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Foursquare Works


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I hope you enjoy this 101 guide to getting started with foursquare for business. And while our stories are primarily examples from our success using the tools in the restaurant business, I think you'll find many applications. Please feel free to share as much as you'd like.

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Foursquare Works

  1. 1. #FoursquareWorks Restaurant 2.0 Edition “Any business looking to create a social media presence could employ the strategy and tactics inside to create a personal connection with customers.” - Tristan Walker, Director of Business Development, Foursquare By Joe Sorge, Co-Author of #Twitter Works! and owner of AJ Bombers. Forward and illustrations by Scott Baitinger.
  2. 2. 2 #TwitterWorks Restaurant 2.0 Edition The story of how social media built a restaurant, a pizza truck and thousands of relationships. Phil Gerbyshak - Joe Sorge - Scott Baitinger “I read a lot of business books and I can tell you TwitterWorks has all the answers provided by guys who have walked the walk.” Jack Covert Founder and President 800-CEO-READ “Read TwitterWorks and save yourself 8 months of apologizing for learning on the job.” Chris Brogan New York Times Best Selling Author - Social Media 101 “Operators can learn a lot from the stories of their tenacious peers in this book.” Mark Brandau Senior Desk Editor - Nation’s Restaurant News
  3. 3. 3 “Phil, Joe, and Scott are the right guys to write this book because they LIVE THIS STUFF. There, that’s 140 characters. Well, actually, it’s a lot less than 140, because you need room to let people retweet. And you really need room to let people comment. And to be honest, if YOU are checking this book out, I’m going to say you didn’t really know you needed that. And that’s the point. Read #Twitter Works and save yourself 8 months of apologizing for learning on the job.” - Chris Brogan, New York Times Bestselling Author: Social Media 101 and Trust Agents “Your relationship with your customer doesn’t have to be over the minute they leave your establishment or website. Social media services such as Twitter allow you to continue your good service beyond the point of sale, create long-lasting relationships, and reap the kind of unparalleled customer loyalty that only good two-way communication can build. Not sure where to start? I read a lot of business books, and I can tell you #Twitter Works has all the answers provided by guys who have walked the walk.” - Jack Covert, Founder and President 800-CEO-READ Make sure to check #TwitterWorks!, co-written by Joe Sorge.
  4. 4. 4 Chapter 1
  5. 5. 5 They’re appearing all over town—signs announcing who the mayor is, signs encouraging people to “check in here,” circles with funny pictures inside of them with rewards attached to them. Have you wondered what’s going on? Wonder no longer, because you’ve found the answer. People everywhere are start- ing to “check in” with a new localized social media platform called Foursquare. Do you need to pay attention, or is this just a fad? As it happens,, one of the leading social media expert blogs, called Foursquare “the next Twitter.” Twitter, of course, was and is phenomenal enough to grow businesses to heights they might never have imagined otherwise. Twitter allowed people to enter a two-way communication with the businesses they knew, loved, and supported most. That proved to be pretty awesome for the restaurant business. Are You Tuned In To Checking In?
  6. 6. 6 Using social media right isn’t just an online thing. It’s an offline thing too. Here’s our “things to do while waiting for a table” signage at AJ Bombers, encouraging our guests to get connected while they wait. But, of course, there was always one problem with Twitter. You could end up with a whole bunch of followers from all over the world—but in general, most of your customers are going to come from within your own city or town. Foursquare, however, is immanently local. It’s also very easy to incorporate into your restaurant, bar, club, or other establishment. In fact, if I were to say anything about Foursquare, it is that this social media platform is made for our industry. Think about some of the primary ways people use Foursquare: • To tell their friends in the city where they are, perhaps to arrange impromptu meet-ups. Where is this most likely to happen? At a bar, restaurant, coffee shop, or club, of course! • To help one another explore what’s cool, hip, and hot in their city. Your establishment could be right at the top of this list.
  7. 7. 7 • To tell one another what’s great on the menu, how their service was, and when that great new band is going to be playing the venue next. • Just to enjoy playing the game itself—some people love collecting badges, competing for Mayorships, and crossing a net game with a real life application. Sure, the people using Foursquare could check in at the local library too, but the primary motivation is to identify social meet-ups and hot spots, to perhaps meet friends who are interested in the same sorts of places they are, and to explore the city where they live. A casual tour around Foursquare can help suggest 3 or 4 places worth visiting without you even having to try hard. It’s catching on among the highly “plugged in” mobile phone users, the social media savvy, the networkers. That means you can make it work for your business. Just imagine this scenario. A local social butterfly with about 150 real life friends on her Twitter network arrives at your restaurant and checks in. The message goes to their other social media networks, and the invitation is implicit—“hey, join me there!” Suddenly, you might have 4-5 more people at your restaurant that you wouldn’t have gotten before. The customer has acted as an advocate on your behalf, and you haven’t had to do a thing to get that kind of word of mouth excellence, except, of course, to be the wonderful establishment that you are!
  8. 8. 8 This is all before you have plugged into Foursquare at all. Our aim with this book is to show you how to take that power and increase it to 10, 20, 50, or even 250 more visitors—in a single night—that you might not have gotten before. When you engage with Foursquare you meet customers right where they are, an opportunity to engage with them at the very point of ex- perience. Let’s face it, eating out isn’t just about getting a quick meal you didn’t have to cook. It’s about having fun! In #Twitter Works!my partners and I pointed out that using social media does something to your restaurant. It helps your restaurant evolve into something that isn’t yours, but is theirs— your customers, your regulars, your most loyal and engaged. These customers shape the restaurant by speaking out, you listen, you respond, and you reap the benefits. Foursquare takes this a step further. I’m going to show you exactly how to further build your brand with Foursquare: how to use it, and how to use it to further en- gage your guests to outstanding effect. I encourage you to print this book out, take notes for your own use, and follow along. This is the kind of advertising power that puts you on par with huge chains with multibillion dollar budgets. And it’s absolutely free. It’s one of the 21st century’s most powerful amplifiers of a very important marketing tool: word of mouth. And thanks to this technology, you can finally step in directly and do some things to help that word of mouth along.
  9. 9. 9 Additional Reading: square-app/ Brainstorm Here:
  10. 10. 10 Chapter 2
  11. 11. 11 To understand Foursquare, you need to understand the new wave of mobile phones. Blackberries, iPhones, Androids, and other tech-savvy phones are getting used, increasingly, as a way for people to connect with the Internet. Usually, they’re con- necting with two things: their e-mail, and social networks. Many of these phones is equipped with a GPS device. It’s handy for telling 911 where you are if you call during an emergency. It’s also handy for geolocation, which is the force behind Four- square.Geolocation uses the GPS in your smart phone to figure out where you are, and then allows you to tell others on your friends list through a social media application. Foursquare isn’t the only one of these applications out there…but it is the only one that has started picking up speed. Why?Because Foursquare changed things. It’s not just a shout-out of your location. Foursquare has made it a game. Each time a user goes to a location, Foursquare allows them to “Check In.” Every time the user checks in to Foursquare, they gather points. Points can be used to earn badges. Those badges can sometimes lead to real prizes, but users seem to enjoy rack- ing them up with or without the prizes. Everyone likes a game, even when the points and the prizes don’t amount to anything. What is Foursquare?
  12. 12. 12 That’s been true since long before Foursquare…just look at all your Facebook friends playing Farmville. Or, taking it back further, think back to your last game of Monopoly! And there’s more. Users don’t just report where they are. There’s the very powerful matter of the tips they can leave about each location. If I want to find somewhere cool to go in the city, I can see where my friends have been—then look and see what they had to say about their experience there. This adds the kind of value to the site that guarantees continued growth for Foursquare. The “To-Do” list represents another part of the site. Even if your friends can’t join you at AJ Bomber’s right now, they can add a visit to AJ Bombers and having a Barrie Burger on their “To-Do” list after reading your awesome tips about it. There are also leader boards—important for any game! The site fosters friendly competition and, like any social media properly used, can help people start making real life friendships with other people in the city who are interested in the same things they are. As it stands, in August 2010, Mashable reported that Four- square had topped the 3 million user registration mark! That alone should tell you this method of reaching out to people isn’t something you want to ignore. Foursquare started out as a location-restricted service. But anything on the Internet that tells you a list of places that are available is out of date. Foursquare is available anywhere now—
  13. 13. 13 In Chapter 4, we’re going to teach you how to interact with Foursquare in a step-by-step manner. One of the things we’ll be showing you is how to set yourself as the manager of your venue, so you can begin interacting with Foursquare from a business perspective, and not just a personal perspective. Still, a good understanding of the fun of Foursquare is pretty vital to “tapping in” to the service at your restaurant. Fail to understand that point, fail to understand it as a tool for making or meet- ing new friends, and you’ll find it does very little for you. But of course, the more you use it and interact with it, the more useful it will become for your city. It’s the Mayor! Or a Mayor, of somewhere…visiting us here at AJ Bombers. He might be our mayor today. Or, someone might have knocked him out of his spot! What else is Foursquare? Thanks to the merchandise—t-shirts, buttons, and signs you can hang in your window, it’s also the perfect marriage of online and offline social fun. Start a party.
  14. 14. 14 Reward loyal customers. Let everybody know that you play the game too. Additional Reading: ny-news/foursquare-and-rival-geo-location-games-find-lots-of- love-at-sxs/19399581/ Brainstorm Here:
  15. 15. 15
  16. 16. 16 Chapter 3
  17. 17. 17 So with all of this in mind, let’s look at what Foursquare means specifically to your restaurant, bar, club, or coffee house. The first thing you should focus on is the fact that Foursquare, like Twitter before it, is a fantastic way to beat the recession. Even in a recession, as we know, people go out to eat. The ques- tion is where they’ll spend those squeezed entertainment dol- lars. Naturally, they will gravitate to “their” places—places their friends like, places where they are known, places that they’re loyal too. Foursquare gives you an unprecedented ability to actually build that loyalty, above and beyond the more organic tools of great food and great service. Everybody likes to feel like they’re known. For a long time, generating that kind of atmosphere was very difficult to achieve. People were busy. People didn’t take the time to talk to people. Foursquare lets you return that “neighborhood feel” to your establishment. Still not convinced? What is Foursquare to a Restaurant?
  18. 18. 18 No problem. I’ve gathered some stats on Foursquare for you. Foursquare currently hosts 1.4 million venues and 15.5 million check-ins. The number is getting bigger every single day. 77.38% of Foursquare users have checked in 30 or more times in one month. 57.41% of them have checked into 50 different venues in a month. Foursquare users also tend to have a higher income than aver- age. 39% of users have an income ranging from $25,000 a year to $74,999 a year. 35% of them have an income from $75,000 a year to over $200,000. In short, they have money to spend. If you use the tool correct- ly, build the loyalty and become a hip hot spot on Foursquare, they can and will spend it with you. *Source:
  19. 19. 19 Who’s on a boat? Here’s Joe IN a boat during our 4square day event! I’m sharing these stats with you to show you just how many sol- id customers you can reach through the power of Foursquare! Foursquare Dictionary Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s define some Foursquare terms so that we all stay on the same page. Badges: A badge is a special award based on activities Four- square users complete. For example, the “Don’t Stop Believin’” Badge is for people who check into three different locations that have the “karaoke” tag. You can get the Historian badge for following the History Channel account and visiting 2 locations marked with the “history channel” tag. Check-in: How you let Foursquare—and your friends—know where you are! Or, more importantly for you as a restaurant owner, how your guests let their friends (and Foursquare)
  20. 20. 20 know where they are. Dashboard: The business analytics page that Foursquare sets up for you when you claim a venue as your own. This will help you see who your best customers are, what your busiest times of day are, and who has been by most recently. Friends: Like Facebook and Twitter friends, those who connect with you and each other on Foursquare! This is where infor- mation about your restaurant “goes viral”—that is, spreads to everyone in town through 21st century word of mouth. Leaderboard: This will tell you who is ahead on check-ins for your city. Foursquare arranges this by proximity so that you’re only competing with others. This will also give you valuable data on the number of Foursquare users who are nearby and thus likely to visit your restaurant. Mayor: The customer who has checked into your establishment the most. Foursquare users sometimes end up quite competitive over taking the Mayorship of various venues. Tips: The site’s value builder: insider information from users about particular venues. You can also add your own tips about your own venue—i.e. your latest new menu items or the special of the day. Additional Reading: bucks-discount-foursquare-mayors/
  21. 21. 21 Brainstorm Here:
  22. 22. 22 Chapter 4
  23. 23. 23 Before you dive in to utilize Foursquare for your business, I’d recommend that you simply enjoy it as a user, and learn what makes it fun for your guests. Remember, your Foursquare experience is not my Foursquare experience, so take the time to talk to others about theirs! To get started, go to and set up your account. What is Foursquare to a Restaurant?
  24. 24. 24 If you’ve set up an account anywhere else before you’ll find this an extremely easy and un-intimidating process. In fact, if you have a Facebook account, you can just use that to connect to Foursquare. If not, you can simply fill in the form. Next, the site will offer to find some friends for you by farming your Facebook, Twitter, and Gmail accounts. You can either do that now, or wait and do it later—the “Find Friends” option is always available in the menu. You can also invite friends to join Foursquare if they aren’t there already.
  25. 25. 25 You want to update all of your profile information. Make sure that you upload your picture, too. There are two reasons for this. Number one, you’re going to want to use this as a way to make personal connections between people, and that means showing off your smiling face. Number two, if you end up the Mayor of your favorite spot the managers of the venue won’t be able to give you specials if they don’t know who you are! Your picture is the primary way you’ll be identified, so pick a good one. Now, u se the search bar at the top of the page to find a venue. Just type a place in your city that you like. You’ll see a page that looks like this: There are several important parts of this page. First, there’s the map and address, which will help you get to a new venue. Sec- ond, there’s the tips list. This will show you other people’s tips, as well as allowing you to enter your own. You’ll see the staff bar, too. This will be important later, when you start setting up your own venue’s page. You don’t want you or your staff check- ing in and becoming the mayor of your venue. That’s just lame,
  26. 26. 26 and it defeats the whole purpose of the game. You can also see the current Mayor, the total number of people who have visited on Foursquare, and the total check-ins. Finally, you’ll see the special offer for Foursquare users. In the case of the AJ Bombers page, the offer is: Check-in, get a free Pnut Bomb! (shhhh....everyone gets a Pnut Bomb) De- throne the Mayor, get a free burger! Add a tip or todo and get a free cookie. Note the different elements of our offer—there’s an incentive to check in, an incentive to try to dethrone the Mayor, and an incentive to add a tip or to do. We’ll revisit this later, when it comes time to set up your own offer. You’ll also notice that there’s a grey bar that tells you to add the venue to your to-do list. Go ahead and do that now. Then go click on the “Me” tab. You’ll see the tips you’ve added in a little box. That box has a tab for your To-Do list.
  27. 27. 27 If you look down at the very bottom there are also some brands that would like you to follow them. By doing so, you can un- lock additional badges, and perhaps find some new, interesting things in your city. Click on any one of those. As you can see, following a brand is relatively easy. You can also see the tips the brand has left, so look for a place in your area that you might want to visit. Another thing I like to do is see where my friends have gone. I might find somewhere new. (Useful tip, if you see someone who has a lot of Mayorships they might be worth following for that reason alone). For example, this fellow with the towel on his head has a stag- gering thirty-four mayorships. He’s likely to know some cool places to go. Click on one that sparks your interest:
  28. 28. 28 Take note of the orange,“Do you manage this venue? Claim here,” button. That’s the button you’re going to use when it comes time to claim your own establishment. This is what shows up when nobody has set themselves up as the manager yet, instead of the special offers or staff pages. Let’s say a venue you like, or the venue you manage, isn’t avail- able on Foursquare yet. You’ll see a page that looks like this when you try to search for it: I’m going to go ahead and walk you through adding your venue and working with your page, as this is the chapter for the techni- cal stuff. Don’t forget to have some fun with Foursquare before you get too far into this process, however!
  29. 29. 29 Don’t forget to add your Twitter name! Linking Foursquare to other social media is one of its big strengths. Once you claim your venue, you’ll see a page like the one below. Scroll all the way down to the “Let’s Get Started” button. After you do that, it will take you to the first step, where you confirm that you are authorized to speak for this business.
  30. 30. 30 Note that it will give you the option to create a business account rather than going ahead with your personal Foursquare account. That is definitely something you’re going to want to do: Go ahead and set up your new account. Once you do that you’ll have to go back and claim the venue again. Go ahead and click on the orange button, then follow all the steps that it tells you to follow. You’ll have to verify your business by phone in order to be allowed to continue. Then you’ll be able to create specials and view your dashboard. For now, let’s leave that behind and work on getting Foursquare where it really counts—your mobile phone. Go to This will give you links to each of the 4 phones Foursquare supports: the iPhone, the Android, the Blackberry, and the Palm. If you don’t have one of those phones, it’s no problem…you can just Text your tip to 50500 to “check-in” on a regular mobile phone. But assum- ing you do have a phone that supports the actual Foursquare
  31. 31. 31 app, click on the type of phone that you use. It will give you the exact directions on how to proceed: Once you have the app downloaded to your phone, you can load it up on the device and start using it from there. It’s very easy to use! The phone will generally figure out where you are, and then allow you to check-in with a clearly visible button. Got the hang of it yet? Great! Go to a couple of places and check in. Earn your first badge. You know you wanna. Additional Reading: Brainstorm Here:
  32. 32. 32 Chapter 5
  33. 33. 33 Now that you’ve had a chance to experience the game for your- self, you should be aware of a couple of things: • Nobody’s “checking-in” just to say where they went. That’s kind of boring. They’re checking in to get recognition, whether that’s in the form of badges, becoming the Mayor, or special offers. • Some are checking in because they’re genuinely passionate about the places they check in to. Some people really want to leave you that tip! This is where we start getting into using Foursquare as a customer loyalty tool. This is about rewarding people for trying you out, rewarding people for telling others about us, and rewarding people for coming back again and again. As mentioned before, I set up my special offers at AJ Bombers to gather up all three types of people. But you can’t stop there. The Mayor and the Loyalty Royalty.
  34. 34. 34 Many businesses have caught on to giving something cool to the Mayor. Competition for that Mayor slot can be pretty fierce, and it can be a fun element of the game—a little something extra for being the “most loyal” of customers. Yet sometimes, it gets hard to knock that mayor off his perch. That might be great bragging rights for the current mayor, but it’s not great for you. Here’s why. First, in most Mayor programs, the Mayor gets that reward only once. My Mayor gets a free burger as soon as he takes that spot, but after he gets that free burger—that’s it. Nobody else gets a free burger till they claim the Mayor’s spot. And I don’t want to reward one customer over and over again. That could have an adverse affect on the rest of my customers. It’s really tough to dethrone our mayor, and that can lead to what I call “Check-in fatigue” for the rest of our regulars who actually use Foursquare. Why? Because those customers feel like they can’t ever reap the rewards of the program. They’re loyal, but they maybe came in one time less than the current Mayor this month. That’s why we created the “Loyalty Royalty” program. We use our Dashboard utility to track the three Foursquare users with the most check-ins for the last 30 days. Then, next month, those customers get to help us create the Loyalty Royalty menu.
  35. 35. 35 We post our Loyalty Royalty menu right on a public chalkboard, as well as the names of the Royalty.
  36. 36. 36 This menu is built by and for our Loyalty Royalty customers. They can decide what items go on it. They can name those items. They can even bring in their own recipes if they want to. To include others in the fun, the Royalty also picks a day when the Loyalty Royalty menu is open to all of the guests at the restaurant. This gives others a taste of the fun, gives them an incentive to compete next month, and gives us a chance to do something a little different every month, too. You can come up with your own ideas. A special table that al- lows your Top 10 to meet one another, thus fostering the social aspect of Foursquare?Free coffee for your Loyalty Royalty all month long?Taking the Royalty’s pictures and posting them up on the wall? Once you gather up a group of Royalty, ask them what would be the most valuable incentive for them, and listen to them. Create a program they’d like, not the program you think they’d like. This is pretty vital, because my place is not your place. My cus- tomers are not your customers. Take advantage of your ability to meet with these folks and talk to them. Connect with them through other social media, or talk with them face to face. You won’t regret taking that kind of effort. Additional Reading: vate/1109393701/tumblr_l8n24w76Y71qcwft8 alty-and-foursquares-evolving-strategy.htm
  37. 37. 37 Brainstorm Here:
  38. 38. 38 Chapter 6
  39. 39. 39 You’ll find that badges are the most talked about part of the game. How many badges do you have? How did you get them? There’s a lot of buzz about badges, and much like in boy scouts or girl scouts, people will work to earn them by doing the activities associated with those badges. Which is fine. That’s exactly the sort of behavior you want to encourage. Not only is the badge game a form of reward and incentive that doesn’t cost you anything as a business owner, it also will help generate a sense of fun and energy around your establishment. And so you can help your guests figure out how to get badges— and start thinking about how you can make these badges work for you even more—I’m going to teach you about some of the badges that are available. Badge Envy
  40. 40. 40 I’m not going to try to cover all of them. First, many badges are location specific, and won’t really apply to you or your clientele. Badges about New York City aren’t very relevant here in Mil- waukee, for example. Also, badges do go inactive. If I tried to list them all, some of them might have gone out of use by some- time next year. Instead, I’m going to cover some of the “core” badges. First up is the Newbie Badge. This is the very first badge some- one gets, the moment they check in for the first time. So getting it is pretty easy! This is the Adventurer Badge. Players gain this one after they check in to 10 different venues. The Explorer Badge, for checking in to 25 different venues. The Superstar Badge! I bet you can’t guess how you get this one.
  41. 41. 41 This is the “Crunked” badge. It means you checked into 4 dif- ferent venues between the hours of 8 pm and Midnight. This is the “Bender” badge, but it doesn’t have anything to do with drinking too much beer. Instead, it means you “Checked In” four nights in a row. This is the “Local” badge. It means you checked into the same place (such as your favorite restaurant!) 3 times in a row. Checking in 30 times in one month earns you this Super User badge. Remarkably coveted given the name, this is the increasingly elusive “Douchebag” badge. You have to check into 25 different venues with the douchebag tag to get this one.
  42. 42. 42 Over 12 check-ins in 10 hours gets you this “Overshare” badge. 5 different check-ins at an airport will gain you this “Jet Setter” badge. Get 10 check-ins at movie theatres to earn the “Zoetrope” badge. Here is the Pizzaiolo badge, earned for 20 different check-ins at various pizza places around town. 10 Playground check-ins will earn you this “Babysitter” badge.
  43. 43. 43 If 50 people check into the same location in 3 hours, every one of them get this “Swarm” badge. I’ve got a story to tell you about the “Swarm” badge soon, as it is perhaps one of the most useful badges for us venue owners. As is its sister badge, the 250 person “Super Swarm.” Well—as- suming the fire department lets you have that many people in your establishment at once, anyway. We’ve had some fun with this “I’m on a Boat!” badge, which is another great story I’ll have for you soon. You probably remember seeing the picture of me in the boat in an earlier chapter. The story behind AJ Bombers and this badge offers a great example of how you can be creative with helping your guests get coveted or rare badges.
  44. 44. 44 At any given moment you can get the full list of active Four- square badges at this link: foursquare-badge-list/active-badges/. It’s a good idea to check in with this board every now and then to see what your guests might be aching to add to their collection soon. Every badge someone earns shows up on their Foursquare “Me” page. You can help foster your guest’s desire for badges by giving them a story to tell with the badges they can earn at your venue. Additional Reading: foursquare-badges/
  45. 45. 45 Brainstorm Here:
  46. 46. 46 Chapter 7
  47. 47. 47 So let’s talk about increasing your sales in a BIG way by using Foursquare events. I have developed a systemized process for doing this that’s very easy to duplicate. But before I get into the method, I’m going to tell you two stories about my own success- ful Foursquare events. Our first event was our Foursquare Flash Mob meet-up on Feb- ruary 28, 2010. The purpose of this event was twofold: to sup- port a local charity and to help visitors get the elusive “Swarm” badge. We used Twitter and Facebook to spread the word about our event, then waited to see what would happen. The place was packed. Our sales that day were 110% over the normal sales. What could an eventlike this do for your venue? But we didn’t stop there. We created another event for the of- ficial Foursquare day, April 16. This time, we put together an event to help our customers earn the elusive,“I’m on a Boat!” badge. We didn’t have a boat, but that was okay. We partnered with another local business to get a kayak. Swarming, and Other Fun Foursquare Events.
  48. 48. 48 We contacted Foursquare to see what our customers would have to do in order to get the badge, and found out they could use the “Shout-Out” function on their Foursquare app (it’s right next to the check-in button) while sitting in the boat. What happened on “I’m on a Boat!” day? The lines stretched out the door before the official event even kicked off. We had 231 visitors that day, and 55 of them checked in for the very first time. Not only did we have a full house, we got some new customers that we might not have had before. It was our busiest lunch day ever. Customers were waiting for 30 minutes, which is also our longest wait time ever. What’s the lesson here? Just this. People like to participate in community events. If you can create an awesome, creative event that centers around one of their interests (such as participating in Foursquare), then you’re going to make money. Be creative! This isn’t a fluke. I’ve done this twice, and will do it again. And thanks to social media, my customers helped to promote the event as much as, or more than, I did. So here’s the method, step by step. Duplicate this formula, and I’m confident you will see the same level of success that I did. The bigger your following on Twitter and Facebook the better this will work—but then, that’s just all the more reason to embrace social media, right? Step 1: Select a badge or reward that your event will help customers acquire. It works best when you use badges that are difficult to get.
  49. 49. 49 Step 2: Contact Foursquare so that you know the exact process that will get your customers their badge. One thing I’ve learned about Foursquare as a company is they are extremely friendly! You don’t want to skip this step even if you think you know, because sometimes this can uncover alternate ways to get the badge, and if you get it wrong you’re going to disappoint your customers. Step 3: Use the Twtvite application to invite people, just as you would for a Tweetup. Found at Step 4: Begin promoting the event on Twitter and Facebook the week before the event. Step 5: Change your Twitter avatar to the event badge. Then open your doors on the day of the event and prepare to get in on the fun. If you’re not familiar with Twtvite it’s pretty easy to find and use.
  50. 50. 50 It took me approximately 2 hours to follow these steps each time I set up my event. 2 hours for my venue to enjoy some of the most successful days since it opened, to develop new loyal cus- tomers, and to offer my customers some fun. Additional Reading: boat-how-to-use-foursquare-to-boost-your-restaurants-busi- ness-part-ii.htm Uses-Foursquare-and-a-Boat-to-Hit-Sales-Record.aspx
  51. 51. 51 Brainstorm Here:
  52. 52. 52 Chapter 8
  53. 53. 53 Foursquare is still relatively new, and it won’t work very well for you as a tool if nobody knows about it. Fortunately, it’s very, very easy to help your customers find out about it. This has more advantages than simply teaching your customers how to use a social media application. It helps you add more value to your venue by establishing it as a place of education. Establish your business in this fashion, and you will earn more, because your customers will trust you, and your business, more. Besides, who doesn’t want to be the one to tell people all about the hottest new trend in town? This education doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be very simple. Tell people all about Foursquare offline, right at your restaurant. Helping Guests Learn About Foursquare.
  54. 54. 54 This is an almost famous picture on the Internet as far as Foursquare promotion goes. It’s pretty simple, too. It tells people what’s in it for them first, gives details second, and then down at the bottom it tells people where to go to find out more about Foursquare. Simple. To the point. And very effective. It can be as simple as putting up a sign or a chalkboard memo. Get a set of badge buttons from the Foursquare Online Store and offer them up to your customers as they achieve different badges at your location, just as a small freebie. Wear a Foursquare t-shirt behind the counter one day (also available at the Foursquare Online Store). Put a Foursquare “Check In Here” square on your window.
  55. 55. 55 Window stickers like these might even get you more walk-in traffic as existing Foursquare users realize that you’re a “Foursquare Aware” business. Follow all of that offline marketing up by mentioning Foursquare on Twitter and Facebook (perhaps in the context of telling people about your Foursquare event) and you’ll find more and more people in your area are getting clued into the game and enjoying the heck out of themselves playing it. We educated our customers about Twitter, and it was a wild success. In fact, it became such a cornerstone of AJ Bombers that we made it official. We encourage people to write their Twitter usernames on our walls, and to actively make AJ Bomb- ers their restaurant by telling us about what they’d like to see.
  56. 56. 56 Can you top our Twitter performance with Foursquare? Can you find a way to make it a cornerstone of your venue and your brand? All you need is a little bit of creativity and energy to make it happen. Additional Reading: sentationadvisors/2010/03/why-arent-more-restaurants-reward- ing-customers-via-foursquare.html
  57. 57. 57 Brainstorm Here:
  58. 58. 58 Chapter 9
  59. 59. 59 A big part of the success of Foursquare is due to this system’s ability to share your check-ins with Facebook and Twitter. As a business, you should be monitoring this activity with the search features. This will tell you exactly what someone tweets when they check in at your venue. This gives you another opportunity to tell your customers, “Thank you for your business!” You can treat your customers in the public domain the same way you’d treat them in person. You cannot only thank your guests for coming, but you can also tell them about the best meal at your restaurant, or which server to ask for. When people take the time to tell others about your restaurant, and they use their social networks to do it, they want to be heard and acknowledged. Foursquare and Other Social Media.
  60. 60. 60 Remember, their shout outs, check-ins, and reviews are all instant feedback that gets back to hundreds, sometimes thousands, of other people. And Foursquare’s very set-up encourages—even demands—reviews from your customers. Of course, it’s always fun when all the Tweets and check in reviews you see are good ones.
  61. 61. 61 People have compared Foursquare to Yelp. If you don’t know, Yelp is a review site for various restaurants and stores. Now, there’s been a lot of chatter about Yelp, and the things that happen when you get a negative review. We’re not going to get into the ins and outs of the Yelp debate. For now, all that I want you to understand is that Yelp is not integrated with Facebook and Twitter to the same degree. That means there’s opportuni- ties for you on Foursquare that just don’t exist on Yelp or sites like it. What are these opportunities? Namely, the ability to fix the problems, whatever they are, immediately and in a very public way. Problems happen. They happen even to the best of us. Fortu- nately, when your Twitter stream or Foursquare page shows you something negative, it’s pretty easy to handle it: Step 1: Admit your mistake and apologize, with no qualifying and no excuses. Step 2: Offer to make it right—whatever that means for your guest. For some guests, knowing they were heard and receiving an apology will be enough. Others might want a complimen- tary meal or a discount of some form. Pretty simple stuff, but you’d be surprised how many people just ignore the problem. But admitting a mistake and then fixing it doesn’t hurt your reputation—it helps it. Ignoring the problem only sends the message that you don’t really care.
  62. 62. 62 On another note, be careful that the tips and reviews you leave stay positive. Who needs a reputation for bashing the competition? Additional Reading: marketing-blog/2010/socially-edible-the-menu-to-online-net- working-and-conversations-for-restaurants/
  63. 63. 63 Brainstorm Here:
  64. 64. 64 Chapter 10
  65. 65. 65 Don’t Forget to Tip! In my experience, the most powerful parts of your actual venue page within Foursquare are the Tips and To Do sections. This is where new users can discover the best of the best about your business. These are personal recommendations from other sat- isfied Foursquare users that have experienced your products. At AJ Bombers, we’re careful to encourage our guests to add a Tip or To Do with each visit. We offer a free dessert as an in- centive. If I tell the customer something about my business, it might be viewed with some suspicion. If my happy customers say it, however, it rings true. This is called Social Proof, and it’s been the basis of Word of Mouth long before social networking was ever created. If you don’t understand the concept of Social Proof, you cer- tainly will after seeing the effect these tips can have on sales.
  66. 66. 66 Our special offer on AJ Bombers Foursquare venue page. If your customers aren’t leaving tips, you really are missing out on one of the strongest applications of Foursquare. Some customers will share their experience with no prompting from you, but not all of them will. A positive reminder will generate pages and pages of tips in time, which just increases your cred- ibility more and more. New customers are more likely to try your business because they’ll go in with an increased level of trust. And as anyone familiar with today’s marketing will tell you, building that trust is absolutely key to gaining, and keeping, customers.
  67. 67. 67 Additional Reading: using-location-based-social-media-to-boost-business Brainstorm Here:
  68. 68. 68 Chapter 11
  69. 69. 69 Foursquare Lessons that Come from Twitter. Restaurants, bars, clubs, and coffee houses who try to treat any kind of social media as just another billboard are doomed to fail. Hopefully, you like people and really enjoy them, and that is why you entered the hospitality industry at all. Because whether it’s Foursquare, Twitter, or tomorrow’s next new big so- cial media application, two-way communication and customer engagement are the way you make it work. This means more than just saying thank you or handling cus- tomer service issues. It also means listening to the customer to the point where the customer takes partial ownership of your venue. It goes beyond having “your” restaurant and enters the realm of “their” restaurant. Does that sound scary? Does it sound like you’d be losing some- thing? Trust me, it’s anything but. Our signature burger was born this way. It’s called the Barrie Burger, and it developed because of an idea offered by Kate Barrie, one of our regulars.
  70. 70. 70 Not only is the Barrie Burger one of our most popular items, but it’s gone on to gain quite a bit of recognition. The Barrie Burger was the star of the show when we appeared on the Travel Channel’s Food Wars, and it is probably the only burger in the world to have its very own social media following (@barrieburger) ‘ Presenting the Barrie Burger! Good things happen when your customers own you business.
  71. 71. 71 What could sell better than giving your guests exactly what they want, the way that they want it? What could delight guests more than being personally recognized and gaining the ability to have a real impact on your restaurant? We encourage our customers to “leave their mark” in more casual ways as well. We encourage our customers to write their @signs all over the restaurant (we call it twitffiti). Here I am, with twitffiti all around!
  72. 72. 72 We have guests who show their mark to their friends when they come in. Some guests have“their”booth or“their”seat at the bar. Customers are more engaged when they have a place to call their own. Encourage them to make that place your place. Additional Reading: a-foursquare-strategy-for-customer-retention-foot-traffic/
  73. 73. 73 Brainstorm Here:
  74. 74. 74 Chapter 12
  75. 75. 75 Your Foursquare Dashboard. As a venue owner you have access to your Foursquare dashboard. This is a powerful tool for helping you assess the strength of your business and social media reach. Now, I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about the ROI on my social media figures. But it is use- ful and helpful to watch whether or not my presence is growing on these services…or stagnating.
  76. 76. 76 A shot of our dashboard and all it has to offer. One useful feature is the time break down, which is very useful for scheduling events—it tells me exactly when I should start them! So let’s break down the data step by step. Note that you can view this data by time period: today, yesterday, 30 days ago, 60 days ago, 90 days ago, or for all time. The data is only useful when compared to the time period, so be sure you pay attention to which you’ve selected before you start trying to evaluate your dashboard.
  77. 77. 77 First, you’ll see your total check-ins. If this number is really low you might need to work a bit at promoting Foursquare to people in your business, because it has possible it hasn’t taken off in your area yet. You can be a major part of helping Foursquare gain local acceptance! The next number you’ll want to look at is your number of “unique visitors.” A growing number here is healthy—it means you’re get- ting new customers all the time (or new Foursquare users all the time). It really represents a mix between the two types of unique visitor, but enough unique visitors at least tells you that your efforts are catching on. The dashboard will also tell you the percentage of check-ins shared with Facebook and Twitter. This will show you how far your reach is extending on other social media networks. If these numbers seem low to you, you might try offering an incentive for the extra nudge to Twitter and Facebook. This will also share your gender data, which might tell you if it would be profitable to start a ladies night or offer things which would appeal more to one gender or another. Or it could be com- pletely irrelevant to you, but the data is there for you to use if you need it. The top 3 visitors helps me know who my“Loyalty Royalty”is for the month. It will certainly tell you what customers you need to personally introduce yourself to, if you’re not in the habit of per- sonally introducing yourself to customers. You’ll also see a detailed listing of overall check-ins.
  78. 78. 78 Finally, you’ll see a breakdown of when visitors are checking in, which is extremely useful information for planning and scheduling events. You don’t have to stare at this data every day, but it’s certainly good to have once you start making a serious effort to use Foursquare to your advantage. Additional Reading: square-dashboard/ new-tools-for-businesses/
  79. 79. 79 Brainstorm Here:
  80. 80. 80 Chapter 13
  81. 81. 81 After The Check-In. Social media alone won’t lead to your success. If you and your staff aren’t providing an excellent experience to your customer once they walk in the door, in fact, you’ll find social media working against you. Before making any serious social media effort you should sit down and take stock of what the customer’s experience would look like after they check in to Foursquare. Make a serious commitment to making that experience as outstanding as possible. An initial search of Twitter can tell you a lot. Are people saying positive things? Negative things? Nothing at all? If you can’t find the answers there, it’s time to get serious about getting to know your customers face to face. After all, that’s the final piece of the social media puzzle anyway: creating relationships. A burger is just a burger. A cup of coffee is just a cup of coffee. It’s the experience, the relationships, and the sense of belonging that define whether or not you are able to create a loyal community of followers and fans. Your restaurant, club, bar, or coffeehouse has to have great food and service FIRST—and then it has to take custom- ers beyond the food to create a space where people truly want to be.
  82. 82. 82 A place they associate with fun, with warmth, with being known, with being valued, with the presence of their community. Every business will have to do this differently, because every experience is different. Focus on building a brand and relationships instead of relying on discounts and price to drive sales. Think about who you are, and who your restaurant is, and who your customers are, to create that brand, to craft an experience. Give great service, serve great food, and create an experience that is remarkable. Additional Reading: are-talking-about-you/
  83. 83. 83 Brainstorm Here:
  84. 84. 84
  85. 85. 85 About The Author Joe Sorge was practically born in a restaurant. His family has owned and operated an Italian American restaurant in central New York since June 5, 1951.At the age of 11, he began working there, and learned the business from the ground up. Joe then at- tended Cornell University and earned his BS in Hospitality, with a minor in Entrepreneurship in 1993. His career in the hospital- ity industry began with a seven year stint in South Carolina that included working with the House of Blues and two other privately held hospitality groups. In 2000, Joe and his wife Angie moved to Milwaukee,WI, where they now make their home with their two Bullmastiffs, Ferguson and Isabel. Together, they have built a hospitality company that includes four restaurants (AJ Bombers, Smoke Shack, Swig, and Water Buffalo) a bar, (Sullivan’s), and an event space (The Roasting Room)—all in the downtown area of Milwaukee.
  86. 86. 86 Recently, Joe’s work with various social media tools has earned him national recognition from CNN, the Wall Street Journal, The NY Times, Nations Restaurant News, the Travel Channel’s Food Wars, Hospitality 101, Hubspot, Tech Crunch, Mashable, Forrester Research, the Business Journal, SoHo Biz Tube, and Twitter Talk Radio, as well as in blogs, case studies, and websites around the world.
  87. 87. 87
  88. 88. 88 1st Edition Published 11/2010 by: 2.0 Books, A Publishing Company © Copyright 2010 #TwitterWorks by: Joe Sorge and Scott Baitinger. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews. 2.0 BOOKS ™
  89. 89. As a business owner, you can use foursquare to engage your increasingly mobile customers with foursquare “Specials,” which are discounts and prizes you can offer your loyal customers when they check in on foursquare at your venue. See how Joe Sorge, owner of AJ Bombers in Milwaukee used Foursquare drive traffic, increase sales and to able to track everything over time with a robust set of venue analytics.