will appear on the website on your computer that you’ll need to enter into the phone during the call.

  6. Foursquare gives you the choice to expedite your final verification code (for $20) or wait three to four weeks for a free postcard in the mail. Decide which one works for you.

  7. When you receive the final verification code, return to business.foursquare.com and log in. Click the “Complete verification” link to finish up the process.

Through Foursquare’s check-in feature, you’re able to know when users are in your bar. You can administer special pricing designed to reward your most loyal patrons through Foursquare.

For example, the person who has frequented (and checked in through the Foursquare app) your place the most often is the called the “mayor.” You can set a special discount rate of say 15 or 20 percent for the mayor. The code comes through only to the mayor through the Foursquare app.

Other people can see that the mayor gets special perks, and hopefully will bump up their visit frequency to cash in on perks for themselves.

Here are a few other ways to use Foursquare to drive more patrons into your bar:

  • Create a flash special that’s only good for a few hours. These specials get people off the couch now and into your bar stools.

  • Develop loyalty check-in specials, like a free appetizer on the third check-in.

  • Encourage first-timers to give you a try. Offer a drink upgrade with their first check-in. Give a 22-ounce beer at the pint price, or offer a call drink at the well price.

  • Offer giveaways for patrons who check in and spread the word. So maybe, if a patron tweets his Foursquare check-in, he’s entered to win a gift card. For the price of a $20 gift card, you may get 20 people to tweet it to their hundreds of followers. Not a bad option.

You can always look to Foursquare Ads to help you drive even more patrons to your bar. The amazing thing about these ads as of this printing is that you don’t pay for people to see them, you pay only when people act on the ads. So what do you have to lose?