The location based social networking site Foursquare is a major player in the social media world today and doesn’t intend to lose that position. Foursquare has created a whole new social currency with their check-in system and are capitalizing on the rapidly growing trend to make social activity more of a game with their badges. We’ve found 3 big brands to learn from that are growing their businesses in this space and putting leagues between them and their competition.

The Mayor of the Mayor Offer

Foursquare allows businesses to give an exclusive deal for the mayor. Some examples  include Hot Dog on a Stick, Karl Strauss Brewery & Restaurant and the Cowboy Star Restaurant and Butcher Shop which at the time of this post all offer either a free drink, appetizer or discount. These offers have all been successful, but Starbucks has taken the mayorship, and did it better than anyone else for this offer category.

Starbucks was already the most checked in retailer on the Foursquare platform, but increased it’s check-ins by 50% by giving $1 off any size Frappuccino® for its’ mayors. The key success factor was that this offer was offering real value, and that also made the competition to claim the mayorship of the local Starbucks pretty fierce. This frenzy went viral on twitter which increased the effectiveness of this campaign.

Overall Foursquare Strategy Boosts Sales
Many brands tip toe into social media platforms and don’t see many results, but Radio Shack has fully jumped in and have really noticed a bottom line impact. In fact, the CMO Lee Applbaum released at the Ad Age Digital conference that Foursquare users spend 3.5X more than non-Foursquare users spend at their retail locations.

Radio Shack has been innovating in the space for some time now. They developed a holiday season campaign in 2010 in which they offered 10 percent off for every store check-in; 15 percent off for store ‘mayors;’ and 20 percent off for unlocking the customized Radio Shack “Holiday Heroes” badge.

As an ongoing campaign, they’ve offered a “Newbie Special” allowing customers checking-in for the first time to get 20 percent off qualifying purchases to boost trials. To build long term engagement, they’ve also offered non-newbies a “Check-In Special” of 10 percent off, and mayors 20 percent off. This strategy is effective because it brings in new customers and retains them. In this case, customers can taste how sweet it is to get 20% off right off the bat and allows them to get it again as long as they keep stopping by.

Create a Partnership and a Customized Badge

The 2011 Super Bowl became the first “global venue” ever and became the most checked into venue ever with 200,000 check-ins in only four hours. The official Foursquare blog states that “there were check-ins from Super Bowl parties in all 50 states, and 125 countries, including 13 check-ins from the Vatican.”

There was an opportunity to claim 3 special badges created just for the game; 1 for each team and then an additional one for those at the actual game in North Texas.

In addition to fans being able to shout their support of their team to their Foursquare community with these customized badges, a special promotional code was given to each who unlocked one of them. A 20% discount was given on select merchandise at

A limited number of brands are now able to “partner” with the Foursquare team and create a special badge for themselves. This could be a huge opportunity to boost the reach of brands in this space. Both companies and celebrities are able to submit a “Foursquare Partner Badge Inquiry” and be evaluated on a case by case basis.


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Interested in learning more about how local businesses effectively use Foursquare? Visit: Foursquare Specials: How Local, Small Businesses Can Use Them.