Location-Based Cause Marketing Tools: Foursquare

By Joe Waters, Joanna MacDonald

Foursquare is a location-based social networking service that’s primarily used on smartphones with GPS (Global Positioning System) — that thing on your smartphone that tells the world exactly where you are.

Foursquare is similar to other location-based services in that users check in at venues with their smartphones. For example, if you were stopping by a bakery shop, the GPS in your phone would identify your location and you could check in to the shop, thereby sharing your whereabouts with your friends on Foursquare.

Foursquare rewards check-ins with points and badges and even offers for special discounts and incentives.

There’s good reason why Foursquare tops many lists: With 7 million users, Foursquare is by far the largest service dedicated to location-based activities. It also has many of the features that are common to nearly all of the largest services:

Foursquare features include check-in, mayorships, specials, who’s there or nearby, and social
Foursquare features include check-in, mayorships, specials, who’s there or nearby, and social sharing.
  • Signup: Creating an account is free, and you’ll be asked to create a basic profile, which will include your e-mail address and even your phone number.

  • Check-in: Users can check in to a location with a few touches of a smartphone app.

  • Access to specials, awards, or rewards: In exchange for checking in, users receive incentives, badges, titles, and coupons to make using the app fun and to get and keep them shopping.

  • Stalking: Just kidding. But Foursquare can tell you who’s where or nearby. If you check in to a wine store that another Foursquare user has checked into, his name will be visible to you, unless he chooses not to share it with the world.

    Foursquare allows you to check in to a location without identifying yourself — a great feature if you and your spouse are avid Foursquare users, but you want to keep your Dairy Queen habit to yourself!

  • Social updates: You can share your check-in, location (with a picture, if you choose!), on social media sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, or by e-mail or short message service (SMS).