Social media and the tech world in general are experiential in nature — meaning that the more you use them, the better your understanding. In a world where it seems that anyone born after 1993 has hard-wired WordPress proficiency and sixteen year old “digital natives” have 150,000 Instagram followers, this presents an issue for some business owners who could benefit most from a strong social media presence.
Here are some ways that a business owner can improve their presence on Foursquare and other social media:
Throw yourself into the social media platforms you’re using to interact with customers and build your brand. This way you can get a hands-on feel for how your customers will interact with the platform.
For example, I had never used Foursquare before when I realized that my restaurant had over 300 check-ins in the space of three months. I quickly claimed my business and got a personal Foursquare account. With my personal account I’ve been aggressively checking into as many places as I can think of, and in doing so have come to understand how users interact with the platform (by being one!) and what makes a business page pop.
Without thrusting yourself into the game-like world of apps (such as Foursquare), it’s easy to write them off or misunderstand how or why users would use them to engage with businesses. By becoming a user, you get an inside look on how or why a guest would check in to your business or find you through an app.
2. Entice Customers With Great Specials
Immersing myself in the platform as a user has allowed me to craft eye-catching specials that actually pique users’ interest — rather than flat, uninvolved content that doesn’t take into account the various ways in which users can stumble upon your page and unlock its specials. For example, I realized (by doing it myself) that when you check into a local bar or event venue, Foursquare will often recommend a nearby eating place to go to afterward, particularly if there’s a special.
Recognizing the proliferation of bars and live music venues in the area, I chose to offer a “drunk food” special of sorts, a free order of our Salchipapas (waffle fries smothered in toppings – the Colombian answer to poutine!) on a guest’s first visit. Business owners can put whatever stipulations they like on a special; in this case guests had to buy a drink and sandwich in order to redeem the free item.
My staff (and I) have been instructed to ask guests who redeem the special upon check-in whether they stumbled upon it – while checking in or browsing Foursquare – or if they were already planning on coming.
Out of 62 redemptions between May 6th (date of inception) and June 15th, around 75% of them said that they had never been to the restaurant before and were not planning on coming until they saw the special.
Since my cost on an order of salchipapas is around $1, I essentially bought 45 brand new customers for only $45. Considering that all of them brought at least one friend and purchased at least the minimum requirement, this seems like a good bargain to me. The ones who didn’t come exclusively for the special were not a complete wash either – a free dish only adds to the experiences of regular guests or those who just happen upon the special – and since they had to order a full meal besides, I didn’t lose much off the bottom line.
3. Make Your Content Pop
I find that often in digital marketing, especially for small local businesses, traditional marketing and advertising ideals are thrown to the wind. Specials like the ones detailed above are a cool, fun, way of adding content to your page, even if the users don’t come in! But put some thought into it – simply adding a special like “Free bag of chips” is not enough to “hook” savvy potential customers. The content of your specials (or advertisements in the case of Facebook) should be catchy and provide a point of interaction between the users and your brand.
This is a tremendous – and free! – opportunity to showcase your brand’s personality and make the experience of finding and redeeming the specials a fun and interactive one. I use the wit and humor of our brand in conjunction with questions and imperatives (“Hey, you’re kinda cute. Come here often? How about we buy you this beer (or soda) to show you how much we care?”) to get the most out of specials and make sure they show up on peoples’ radars.
Like a good gardener, it’s important to curate and maintain the content on your page (not just your specials). This can be difficult – as much of your brand’s Foursquare content is user-created – but as with other platforms, you want to make sure your Foursquare presence “shines” and provides a fun, exciting, and useful place for users to interact. Making sure there are photos that reflect both your product and brand identity is a definite, as is making sure all information on the business is correct.
In addition to clever specials, a good byline that sums up what you are is key, since users will almost certainly be viewing the page from a mobile device and it’s important that they get the gist of what you offer.
A well-curated page leads to more redemptions of specials, which leads to satisfied customers and better ratings. Our rating at Los Perros Locos has gone up one full point, from 7.6 to 8.6, since I started paying attention to the page and specials.
By utilizing platforms such as Foursquare solely from the vantage point of a business, it’s possible to miss many of the nuances of the platforms and how to get the most out of them. With the proliferation of new social media platforms, what are some ways you can boost your business’ visibility and presence online and on mobile apps?