Can Foursquare Promotions Really Benefit Your Business?

By Cara Friedman Foursquare has a lot to be proud of. In the last year the New York start-up grew 3400%. As of July, Foursquare announced that they reached 10 million users. While all of this sounds impressive it pales in comparison to the 750 million users on Facebook and the over 200 million users on Twitter. When looked at in this perspective, Foursquare is just a little fish in a giant ocean. Since you can only reach a small fraction of consumers on Foursquare compared to Facebook and Twitter, why should any business choose to invest in Foursquare?

The Investment

Badges. If your company is looking to create a custom badge, be prepared to shell out the dough. Custom badges are rumored to cost $25,000 per month with a required three month commitment. In total, a badge will cost you a minimum of $75,000.

Specials. Any business, large or small, can create a special on Foursquare free of charge. All that is required of you is to claim your business on Foursquare and set up the deals you want. This will cost your company nothing.

Time. Most of the cost of investing in Foursquare is the time you spend. If you own a franchise, it will take time to add specials to each location. If you create a business page, it will take time to develop the graphics, tips, and check-ins to make it a complete page. Don't forget this when factoring how much Foursquare will really cost you.

Is It Worth It?

The simple answer is yes. We have seen time and time again businesses (both big and small) have successes in Foursquare.

McDonalds. Currently, McDonald's is doing a very big Foursquare promotion that includes marketing on radio, television and more. This extreme investment was likely in response to McDonald's success on Foursquare Day. This year on Foursquare Day (4/16) McDonald's decided to test the Foursquare waters and see how successful a campaign could be. Customers were offered a chance to win one of a hundred gift cards by checking-in to a McDonald's venue on Foursquare day. This promotion increased foot traffic on Foursquare by 33%. All it took was an investment of $1000 in gift cards and the time it took to enter specials into every McDonald's franchise (which was undoubtedly a lot!).

AJ Bombers. This small burger joint in Milwaukee couldn't afford to create their own custom badge, but that wasn't going to stop them from using Foursquare badges to their advantage. Restaurant owner Joe Sorge decided to hold a "Swarm Badge Party" encouraging users to come to the restaurant and earn the coveted swarm badge. Marketing primarily on Twitter and Facebook, Sorge was able to get 161 Foursquare users to the restaurant and increase his average Sunday sales by 110%. Without buying a badge or creating any specials, the only investment made here was the time spent promoting the event on other social networks.

Harry Potter. EA Games created a custom badge in honor of the final Harry Potter movie and to entice users to pick up the new Harry Potter video game when it comes out. The movie has broken records being the biggest midnight premiere, biggest weekend premier, etc. However, I'm not sure how much of the ticket sales can be attributed to the possibility of earning a Foursquare badge. The total investment was the amount of the badge and very little time and promotion. To see if this big investment really paid off, we will have to wait and see if sales for the new video game increase.

Do you think it is worth it to invest in Foursquare? What other businesses have benefited (or not) from Foursquare promotions? Share your thoughts below!