Time and resources are not limitless, so it’s important for companies to invest their time wisely when deciding what social media platforms to use for their business. Due to it’s relatively small fanbase, some businesses have begun to question the usefulness of Foursquare, the location-based, check-in platform. However, just because Foursquare is small doesn’t mean it’s without value to business owners. In fact, there are many things about Foursquare now and what it may be in the future that make it time for business owners to give the platform a second look.
Though it’s not growing at the speeds of some of the larger startups social networks like Pinterest and Instagram, Foursquare is continuing to make gains. There is even evidence to suggests that the network may be heading toward a growth spurt. There were more 5 billion check-ins in 2013 but what’s more amazing, the number Foursquare users grew from 30 million at the start of the year to 45 million by December. A 50 percent increase in the fanbase in one year is a sign that Foursquare may grow in importance with time. However, compared to the number of users of platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, 45 million is a relatively small number.
Even if Foursquare’s number never rival that of the larger social networks, there is still a value in reaching the niche market of people who want to use Foursquare to talk about the businesses they visit. For example, some users like that Foursquare can use the phone’s location data to connect users to their friends, nearby events, and more. Foursquare users can easily become some of the most vocal supporters of a business.
Foursquare is also useful for getting travellers to learn about businesses that are near them. No matter where the in the world a person travels. If there are Foursquare users around, a traveller can quickly learn what is near them, what the people in the area think of the place and maps to the location. In a recent blog post, an iMore employee encouraged people to abandon all other travel apps and use Foursquare instead.
Another benefit is that Foursquare makes it easier for businesses to form communities from their most frequent visitors. This is especially useful for businesses in urban areas where the public realm is primarily made up of strangers. A study from Cornell that examined interaction on Foursquare suggested that “users on Foursquare can interact and can experience increased person–to–person connections with strangers using the mobile social network as well as person–to–place connections, which can both lead to the parochialization [forming small communities] of the public realm.”
“Places really do matter to people,” said Lee Humphreys, an assistant professor of communication at Cornell, “but the real story is about connection with others. These technologies can be used to help people: If you have just moved to a new place, you can end up meeting people through the technology.”
However, the news hasn’t been all good for Foursquare. According to a survey of 1,000 consumers and 50 retailers, 89 percent of consumers that interact with a retailer online through social media say that that interaction impacts their spending, but only 2 percent said Foursquare had any impact at all. Though it may not directly affect spending, the research cited early shows there are other reasons why marketers should continue to use the platform.
All of the above research and studies are based on what Foursquare has done so far, but a recent infusion of investment capital means that the app will soon be getting new features that may help marketers. To illustrate, the company has plans to add an automatic recommendation system and to add features that make it easier for businesses to monetize their Foursquare profile. Beyond that Foursquare is also experimenting with big data solutions. The large amount of location data it receives can be used by advertisers and marketers to better understand the foot traffic near their business.
Even though it’s small, Foursquare offers a lot of benefits to business owners with physical locations. Being able to reach new customers in the area and developing a community among current customers are benefits that make it worthwhile to give Foursquare a second look. And keep on the look out for changes to the platform. Foursquare’s plans for the future include several features that may make this one niche platform that every store should embrace.