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How to use social media as a loyalty tool

I worked on The Com Store account way back in the early nineties, when it was one of the dominant forces in mobile phone retailing, along with Strathfield Car Radio.

Foursquare MayorIt was also the time when digital mobile was first introduced into Australia. Amongst other benefits, digital technology provided businesses with the opportunity to send location-based texts promoting their product or service.

The example given was that McDonalds would know I’m on George St in the city, and send me a text message with a ‘Free Fries’ offer if I visited their George St store in the next 15 minutes.

From a marketing point of view it sounded extremely powerful – targeted offers that were contextual,l based on a customer’s location. But to date I’ve never seen anyone use the technology in this way in Australia.

Well, now there’s a social media platform that makes this marketing tactic accessible to all businesses, large and small. It’s called Foursquare.

If you’re not familiar with Foursquare, it’s a web and mobile application that allows registered users to connect with friends and update their location. Think of it as an alternative to Twitter – it’s a micro-blogging platform, so you only have 140 characters (like Twitter) – the difference being it allows you to ‘Check In’ at different locations, so you know where your friends are geographically.

Like all social media platforms there’s pros and cons for using Foursquare, however I wanted to focus on 2 benefits for small-medium sized businesses.

Firstly, consider your local coffee shop, and the Coffee Card most of them use to encourage repeat purchase. You could use Foursquare as an alternative to the paper-based Coffee Card – instead of punching your card, you simply Check-In, and your customer receives a free coffee for every 10th Check In.

The added benefit of this is free advertising and social proof, as your customer’s friends see their public advocacy of your coffee.

Secondly, you can use it as a promotional tool as outlined in the McDonalds example above.

Whether it’s for your first Check-In or as a repeat customer, you could also run a ‘Wildcard’ promotion where it’s a random offer, or an extra-special incentive for your Mayor (the user who has checked in the most in the last 60 days).

There are already a number of retailers, cafes and restaurants using it effectively in Australia. Check it out here… http://foursquare.com/businesses/

There are other services in the US such as Yelp and Google Places that offer similar benefits, and are sure to be introduced locally in time.

Can you see value in Foursquare for your business?

Could you use it as a promotional mechanic, or as an alternative form to capturing customer loyalty?

What do you think?

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Joel Norton

Joel Norton

Joel is Chief Strategy Officer of <a href="http://Boosthq.com.au">Boost Marketing</a>, a specialist small business marketing consultancy. He is an accomplished marketing professional with 22 years experience, and is passionate about delivering strategic, practical marketing solutions that help small business to be more profitable. Joel is also a sought after speaker on the elements of small business marketing. You can follow Joel on twitter <a href="http://www.twitter.com/boosthq">@BoostHQ</a>

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