Want to know how your business can use FourSquare?

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Facebook is one of the most popular social networking on the world wide web, with over 500 million unique users it is normally the first stop for most users of the internet. But not much credit is given to other social networking websites, which are more refined and specific to what they believe their users are more interested in.

Foursquare is the second iteration of the same idea, that people can use mobile devices to interact with their environment. Launched in March 2009, Foursquare is a location-based social networking website for mobile devices, such as smartphones. Foursquare (and it's predecessor, dodgeball.com) is a free app available on Android, ios, Windows and Blackberry, When you're out and about, you can use Foursquare to share and save the places you visit.

Since its launch Foursquare has come leaps and bound and as of September 2013:

Foursquare by the numbers (last updated September, 2013)

Community: Over 40 million people worldwide

Over 4.5 billion check-ins, with millions more every day

Businesses: Over 1.5 million using the Merchant Platform

Employees: Over 160 between headquarters in New York, an office in San Francisco, and London.

Foursquare users "check in" at venues using a mobile website, text messaging or app by selecting from a list of venues the application locates nearby. Each check-in awards the user points and sometimes "badges".

Before writing this, I knew of Foursquare but wasn’t really familiar with how it worked. After a week of using it during my summer I can truly say I can’t help but check-in everywhere I go. Each time a user checks into a place, he or she receives points. There are more than 100 reasons Foursquare awards points.

Some of the most commonly awarded ones are below:

Checking in to a new place – 3 points

Becoming the Mayor of a venue – 5 points

Checking in when already the Mayor – 3 points

Being the first of the user's friends to check into a new location – 3 points

Checking in to a place the user has been before – 1 point

Checking in to a new category for the first time – 4 points

Users can check their standing against friends on a leaderboard within the app.

Foursquare Brands allows companies to create pages of tips and allows users to "follow" the company and receive special, expert tips from them when they check-in at certain locations. Some of the companies even allow users to unlock special badges with enough check-ins.

Foursquare allows local businesses to highlight things that are great about it, encouraging customers to visit more often by posting updates. Share exciting news, upcoming events, or featured items, these updates are shown to anyone nearby, which can help people looking for things to do in the area.

Businesses can also reward people for visiting ( Visit = Check-in) via ‘Foursquare Specials’. Specials can be anything, like a free drink on the 3rd visit, 10% discount, or an upgrade to the front row. They’ll show their phone to your staff to redeem the reward, but I have read forums where people have been refused offers (so don’t quote me).

Like most Social Networking websites Social Analytics are available to business accounts. This allows business owners to monitor visitor traffic and learn about your customers. Get to know who's checking in each week (and how many are sharing their check-ins to Facebook and Twitter), who’s visiting for the first time, and more. Plus, see the impact of your updates and specials.

I have found Foursquare to be the most amazing take on the whole vouchers concept, that can be annoying at times. Foursquare takes this factor away by applying something as simple as checking in which us techie’s do on a daily basis, and get rewarded for doing it. One of my local bars in Southampton offered me a free tea or coffee just for checking in for first time, and if I become mayor I get 10% off my food bill.  Mayor of a venue, I see the weird face you’re pulling but trust me, try foursquare out and let the addiction take over.

Content Assistant - Odelle Hogg

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